The Journal Approach

I think one thing that has stalled updates on this site is the self-inflicted “pressure” of blogs or articles needing to feel entertaining enough to read. Most bloggers take this approach but what I think I’d like to do instead is…

take the journal approach.

You see, our little 2 year old has been a little slow at learning to talk but he’s been picking up more and more words now quite speedily. He can say the most heartbreaking (and oddly high-voiced) “Buh-bye!!” when you’re leaving and a little “hi” … When he feels like it. He also loves the word “cookie” and often commands “More!… More!More!More!” when one cartoon ends and he wants another to begin.

What Will doesn’t do much of… Is string words together in a sentence or short phrase.

On Thursday, January 10 (2013), my mom was packing up the little man for a visit to her house (from our house) — and for a much needed date night for Amy and I — when I plopped him into his car seat in her car and said goodbye. I kissed his cheek a few times and said bye and he muttered a couple “Buh-bye!’s” before turning away and saying “Buh-bye Daddy!”

My heart melted.

Tonight (the 11th), Amy was picking up his train collection as he ran around the living room, and she told him to “say night night to your trains!”

Will responded “Night night twains!” A couple times before adding “night night daddy!!”

Heart melted again.

It’s a more recent thing that he calls me Daddy–and I love it– and on Christmas Eve, his present to me was another “first” for him.

I was standing in the outer sink room of Amy’s parents’ bathroom, washing my hands, when he simply walked in, said “Hi Daddy” and left.

It floored me.

He has only done that once more to this day and it was the following morning on Christmas Day while I was in my office. So awesome.

It’s so neat to see these little “baby steps”…
– John


To Infirmary… and Beyond!

With every week — and sometimes every day — offering new experiences in the parental role, one unexpected encounter came when I went in to have my blood taken earlier this week on Monday.

The unimportant detail to this story is it was a routine check-up on the levels of my thyroid (fun times!), but it’s something I thankfully only have to endure once or twice a year. And one simple fact remains…

I hate needles.

This time, with Will being 22.5 months old, it was a much different experience than the last time we brought him along. With his recent obsession with Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear, Will had his Buzz figure in-hand (well, it was mine, but I digress) — a 5 or 6-inch plastic figure that is perfect for a little guy like him to run around with.

When it came time for me to be ushered into a little room, curtain drawn, with my blood also about to be drawn, I sat down in the chair nervously, put my right arm out there on display and turned my head in the opposite direction. Amy sat in a chair positioned in a way where she could hold the curtain closed and block Will from darting out at any moment. So with us all trapped in there — nurse armed with a needle included — Will restlessly, but quietly, was bouncing around the room. At one point, he noticed how uncomfortable I was and he noticed his momma was trying to console me. I was quiet, but my mind was not. Needles. *shudder*

With my left arm laying across the little table on the other side of the chair, and with Amy’s hand resting on my forearm, Will came to a realization. Something was wrong. It was then the toddler decided that it was more important for me to have Buzz than him. He walked over, pushed Buzz into my open left hand, and turned around. It was as if he was saying “I have no idea what in the heck is going on, but I have a feeling you need ‘Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!’ more than I do.”

Once the nurse prepped my arm and gave me the warning of the needle’s forthcoming – and unwelcomed – intrusion, Will paused his frenetic wall-bouncing to stop and watch my blood being drawn. That in itself was a little awkward, but he seemed entirely unfazed by…and all too curious (uh-oh) about what was happening. When all was said and done (and I had finished using Buzz Lightyear as a stress ball), I handed the toy back to my son with my heart a little warmer. The little guy is awfully protective of his favorite toys, so I knew that gesture was a big one for him.

Parenthood definitely continues to deliver surprises when you least expect them.

Will with Buzz from a different day, on July 14 2012 (He would do this motion if you said “To infinity… and beyond!”)

Boy Story

Twenty one (and almost a half) months!

While it’s been a few months since my last blog, these weeks in between posts have been anything but dull. Watching Will develop has been quite the site, as he’s a walking, running, toddling babbler. He doesn’t really speak much yet, although he’s starting to mimic certain sounds (“Up” and “Bob” — as in the Tomato — are his most common ones. But it sounds like I might be “Gah-gah” to him 🙂 ). It’s funny to watch him conduct his learning in a manner that’s … very much on his own terms. It’s almost as though he knows how to say certain words… he just doesn’t feellike it!

And that personality development has certainly been an interesting one to experience. Little tantrums are “fun” to endure and try to learn how to subdue. But we know the importance of getting the little booger to calm down and learn that smacking anything within his proximity (from people to objects) is unacceptable.

At an acoustic concert 6.4.12

Almost everyday reveals something new with him. Today, it was watching him grab a Buzz Lightyear figure (which is… *ahem* mine….) and pretend that Buzz was flying! I’d yet to see him play like that. He loves watching the Toy Story trilogy, so it’s great to see him gravitate toward the characters. When he got his mitts on both Buzz and Woody figures, he carried them around for quite a while — like little trophies! Sometimes he still gets into these fits of throwing things — even things he really likes — so he’s still learning what it means to take care of peoples’ things. I know this stuff takes time.

But it’s also just AMAZING how fast he’s growing! It doesn’t seem long ago that he couldn’t roll over… then couldn’t crawl… then couldn’t walk… I’m sure, once he starts really talking, I’ll feel the same way about this season when he couldn’t!

So until the next adventure…

7.12.12 – running around the kitchen with a Firehouse Subs hat on

"Happy Valentine's D—Hey! Come Back Here!"

So it’s been a couple months of adjusting to life with a growing, fully mobile little boy running around. Will is now 16 and a half months, and this two-legged freedom he’s now experiencing has brought new joys AND challenges our way.

I’m definitely enjoying having a walking toddler around instead of a crawling, or immobile little bean. Although the little guy hasn’t spoken a real word just yet, he’s having a blast zipping from room to room in our home, sometimes making the most adorable nonsensical sounds along the way (my favorite is when he sees his reflection, wrinkles his nose and declares, “Yah yah yah!” in a hushed voice. Love it!).

This year was our second Valentine’s Day since Will’s birth and, to be honest, I don’t even remember what we did last year, but we decided it would be cool to go out as the three of us. Will had a pretty chill day earlier, so we figured it’d be safe to take him out.

We were wrong.

When we arrived at our local T.G.I. Friday’s, Will was asleep in his car seat, so we plopped it in his stroller and wheeled him inside. He didn’t last long in there though. The bright lights and noise were enough to wrench him out of any kind of peaceful rest, so I plucked him from the carriage and sat him on my lap for us to feed him. He was good for a while; I’ve found it fun to balance the little fella on one knee and feed us both, but tonight he could only sit for a short time. Soon, he was reaching for his mom and getting into her diaper bags and purse. After some fussy minutes, Amy declared that it was time for me to walk him around. With only one a few other couples left dining nearby, I paced the walkways around our table, following our little wobbler. I tried holding his hand so he could be more controlled (who wants to be eating out and seeing a toddler running around off the leash?? I didn’t want to be THAT parent), but since he’s allowed to roam free at home, he wouldn’t have it. In outdoor situations, I force it — tears and all (usually his, not mine) — but in a less life-threatening environment as a Friday’s, I figured it was OK to just follow him around.

And it was fine, but there seemed to be no end to the constant walking, about-face, walking, about-face, walk… it was endless. And of course, Will kept wanting to go further each time. Before long, I was yanking him by the arm backward away from the kitchen or bar area… again and again. We tried to get him to eat his kids meal that we ordered for him, but he was fussy (over-tired, really) and just wanted to own the floor of Fridays. By the end of our Valentine’s Day evening, I sat in the booth alone, eating dessert, while she tended to his restroom needs. Once we had Mr. Grumpy Pants back in his car seat (in which he went kicking and screaming), we drove home — exhausted and not feeling all that lovey dovey. Still, it’s a snapshot of where this road of adulthood has taken us. He won’t be a little, speedy toddler forever, so we have to take the good with the not-so…

Look Who's Walking Now

Just in time for Christmas, Amy and I got our wish when Will took his first couple daring steps on his own. For weeks leading up to this momentous event, he had enjoyed being lead around by the hands or shimmying himself along counter tops and other edges while standing. However, he hadn’t yet taken those grand steps on his own. Around December 18th (Amy claims she saw a few steps the day before, but her idea of him walking on his own seemed different than mine), Will took a couple cautious steps on his own. Usually it was a couple little steps and then he flopped to all fours or backwards onto his little rump. But as the days went on that week, he seemed relentless — nothing really deterred him from getting up and trying again.

I was shocked by how quickly Will picked up walking, and how determined he seemed to be once he got a taste for it (and I’m sure our enthusiastic responses to his achievement helped).

In just a few days, Will had almost completely converted over from being a full-time crawler to being pretty strong on those two feet. He still reverts to crawling on occasion, but it’s been really awesome to see him trekking around, wobbling to and fro, on those chubby little legs.

And so has begun the next stage of parenthood with a baby — walking! Will’s 15 months now and had started walking at just over 14 and a half months. Here’s to a new year of parenting!

Learning To Walk

It’s been several weeks since I last wrote about our adventures in parenting, but it’s really been just several weeks of a waiting game: when will the little beastie learn to walk?

While we wait for Will to take the leap of faith, so to speak, it’s still pretty amusing to watch him shimmy his way around objects while holding on to walls, corners, rails, and the like. He does enjoy being held by the hand and walked around the room, but he hasn’t mustered up enough courage to really step out on his own.

In some ways, I guess adults are still learning to walk on our own — still learning to take little leaps of faith and trust that God will be there to catch us if we trip up and fall. No matter how many times we try to encourage our little 14.5 month old to take steps in our direction without holding on to something, he has yet to make the jump… and I think that’s a problem that still dogs me to this day as an adult believer.

I guess, in the end, Will’s dad needs to learn to walk just as badly as he does. 🙂

Amy beaming as Will stands on his own for just a moment before sitting down… successfully distracted by some VeggieTales on screen.

Full-Contact Birthday Cake

So, this past Saturday, we celebrated our little guy’s very first birthday! (well….. technically, last year was his “birth day”… but he would have died if we tried to give him birthday cake as soon as he emerged into the world) On his actual day, we gave the little guy his own vanilla cupcake to attack, but he didn’t really know what to do with it… on top of being completely exhausted. Because we waited too late in the day to celebrate, he ended up crying and fussing through almost all of his presents and cake. It was memorable. (Below is one of the few smiles we captured 🙂 )

The next day, we celebrated again with another set of grandparents. This time, he was given a full vanilla cake. Scratch that – he was given a DOUBLE LAYER vanilla cake. Before I knew it, Amy was setting the double-layer vanilla cake in front of the little man and allowing him to have his way with it.

At first, Will dragged his little fingers across the white and blue icing to see what it was. Then he dragged his frosting-covered digits across the high chair tray and discovered what finger paints must be like. Before we knew it, we had a regular Jackson Pollock in our midst. He began by wiping more and more icing across the table and then grabbing chunks of cake. He brought the icing and cake bits up to his mouth, but he didn’t really eat it. I tried then to put a small piece of cake in his mouth and that seemed to make something click. He didn’t exactly shovel handfuls of the stuff into his mouth, but he did taste some of it himself after that.

Before long, the little artist was flinging cake and icing E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. This was when we realized it would have been in our best interest to have put some kind of plastic down on the floor or something, for icing and cake innards were littering our faux-hardwood floor. What resulted was a sight that would have given Adrian Monk a massive heart attack. Once shoes of mine nearby and the carpet that lined the stairs climbing to our second floor were hit with small fragments of cake shrapnel, I knew it was time to pop the proverbial birthday balloon. What ensued was a cleaning session that I don’t want to relive.

So, what do YOU need to throw the proper birthday celebrating for your 1-year-old?

1. 1 one-year old baby (boy or girl)
2. 1 cake (preferably NOT double-layer)
3. 1 birthday candle (preferably in the shape of the number 1)
4. 1 big, wide open room with NO carpet — or, better yet… do this all outdoors!
5. 1 video camera
6. 1 photo camera
7. Clothes you wouldn’t mind never seeing again.

Babies and Hotels Don't Mix

It’s been awhile since my last entry, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been several new adventures for us.

First, Amy and I finally got away for a weekend this month to Orlando. I mixed business with vacation, but it worked well to get us some time to just “us” again. We surprisingly snapped right back into how it felt to be just the two of us again, and it reminded me how much I’ve missed that. When you’re married for seven years before a baby is born — not to mention have been “together” for five years before tying the knot (that’s 12 years total for those keeping track) — it’s tough to add a third party and adjust to that. Frankly, I’ve learned just how terrible I am with change and I’ve found myself clinging to my favorite things more. However, I think that’s when God decides we need to let go and cling to Him. To say I need help adjusting to change is an understatement. Prayers are welcome. 🙂

We did miss Will while we were away, but I coveted those hours as just the two of us. It’s tough to juggle spouse time, parenthood time, and our respective jobs; I find that the one that suffers most is the spousal time. So if you’re entering into the parenthood adventure, make sure you two make plenty of time for yourselves, too. 🙂 It’s important for your individual sanities (and hearts) and it’s good for your marriage.

So the week after our Orlando trip, we ran a merch table for JFH at a music festival in PA called Uprise. I was also working as media, so it was a super hectic weekend, but still quite enjoyable. Amy came along for the whole weekend and decided to bring Will along too. It was nice to have the whole trio intact, but it’s not easy to take care of a 11.5-month old while manning a merch table at a fairgrounds.

On Friday night, we stayed over at a hotel nearby and thus marked our first hotel experience with an infant. Mind you, I had feared this could be a disaster, and in my eyes, it was.

At first, it was neat. We settled in, got a complimentary crib delivered to our room and let Will chill on our bed to watch VeggieTales as we got ready for bed (and I had some work to take care of first). It was a challenge getting him to fall asleep, and keeping him from wailing in protest was part of that challenge. Finally, though, he was asleep, then Amy was asleep, and when I finished my work, we were all able to get some rest.

This was probably around 2 or 3am by the time I tucked myself in.

At roughly 6am, we awoke to the blood-curdling cries of our darling baby boy. Amy tried to calm him (he always prefers her over me… I don’t have the magical touch and if Amy’s there, he wants her over me, which is fine), but could barely get him to stop freaking out. After about 20 minutes or so, Amy frustratingly took him to the bathroom and started the tub water. Here, I assumed she’s planning on giving him a bath to calm him. I hear the bottle warmer beep on, so I knew she was about to give that a shot. All the while, Will continued to scream and cry. I knew I could try to go in there and offer assistance, but Heaven knows I’d just be in the way (and the decibels would do me in). Meanwhile, I’m trying desperately to relax and finding myself just getting jittery as I listen to his nonsensical screams of discontent (I was about ready to join him). Things only worsened, so I took the liberty of dressing and retreating to the hotel lobby. I was bleary-eyed and afraid the day ahead would be unkind with the lack of sleep I would be having. I was able to calm myself while slouching in a lobby armchair and listening to some worship music, but I wasn’t able to fall back to sleep. About an hour or so later, I got a text from Amy that he was asleep in his crib and that I could come back upstairs. I did, and I was able to sleep a tiny bit longer before we had to get up and get ready to go back to the festival.

I know I don’t win any husband-of-the-year awards with that story, but we’ve learned over the past year what I can handle and what Amy can handle is vastly different. She’s considerably stronger than I am when it comes to patience with a baby whose screams can strip the flesh off your ear drums (or… seemingly mine, at least).

Lesson learned? Infants and hotels don’t mix. Write that down.

I Hate (Most) Talking Childrens' Toys.

One thing I’ve noticed as my 10 month old is growing is just how obnoxious his toys can be. Of course, I’m not saying the toys themselves have their own pesky attitude (That would be silly, wouldn’t it?). However, the voices recorded for the children are some of the most irritating and obnoxious sounds to have ever reached my ear canal (and I review music full-time, so you can imagine just how bad these toys can be).

The most common offender is a woman’s voice on various singing or talking plastic “books” that consist of just a couple pages and are made to be durable. They exist in this universe because, unfortunately, children love them. Granted, the discernment of little ones is very weak at such a young age, but the patronizing tone and elated sounds of these voices capture the hearts of babies everywhere (As I type this, I hear a painful rendition of “The Farmer int he Dell” playing in the background. Save me, please).

But while children love these toys, there’s something about a flighty-sounding woman blissfully exclaiming “Let’s sing a song!” or “Let’s have fun!” and breaking into a chorus of “The Cow Jumped Over The Moon” that boils my blood. Perhaps there’s a time and place for these things, but for me, the time isn’t “any time” and the place certainly isn’t ever “here.”

If you’re actually still reading my tirade, I have some positive words for you.

I was shopping in Target one day when I came across the pleasant face of a stuffed green dog (yes… I just used “green” to describe a “dog”). Made by the brand LeapFrog, this puffy plush little pooch is programmable. He comes with a box in his velcro-enclosed back that allows you to connect this little dude to your computer. There, you can program Scout to know your child’s name and repeat it for them, to use their name in a song, and to customize it to sing songs about your child’s favorite food, color and animal. What’s more, you can choose from quite a few different jingles — from upbeat party type children songs to Christmas songs and even the birthday song. I actually loaded this puppy up with four lullabies and you can program it to play up to 10 minutes straight of bedtime tunes for your little one.

Best of all? His voice. His voice is that of a real little boy… not some woman who sounds like she sniffed a mess of Sharpies before recording her songs. While I only know Scout, I did see that there’s a purple pooch for girls called Violet. In addition to the main Scout and Violet plushes, there appear to be some additional themed LeapFrog toys for these two. While I haven’t checked them out yet, you can bet I will.

So if you’re like me and can’t stand the more whimsical toys, perhaps Scout or Violet may be of service to you and your child.