Friday, June 17, 2011

My First Father's Day

In two days, I'll experience my first Father's Day as a father. I used to wonder what this day would be like for me - the first time I'd be receiving the "Happy Father's Day" wishes rather than always giving them.

Explaining what the last 10 months have been like for me as I've transitioned into being a father to an incredible little boy named Luke is immensely hard, but I'm going to try it...

Me and my buddy
There is something unexplainable about the relationship between a father and son. The same is true no matter the combination - mother-son, father-daughter, mother-daughter - but since I have experience on both ends of the line as a son and a father, I'll stick to talking about what I know best.

A father and son have an unspoken bond, and tie connecting them not only parent and child, but as men. My father and I are close in ways my two sisters could not understand. Not saying that they are not close with my father, just saying that the relationship is...different. We communicate differently. We read each other differently. We approach situations differently.

As crazy as it might sound to the non-fathers out there, Luke and I have this connection, even though he can't talk except for a few words like dada, mama, and cat. He is my buddy. I can spend hours on the floor with him playing and rolling around listening to him giggle and watching as he plays with his toys or chases our cat. Taking care of him has never once felt like a chore, but rather a calling. A call to serve the needs of my son.

I have rocked him to sleep darn near every day since he was born. I know the position best suited for him to fall asleep. I know when he's asleep, or just kind-of asleep.

Sleepy time
I know his mood, I understand his wimpers and his babble, I feel his pain when he falls, and I share his laughter when he's found something amusing. 
I love my son. I love my son more than I ever thought possible. He fills my thoughts all day long, and spending time with him and watching him grow every day gives me joy beyond measure. From the day I heard his heartbeat for the first time, to the first sonogram picture, to holding him when he was first born, to his first giggle, to his first crawl, to his first steps, to his first word, my whole world changes daily for the better because of him. I've made promises to myself that my son and my wife will always be taken care of. It is my life's passion to make sure that those two people always know that they are loved, and never want for anything, so help me God. And I know I'll need God's help all along the way, but in the way that God loved his son, Jesus Christ, I too aim to love my son in the same way.

And speaking of my wife, the arrival of our son made my love for my wife, Kimberly, grow ever stronger and more intense. Kim is a wonderful mother who loves her baby boy with a relentless passion that could never be denied, and for that - among many other reasons - I love her more and more every day.

One of my favorite pictures ever
Unfortunately, I don't think I've accurately portrayed my thoughts and feelings very well here. They run too deep and too strongly to convey in a few hundred words. Perhaps words are completely useless. The other fathers out there - including my own - understand this. But the words "Happy Father's Day" do strike a chord, because I am a father now, and those words carry an extra "oomph" that shoots to the core of me.

So Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. I'm one of you now, and it's amazing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let me go home...

In the past year, I have been to Ames, IA; Tempe, AZ; San Jose, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; Charleston, SC; Houston, TX; and San Francisco, CA; and I will soon be visiting Tampa, FL. I've made these visits because of the work that I do, and many of these were first-time visits to these locales. I'm very lucky to get to be able to travel to such wonderful locations, meet such wonderful people, and have such a wonderful job.

But I gotta tell you, with each trip I take, the first thing that runs through my mind as I walk out my front door, or get on a plane, or check into a hotel, is this song. The words ring true. It gets me every time. Let me go home...

Monday, February 21, 2011

(Whirl)winds of change

One of the first things Kim and I realized when we had a baby was that things When Kim was pregnant, a lot of people told us this would be the case, but like many things, you never truly understand until you've lived it.

Our little buddy - master of sitting up.
A lesson for all you new or soon-to-be-new parents: Don't get used to something your child does or doesn't do, because it won't take long for it to change.

Some recent changes with our 6 1/2-month old have brought this fact to light:
  • Within a span of a couple of days, Luke became a pro at sleeping through the night.

    He was always a good sleeper, typically only waking up once a night, but now, he goes 10 hours at least. This has greatly pleased his mother and father. Putting him down on his side helped. You can do this after six months after the risk of SIDS becomes nearly nonexistent.
  • Luke went from wearing 3-6 month clothes straight to 6-9 months, practically skipping the 6-month size altogether.

    Some outfits he only got to wear once, and some, he's already growing out of. We bought a new outfit for his 6-month pictures, and the dang thing probably only has one more wear in it before the shirt is too small.
  • We lowered his crib down a level this weekend - he's close to being able to pull himself up on the side, and I found him chewing on the side rail of the crib the other day.

    This change did not sit well with Kim. She was upset, because it was a very obvious sign that her little boy was getting bigger.
  • He's now eating yummy meats like chicken and turkey. Next up, beef and then macaroni and cheese!

    Not only that, but we recently started giving him little banana puffs for him to practice picking up small bits of food and putting them in his mouth. Yesterday, as if he'd done it for weeks, Luke picked up the first puff I gave him between his pointer finger and thumb, and stuffed it right in his mouth - easy as pie.
  • Luke is this close || from being able to crawl. We're almost mobile, and dad hasn't done any baby-proofing. Aaahhh!

    Right now though, he does this thing where he gets in a position like he's going to do baby push-ups. He can't quite figure out that to start moving forward, he has to move his hands. It's pretty funny to watch.
Baby pushups
  • Luke has found his "outside voice," and he loves to use it inside, particularly at dinner.

    Needless to say, Kim and I haven't been having a lot of peaceful, wind-down dinners. Rather, it's become more about shoving our food down so we can distract Luke from yelling at his toys and giving our cat the business. Whatever they did to offend him, I'll never know.
I know a lot of this seems trivial and insignificant to those of you who don't have children. But to a parent, it's huge. And besides, chances are this list is already obsolete, and it only took me 10 minutes to type.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Family vs. Fitness: The Showdown

Here's a question for all you working parents out there: How do you manage to go to the gym, or go on a run, or simply do something to try and stay fit while still managing to spend quality time with your spouse and your child?

Our little family

This is the unanswerable question of my life right now, because I simply cannot figure out how to partner the two worlds. I know it's cliche, but there are not enough hours in the day.

Without boring everyone with the details, my day begins at 5:45 a.m., with every morning a mad rush to get around, get Luke changed, fed, dressed, and help Kim get her stuff around before she's on her way to take Luke to daycare. I go to work, I pick up Luke after I get off work at 5, and by the time I'm home at 5:30 p.m., dinner must be made (I love to cook) while Kim feeds Luke. After dinner and before Luke's bedtime at 8 p.m., it's the only quality time I get with my wife and child during the week.

Let me be clear, I am not willing to give up what little time I spend with my wife and child during the week just to make it to the gym or go for a run. But getting out and being healthy is important to me, and it's important to Kim as well. We both want to be able to exercise, but there's no time except for the weekends, and two days out of the week isn't going to help much. Maybe something is better than nothing, but I want my workouts to be more meaningful.

Kim and I have considered simply sucking it up and rotating nights during the week who goes to the gym and who stays home with the little one. But neither of us want to do that, because then we're missing out on not only time with Luke, but also time with each other. It's looking more and more like we might have to invest in something like P90X or some other form of home workout DVDs, because right now, we're paying for a gym membership we've used less than 10 times since Luke was born. We're also going to buy a jogging stroller when the weather gets nicer. We'd like to train for a 5K later this spring. But there's something to be said for getting to the gym too, and I miss it, and so does Kim.

But those are our ideas. Anyone have any better ideas...or know how to add an hour or two to the day?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Let's try this again...

Welcome to The Ashford Castle. No, not that Ashford Castle...

No, instead, it's my new blog. I tried this blog thing once before, and that ended miserably. I didn't write enough, and consequently, it was a failed effort. Funny, considering I used to be employed as a writer at a newspaper. But I think that contributed to my lack of want-to when it came to writing. Working at a newspaper is a burn-out, and after I left, I didn't want to touch writing for a very long time.

But I've had a desire lately to get back into it. Not at a newspaper. Heck no, I've got an amazing job that has absolutely nothing to do with newspapers of any kind, which is definitely a good thing. Instead, I want to write to share my ideas and experiences, as a God-fearing Christian, as a husband to an incredible and everything-I-could-ever-want wife, as a father to a wonderful and amazing son, and as a brother, son, friend, co-worker, acquaintance, or whatever else you want to call me. All the things that make up my Castle - The Ashford Castle. There's even a jester...

Check back often. I hope I give you reason to.