I think New York City at Christmas time is one of those things that's impossible to explain with words or pictures, but I hope this post gives you at least a little taste of the experience. My wife and I have wanted to go for quite a while, and decided that December was the best time for a couple of Griswolds like us to make our first trip to the Big Apple.Read More
"I'm thankful for my son's happiness. I challenge anyone to stay in a bad mood or be grumpy after that boy smiles or laughs at you. His positive energy is infectious and I'm thankful for that every single day. Also, I'm thankful for Samaje Perine. I don't think I even need to explain why...am I right?"
"First of all, I'm thankful for God, above everything. After that, I'm thankful that I've been able to watch my kids grow up."
"I'm so thankful for the supportive community and my sweet friends for their continued support over the last few weeks as they got to see me stand up and walk again using the ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton. I'm beyond thankful to stand up and hug my family eye to eye again after 11 difficult years."
"I'm thankful that we have 109 dogs here today. It pays the bills."
"I'm thankful for these cuties. They bring me joy and make me laugh every day. Everyone needs a cat or two in their life."
"This year brought us a precious gift and blessing. We're infinitely thankful for our sweet Emory who was born in September. He's a healthy, handsome boy that has shown us how to love beyond measure."
"As we look back on this year, our little family has had to overcome huge trials and tragedy. This has allowed us to find greater meaning in the things we are thankful for. This year, we're so thankful for the gift of life. Each one is such a precious gift and we're especially grateful for the three little lives that our family was blessed with and the impact they each had on numerous people. We are so very thankful for our miracle baby, Emma Kate, and the strength and courage God gave her to survive and fight through 129 days in the NICU. We are thankful for the impact of her life on so many people that we witnessed daily, and the renewal of people's faith and belief in God. We are also thankful for the medical staff at Mercy hospital that kept our girl safe and fought along side her day and night. And lastly, we are so thankful beyond belief, for the countless friends, family, and strangers who shared in our triumphs and trials, who prayed with deep compassion, and loved us beyond measure. We end this year with humility and gratitude for all we have been given. Our God is powerful and has never left our side. We are thankful to be called His children, and this year that has an even greater meaning."
"I'm thankful for my family... especially this guy. 99 years old yesterday. I'm thankful that my 16 month old daughter got to dance to jazz at his retirement community... And she got to kiss him and tell him she loves him. Top 10 moments..."
"One word: MILKBONES! Or is that two words? I'm still working on my spelling. I'm also thankful for my little brother's tasty pacifiers. And for my mom and dad...they still love me even when I toot out loud and be naughty like that time I ate a whole loaf of bread."
I'll preface this by saying most of these things I “knew” before having a kid, but didn’t really learn them until I did.
1. Women are amazing
I mean seriously, think about it for a second. They carry human beings around inside their belly for nine months! We're talking 24/7. No breaks, no breathers, no time off. Then, when it's finally time for that kid to make his or her grand appearance, it's not like the show's over. Noooo sir, that's when things really get crazy. I mean we're talking about pushing a live human being out of your body. They don't call it labor for nothin'. Seeing the focus, determination, bravery, mental toughness, physical strength, and perseverance my wife showed through this experience was pretty mind-blowing. Thank the Good Lord I was born a man, because I'm sorry, but there's just no way. I get a splinter and you'd think someone stabbed me in the hand with a butcher knife. Oh and guess what, after all that craziness, it's nowhere NEAR over! Then comes breastfeeding, waking up at all unrighteous hours of the night, changing, cleaning bottles, teaching your husband how to do everything because he's clueless (that wasn't just me, right?), all while still keeping the house in order. WHAT?! I could go on and on. It’s a good idea to tell her how much you love and appreciate her every day. Also, some cash to go get a mani/pedi while you watch the kid is always a good idea too.
2. Changing poopy diapers is NOT that bad. Until…
Honestly before my son was born, I don't think I had ever changed a single poopy diaper, even though I have multiple nieces and nephews. I wasn't totally sure what to expect, but I knew my 26-year streak of not touching or point-blank smelling poop would soon come to an end. No one really told me that there were phases. It's probably common sense, but I'm about as sharp as a marble. When babies are brand new and they’re driving the breast milk gravy-train, their poop diapers ain't no thang. I thought, “Wow this is what I always hear everybody whining about? What a bunch of chumps!" But after a while, we started feeding Sully "real food." Obviously it wasn't much at first, so I didn't notice much of a difference. But once he started eating a variety, and more often…well, the baby poop hit the fan. Back in the beginning, I used to open diapers and be surprised, "Oh look, you pooped!” Suddenly, there were no more surprises. I could now smell it across the house. Like someone rolled a rotten piece of fruit through a fresh steaming cow patty and then Randy Johnson threw it at your face. We’re talking gag-a-maggot. South end of a Northbound mule on a 3 day hike. Peelin’ paint off the walls. Plus I started finding stuff in it. Like whole blueberries. Anyway, the bigger point here is don’t get cocky! Pride comes before a fall. Just when I thought I had the diaper game on lockdown, the outrageous stinky stank and poop-splosions were just around the corner. I doubt I’ll ever master any aspect of parenting. At least I know that now.
3. Being a parent forces you to stop putting yourself first, but you don't mind
This one probably sounds like a big “DUH!” and yes I knew it would happen, but you can’t really learn it until you go through it. When I say it “forces” you, I don’t mean that in a bad way. You really don’t even realize it’s happening. You’re so focused on what your kid needs, you almost forget about doing anything for yourself. Maybe it’s spending the entire night “sleeping” (a.k.a. not sleeping at all) on the floor next to the crib. Or later, realizing they actually like whatever it is you’re eating, and you’re so happy, you give them all of it without caring if you eat anything at all! I think in recent years, people have become even more focused on themselves than ever before (speaking to myself here, too). I’m sure tons of things have contributed to this…for instance, social media. Look what I’m doing! How many “likes” can I get? Here’s my collection of 100 selfies! That’s just one silly example, but something has gotten us all way too focused on me, myself, and I. Phillipians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition of vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others.” I think taking care of a child is one of the absolute best ways to really learn how to do this. Of course, we should also apply it to everyone else we come into contact with in our lives.
4. Kids will get hurt. But they’ll also bounce right back.
I’m a worrier. If you know me at all, you know this. I shouldn’t be, I don’t want to be, and I try not to be. But I am. So naturally, as Sullivan has gotten more mobile, I’ve developed this (probably really annoying) habit of following him everywhere he goes and being about a foot away from him at any given time. You can roll your eyes, it’s ok. I’m working on it. Anyway, even with me doing that, he has gone face-first off our bed, face-first off the step from our entryway to our living room, backwards off of his ride-around doggy toy, and seen his fair share of other bumps and bruises. It’s inevitable. Of course I’m not suggesting that new parents pay no attention to what their kid is doing, but don’t think you’re going to keep them 100% unscathed either. No matter how bad you want to. The cool thing is, kids are resilient! In no time at all, they’re right back to playing, acting like nothing ever happened. It’s like they don’t really know it’s an option to dwell on the fact that something bad happened. Maybe we can learn something there. Bad stuff will happen to you. But you have a choice of how to deal with it. Don’t choose be upset or hurt longer than you have to.
These four things are just the tip of the iceberg. The master list is probably somewhere around 100. As I think about these things, I pray the Lord blesses me with many more years, kids, and lessons (plus the wisdom to see them, the patience to learn them, and the brains to use them.)
I always get super pumped to go to the state fair. The people watching (seriously, I'm not sure where these people come from...do the state penitentiaries do field trips?), the outrageous amount of fried everything (quinoa and kale chips not welcome), the atmosphere and enjoying the cooler weather (what's up with it raining every single opening weekend? It's like somehow the scurrying around setting everything up is some kind of carnie rain dance). But I build it up in my mind so much that it almost always lets me down.
This year wouldn't have been any different except for one thing: the kids! I got to take Sully for the first time, and his cousins all came along too. The food was a letdown (fried gator that tasted like chewing a hunk of tire you'd find on the side of the highway - seriously I'd have been better off wipin' my hind end with that $8). The people watching was okay, except the whole time I felt like I was going to catch some sort of deadly communicable disease. I have to admit, the weather was awesome. But above all that, what really made it worthwhile was seeing the kids' eyes get wide when they saw the lights, the rides, and the games.
That's one of the many things I've learned during my short time as a parent so far. It doesn't really matter as much how you feel about something, but seeing your kids happy, makes you happy.
Here are a few pics. I especially love the one of all the kids where I said "EVERYONE LOOK AT ME!" and made a bunch of crazy noises...as you can see, I was 0 for 4.