On parenthood and life

Tech blogger Jeff Atwood took a detour from his usual nerd programming yesterday to address a nearly universal topic: parenthood. He expresses something about the joys of parenting in a way I completely understood and couldn’t have said half as well:

When I am holding Henry and I tickle him, I can feel him laughing all the way to his toes. And I realize, my God, I had forgotten, I had completely forgotten how unbelievably, inexplicably wonderful it is that any of us exist at all. Here I am with this tiny, warm body so close to me, breathing so fast he can barely catch up, sharing his newfound joy of simply being alive with me. The sublime joy of this moment, and all the other milestones – the first smile, the first laugh, the first “dada” or “mama”, the first kiss, the first time you hold hands. The highs are so incredibly high that you’ll get vertigo and wonder if you can ever reach that feeling again. But you peak ever higher and higher, with dizzying regularity. Being a new parent is both terrifying and exhilarating, a constant rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows.

Jeff’s oldest is only 2 1/2, so I won’t spoil it for him, but it doesn’t stop at age 4. The delight of parenting and seeing your kids learn those new things and experience life in new ways is still a joy when they’re 5 or 6 or 7. Even through the lows it is an amazing experience.

Yesterday afternoon we sat down on the couch with the girls to tell them that their Pops had passed away. Laura, at 7, immediately broke into sobs and cried for a good 5 minutes. And then she was OK. No more words. I wonder how she’s internalizing it, and if we’ll end up talking more about it later. She’s so much like me, it’s scary. But little Addie, only 5, didn’t have tears. She started to think about the news, and to talk through it. “So,” she said, “mom’s dad passed away.” Pause. “I’m glad I still have a dad and mom. I’d be sad if my dad passed away.” Then we talked about how Pops is so much happier and healthier now that he’s in heaven with Jesus, and about how we will see him again someday.

After that we spent a beautiful fall night in the backyard with burgers on the grill, cold beer (for me, not them), a fire in the firepit, marshmallows roasted, and friends who came by with ice cream. Then it was inside for pajamas, hugs and kisses, prayers, books, and bed. And quickly they slept, fresh to wake again as I was leaving for work this morning at some ungodly hour.

Some day future, God willing, my daughters and their families will sit out under the sky and raise a glass in memory of me. My prayer is that, when that time comes, they will be just as thankful and blessed as I was last night. God’s goodness continues from generation to generation.

Happy Birthday Katie!

OK, so I’m only a day behind on this one. Yesterday our youngest little bundle of joy turned 2. She is an amazing little girl who gives the best hugs and makes us smile every day. And yes, she’s in a bit of a Strawberry Shortcake phase right now.

Age 2:

Age 1:

I think we’ve got an engineer on our hands…

Laura announced last night that she was going to make some “inventions”. She had a bag full of assorted building materials that included two wiki sticks, a cup with a crazy curved straw, a plastic flute, an empty McDonald’s Apple Pie box, some crayons, and a pencil.

She first decided she needed to invent a “Zipperump-a-Zoo Catcher”. Being a good little engineer, she had to have plans drawn first:

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You can see that it’s even carefully titled “Z C”, since she wasn’t sure of the correct spelling of Zipperump-a-Zoo.

She’s happy to explain the plans to you, too:

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Then it’s time to build.

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As any good engineer knows, sometimes half the trick is keeping the troublemakers out of your project:

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Getting close to done:

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Success!

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Very happy.

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Home again, home again…

As a friend noted the other day, it’s a bit of a weird feeling to know that you’re driving only two to the hospital, but when you come home there will be three. But it’s a great feeling, too, to finally leave the hospital and bring folks home. Becky and Katie were discharged on Sunday morning and came home to two excited sisters and two grandparents.

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Since she came home there has been a steady stream of visitors: my brother Aaron and his wife Emily came down on Sunday for a few hours, my parents came down to visit today for the day, and my sister Rebecca and her roommate came down this afternoon and will head back tomorrow. Such excitement for such a small person! 🙂

Katie was awake and hungry a good bit of the night last night and has then managed to sleep a good bit of the day today. Hopefully we can get her schedule switched around this week so we can get some better sleep… or, I should say, so Becky can get some better sleep; I’m afraid I slept through most all of it last night.

Such a blessing to have a home with a beautiful wife and three beautiful little girls. God is good.

The Waiting Game

We’ve gotten to that point in Becky’s pregnancy now where it’s just a waiting game. The calendar is clear; the in-laws are here (and planning to stay until after the baby is born), the bags are packed. Heck, we even made a trial run to the hospital on Thursday morning when we had a bit of a false alarm. So now we wait.

Last time when we were playing the waiting game we ended up buying a minivan. We’re still paying it off. I don’t think we’ll do anything quite so expensive this time, but we might at least take advantage of the free babysitting and go out to dinner or watch a movie or something. The weather is great this week so we’ll take lots of walks. And then we wait some more.

Actually, if the baby were born on Wednesday or so of this week the timing would be pretty great – nothing like having a built-in excuse to take vacation days from work during the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament. 🙂 Not that basketball would be my, um, priority or anything.

I am slowly learning patience whether I like it or not.

More Ketchup!

Our little Addison (age two and a half) caught a low-grade stomach bug earlier this week. She wasn’t notably ill or uncomfortable, just sleeping more than usual and not wanting to eat much of anything. That it was, in fact, a stomach bug became clear on Wednesday morning when she threw up. Still, she was running around like normal, and talked more and faster than an overcaffeinated chipmunk for the first ten minutes after I got home from work.

Later on Wednesday, with church activities canceled due to other folks being sick, we decided to go drive through Culver’s and bring some burgers home. (Oh, and some cheese curds… yum yum.) Addie wanted to eat, so we went ahead and gave her a quarter of a cheeseburger and a few fries. And I tell you: that girl went to town.

She ate the first few fries in no time flat. She asked for more. What the heck, we said. If she’s hungry and wants to eat, she can have all the fries she wants. So she ate a couple more fries, then started in on the burger. She had eaten probably half the burger, and had the rest of it half-chewed when I saw her make a gagging face. I warned Becky and she grabbed Addie’s plate (by now empty except for a few fries) and up came the burger. After a couple more heaves she was done, and her determination was remarkable. Without even sparing a second, two words came out of her mouth.

“More ketchup.”

See, it didn’t matter that she’d just thrown up her entire dinner back on to her plate. What mattered was that there were three unscathed french fries left on that plate, and there wasn’t enough ketchup left for those fries. That, my friends, is focus.

While she didn’t get the rest of those fries, she did start managing to keep food down Wednesday night, and by Thursday afternoon she was eating another cheeseburger, and more french fries, and feeling fine.

[Disclaimer so I don’t feel like a bad parent: yes, we regularly feed our kids stuff healthier than cheeseburgers. The end.]