growing up

The To-Do List

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Claire: “Papi you wanna play wit me?”

Me: “Not right now baby. We have to go to the grocery store, Costco, get gas, and pick up     mommy’s medicine. Not to mention finish the laundry.”

Claire: “Just 2 minutes Papi?”

Me: “Maybe later. If we have time.”
I find that the above interaction with my daughter is becoming more than just an occasional exchange. One day its groceries, another is picking up my gun from the gunsmith, another day it’s a Home Depot trip for lumber and a saw blade. There is always something going on that needs doing. Our family is busy, but so is every other family. As I re-read the conversation above it makes me angry, angry that I would dare say to my daughter that I don’t have 2 minutes for her. I spend more time updating my calorie counter app.

Claire turns 3 on Easter Sunday and I am finding that my little girl is growing up too fast. In the whirlwind of our busy lives there is this glorious gift we call Claire that repeatedly calls me to step outside of the business. To be childlike and enjoy these precious moments that are so quickly passing us by.

“2 minutes Papi.” But there is so much to do. “2 minutes papi.” I haven’t made dinner yet. “2 minutes papi.” I’m too tired baby. “2 minutes papi.” Baby, it has to get done.

It does have to get done. I am tired. Dinner needs to be made. There is so much to do. But my daughter is growing so fast…

I find that days go by and items are checked off my to-do list, yet the reason why I do those things (my family) seems to get the back burner. The to-do list gets things done so that my family is happier, yet it is keeping me from experiencing that happiness with them. The moments when I am playing with Claire I find that in the back of my mind the to-do list pops its head in, telling me there are things that need to be done for the family.

I don’t know if anyone else feels this way.

Maybe I’m ridiculous in my expectations. Maybe this is the way it is and I have to deal with it. Yet, Claire’s voice calls out to me. To enjoy the moments while they are still available.

“2 minutes Papi”.

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Categories: being too busy, blessings, Catholic, distractions, enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fathers, growing up, home and family, living in the moment, Parenting, time management, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Palpable Difference

File Aug 05, 5 23 47 PMThe last few weeks I have noticed a significant change in my relationship with my daughter. I don’t really know how or when it happened but it is palpably different. Claire and I have been hanging out and doing stuff like normal but I find that I am able to interact with her on a deeper level. Maybe it’s the fact that she can communicate with more than the word “no”. Claire is talking so much these days. Her ability to construct full sentences, and express her thoughts and feelings has changed the dynamic between us. I love it.

I know it sounds weird but I feel like I have a relationship with her now. Obviously, my wife and I have been in relationship with Claire since the womb, but the majority of womb to two has been meeting her needs. At this stage we are still meeting her needs, but there is more to it.

We took Claire to an amusement park last week and it was a blast! We had her ride the kiddy rides and she loved them. At one point there was this kids rollercoaster that we got in line for. I was a little apprehensive about it because it jerked around quite a bit. I had decided that I would keep my arm around Claire’s neck for extra support and comfort just in case she freaked out when the coaster started. As we got our lap belts fastened I gave Claire a pep talk, “This is going to go fast baby. Don’t worry I will be here with you ok?” Claire was too excited to care about what I was saying. I positioned my hand around her and was ready for a frightened kid. We had our first drop and Claire had an ear-to-ear grin that was accompanied with a loud “weeeeeee” as her arms were raised in the air. It was awesome.

After we got off the roller coasted my wife and I asked Claire what she wanted to do next and she responded with, “ride again.” We went from ride to ride eventually ending the day at the water park. The whole time Claire and I were hanging out there was this palpable difference. Claire interacted and laughed with us; she would run up to stuff and say, “Papi look!” I would respond with, “Wow! That’s amazing.” My daughter and I are growing in our relationship together and I love every minute of it.

I guess all parents recognize that at some point we will do more than change diapers and feed our kids. The reality of it happening is so cool and moving. This little person that I have the blessing of raising is fun, full of personality and someone I really love spending time with.

Categories: amusement parks, daughters, fatherhood, growing up, parent child relationship, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bye, Bye Baby

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I walked into my home the other day greeted by the following words from my wife, “Claire is too big to stay in her crib. We need to move her to a toddler bed.” I was puzzled at first.

Baby too big? No crib? Toddler bed?

I responded with a simple, “ok.” My wife began to explain that she had caught our daughter after her nap with her leg over the crib rail and was getting enough momentum to make an escape. When my wife checked to see what the weight and height is for switching to a toddler bed Claire had reached those measurements a while ago.

After eating dinner we spent the next 45 minutes putting together a toddler bed that had been given to us. As I assembled the toddler bed, my wife disassembled the crib. There was that “awww, she’s a big girl!” sentiment, mixed with a “she’s a big…girl…?” feeling. It was really weird. It felt like we were burring someone while new life was springing up right next to it. Claire was super excited at the reality that she was getting a new bed. There was no mourning on her end. No hesitancy to see the comfort of those four walls disappear before her very eyes. Meanwhile I am holding on to an Allen wrench in the fetal position wondering to myself, ‘what is happening?’

They outgrow things: clothes, car seats, and shoes. I have seen Claire outgrow several of these items, but her crib was the last symbol of her “babyness”. It’s definitely a little sad. My baby isn’t a baby anymore. She’s a little girl. I guess I knew this was going to happen and I understand that it is an inevitable part of life, but its weird. Part of me wants Claire to stay a baby so I can hold her longer and experience her in this oh, so short and unique time of life. However, Claire doesn’t want to be held. “I walk!” she says as she squirms from my arms to get to the ground. “I try!” comes out of her mouth as she attempts to figure things out. I step back and let her do it.

This discovering fatherhood journey has so many twist and turns. One minute I think I’ve got it figured out and the next I feel like I’m starting over again. Being a father is awesome but it is painful. As simple and necessary as it is for Claire to transition to a toddler bed a piece of me hurts inside.

It’s part of the process I guess.

Categories: cribs, daughters, fatherhood, growing up, outgrowing a crib, toddler bed, toddlers, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Potty Problems

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My daughter has been potty training for what seems like an eternity. We started her slowly at around 18 months because we knew she was capable of grasping this. Claire is now a little over two years old and is able to pee in the potty with no problem and for the most part keeps her Pull-Up diapers pretty dry. Although we’ve got the pee thing down; the dirty, not so distant relative of the vowel movement family is not something she seems to understand. Pooping is so much harder. My wife tells me that some kids usually grasp one over the other and so pooping is the one Claire doesn’t grasp. Claire has pooped in the potty before, a handful of times I might add. However, this has been due to us seeing her face turn a shade of red and purple that we’ve come to recognize.

We have instilled a price system for going to the potty that has stickers and a chart. For every 4 pees she gets to pick anything out of a plastic container we have in the bathroom. Every time she poops she automatically gets a price. The stickers show her how many more bathroom visits until she gets a price. The prices consist of chocolate, stickers, pencils, coloring pads, etc. Claire understands how this system works very well, she will say to me, “two more Papi and I get a dulce (candy in Spanish).” I will praise her and say, yes two more. However, she won’t poop in the potty. I speak slowly to her and try to explain it and even though she gets it for peeing she is missing it for the other. “Instant price Claire. Instant! No waiting 4 times, you get it right away!” She will smile and say ok and then go poop in a corner.

There are several people telling us their own particular methods of how to teach them and we have finally realized that Claire is too content with the amount of comfort the diaper provides. The padding in diapers absorbs and allow for the discomfort of a kids vowel movements to not be noticed much. So today we swung by Target and got two pairs of those training underwear. The idea is that it has less absorption fabric to catch pee or poop, but because its not too padded like a diaper the kid will recognize that ‘this is not very comfortable’ and hopefully be more aware of when needing to use the potty.

We just got this training underwear so I’m not sure what to expect. I have this slight fear that I will find my daughter opening her said underwear and fling poop everywhere in defiance. I’m fine with cleaning poop, but to randomly find it one day at home as I go about my day creeps me out.

Somehow it always comes back to poop on this blog…

Claire has been great in most things. We really have been blessed with her ability to follow instructions and deal with change. I hope that this poop problem doesn’t “hit the fan”.

Categories: baby pooping on you, fatherhood, growing up, potty, potty training | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Her Words

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Language is pretty amazing. The fact that we can create an alphabet that connects strings of letters into words; that when spoken create sounds; that create meaning; that convey thought and emotion is pretty astounding.

My daughter has so much to say these days. The world is new and filled with exciting things and she wants to tell us all about it. I can’t help but laugh every time Claire goes off on a rant about the neighbor’s dog barking, or about the cat jumping off the couch. Claire is speaking in her own baby language and I cant help but wonder what is going through that little head of hers. It really is amazing to see how vocal she is.

I don’t know about your kids but mine says things with certain pitches, tones and slurs. Each word comes out in this unique and ridiculously cute way. When she was 4 months old she made some noises that were awesome to hear. Claire couldn’t quite blow kisses; instead she did this clicking noise with her mouth. As Claire gets older her noises, voice and words change. My wife and I were amazed to hear that Claire’s voice had changed a few months ago. She woke up and sounded like someone else’s kid. It was sad in a sense, losing the old baby voice. Yet the new toddler voice is great. I’ve recorded some of Claire’s sounds and I’m really glad I did. I watch the videos every now and then and it reminds me of the change and growth.

I know soon enough she will be speaking plainly but right now there is something so neat about her babble. We are enjoying it and at the same time excited for when it all makes sense. My friend Scott jokingly says that when kids are young we are excited for them to walk and talk, and then for the rest of their lives we’re telling them to sit down and shut up. I’m sure there is much truth in that.

The miracle of the human person unfolds before me everyday through my daughter. Today I am noticing her words. Maybe tomorrow it will be the change in her fingers and toes, or facial features and hair. Everyday I am blown away by the awesomeness (in the literal sense of the word) that God has bestowed on human beings. Who knew that discovering fatherhood would have me discover more than what being a father means. Discovering the complexities of language, sounds and words—things we never really pay attention to reveals how mysterious and amazing the world I live in is.

All this brought to my life through a 1-½ year old.

* The above image is a word cloud made up of the many words found in this blog.

Categories: baby talk, children, daughters, fatherhood, fathers, growing up, language, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Oh, Boy’s.

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Claire is 16 months old and my usual concerns with her range from whether or not she’s holding my hand while going outside, brushing her teeth, making sure mangos and French fries are not all that she eats, and making sure I have a paci with me at all times—the usual dad stuff. In my mind I know that in a far off distance boys will become a concern, but I never thought it would be this soon.

Most boys that are around Claire’s age are typically busy playing, running circles around their parents and not paying attention to girls in an aesthetically-pleasing-sort-of-way. However, on three separate occasions I have had boys that are around Claire’s age literally gazing at my daughter in that glassy-eyed-stupor that is common to boys 13 years old or older.

The first time it occurred we were at Mass and a boy of 3-4 years old sat in front of us. The entire time he was glued to Claire. I didn’t think anything of it—she is a cute baby. It wasn’t until the little boy turned to his mother at the end of Mass and said, “Mommy, she is beautiful.” that I thought, that’s interesting. The second time was a similar situation that ended with a little boy telling Claire and I that she was pretty. The third time was while shopping. A young family saw Claire and she waved to them. The mother approached us with her clan and shopping cart and waved back to Claire telling her how beautiful she was. This I expect from adults. This woman’s younger son looked at Claire, turned to his mother while pulling on her shirt and said in a very serious voice, “Mommy she is beautiful.”

Oh, boy!

I think my daughter is beautiful—she looks like my wife and Jess is beautiful! Yet, I have never thought of Claire as one of those stop you in your tracks kind of babies. I was telling Claire’s Godfather about these strange incidents (the three above are just a few) and he looked at me and said with a very serious and intense voice, “Dude. Claire is beautiful.”

So here we are at 16 months old and boys are checking my girl out. Sigh…

Since this boy situation seems to be creeping in a little sooner than expected it is a great opportunity for my wife and I to begin teaching Claire about her beauty. I am not speaking here primarily of her outward aesthetic beauty. I am speaking of the beauty that does not fade, is incorruptible no matter what she or someone does. This beauty is the beauty of being made in God’s image and likeness. We want Claire to recognize the gift that this beauty is and how precious she is as a person. We also want to make sure that she recognizes the power and responsibility that an aesthetically beautiful woman has. I don’t know if many fathers have these conversations with their daughters.

Outward beauty can easily be used and manipulated for all the wrong reasons, and Lord knows we don’t need more of that in this world. I want my daughter to see that her inherent, God given beauty is the most important thing and that her outward beauty should reflect the reality of that inner beauty. As a man I am well aware of the power an outwardly beautiful woman can have on me and I think that if this isn’t communicated to my daughter it could be a bad thing. With that being said, I also know the power a woman can have on a man who recognizes her inherent beauty and allows it to shine through. My wife is the perfect example. It can literally change a man.

I’m excited at the opportunity to help my daughter discover all of her beauty and to be the gift that she is called to be in this world. But boys, seriously. Can we wait till she is at least out of diapers? Or 16 years old? Better yet, let’s wait till she graduates college. Oh, boy!

Categories: boys and girls, Crush, daughters, dignity, fatherhood, growing up, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Metamorphosis

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I am changing.

I am not the same person I use to be.

There is a change. It is gradual, but noticeable.

When my wife and I first got married sometimes we would have different days off. My normal response was to rent a new video game and play it for an ungodly amount of time, or watch movies, or binge on TV shows. It was ok. I enjoy video games, movies and TV shows.

Every now and then I get a day where my wife and daughter will be away from the house. Sometimes I spend time watching TV or a movie, but most of the time I am thinking about things like house projects: staining the fence, painting the rooms I never got around to, dry walling the basement we had to gut, etc. More often than not it’s smaller things like taking the trash out or going grocery shopping or cleaning the house.

A few weeks ago I notice that I had a four hour window of time to myself and my immediate reaction was to do something for my family. It was strange in a sense. I think most of the time in a situation like this I would want to do my own thing, relax and let it be a easy day. Yet, there is stuff that needs to get done for our family. I recognize that my wife and daughter probably would say, “chill out and enjoy those four hours.”

However, there is this change in me that desires to serve.

“People that know about these type of things” say that most modern men don’t really mature now a days until they are in their mid to late twenties. Maybe I am maturing. Maybe this desire to serve is proof that this man has reached full manhood status. My response: about freaking time! I am 32.

In discovering fatherhood I am discovering who I am called to be – a servant. Not someone that aims to please himself, because although it is okay to use four hours for R-and-R I much rather use them to make my wife and daughters life better. I don’t know if I would have said the same thing a year ago or six months ago.

But today there is this change in me. It is gradual, but noticeable.

Categories: best self, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, growing up, husband and wife, Transformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Year In


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Its still mind blowing to me, but my daughter is a year old. One full year zoomed by. I’ve been looking back over the past year and here are some things I wanted to share a year in:

  • You will never be ready to be a father in the grand scheme of things. You can read every book, go to seminars, pray all day—all of which are great things to do, but you will never be ready. It is okay. Be a father anyway.
  • Prepare your house before the baby comes. I installed a gate on my stairs 6 months before Claire was born. It was soooo smart. Don’t wait till the baby is born!
  • Sleep is over rated. Seriously, we only need a solid 5-6 hours to function. You can sleep when you die.
  • Be your wife’s greatest fan. She had this child come out of her body! She deserves praise! The more you love her and serve her before and after the baby is born the easier her recovery will be and the more she will love you.
  • Get involved! Sure you can’t breastfeed them at night, but you can give them a bottle, change diapers, bathe them or rock the baby to sleep. Don’t be a dead beat—man up!
  • Reusable diapers are good in theory. They absolutely suck in practice. You want to be green and recycle—get a trashcan just for mixed papers. There’s your tree hugger tip of the day.
  • Give your kid quality time. My daughter won’t remember the moments I spent gazing and smiling at her, or playing with her feet. Her memory won’t remember, but somehow a child is able to retain those experiences and connect with those actions, which nourishes and nurtures them.
  • Go out on a date. You will probably talk about the baby all night long, but you deserve and need a night to be a couple.
  • It is possible to cook, clean and do the normal things post baby—you just need to make time for it. If your anal like me, relax and know that some of those projects may take weeks instead of hours to get done.
  • Take pictures and videos. Capture those moments and cute things your kids do that will disappear in the next few months. However, don’t be one of those people that lives their kids childhood through a cell phone screen.
  • Give yourself away. The more you try to hold on to your time the less you will enjoy it, the less meaning you will find. Yes you need some alone time, but remember life is meant to be lived for others.
  • Be interruptible: This is probably the thing I struggle with the most. If I have something planned I want it to go my way, but a lot of time there are interruptions and we have to be willing to give them permission. Sometimes those interruptions are better than anything we had planned.

Being a father is hard work, but also amazing. I’m sure next year this list will look different, but for now these are things that I have noticed and wanted to share about my journey of discovering fatherhood.

Categories: fatherhood, growing up, home and family, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cor Meum

heart in handIt is hard to believe, but my daughter turned a year old two weeks ago. I blinked and she had teeth, hair, and now she moves. Everyone says that the first year flies by and everyone is right.

My wife and I had a little birthday party for Claire at our home with family. Someone asked me, “How does it feel to have a kid?” I gave a simple reply, “its amazing.” It is amazing, but there is so much more to it than that.

This is what I was really thinking.

I feel like the moment my daughter was born my heart was ripped out of my chest. No anesthesia, no scalpel, no warning—ripped out. It was given arms, legs, and the ability to move. My heart was no longer secure and protected by my rib cage. It was out, exposed, and vulnerable. My heart was no longer mine. In this exposed and vulnerable state, I loved it and yet feared for it. My heart—I guess I should call it by her new name, “Claire”—is the most painful and most beautiful thing to ever happen to me.

Claire moves, falls, cries, laughs, and smiles. Each movement, action, and emotion tugs at me. It is an incredible metaphysical-like-experience. She smiles and I feel it, she cries and I experience it, she laughs and I enjoy it. The feeling of this walking, breathing, and exposed heart is much more sensitive. My heart has never felt like this before. I have never had it hurt or be filled with joy so easily.

It is something words cannot fully describe.

It doesn’t just end with Claire and me. My wife and I are united in this indescribable metaphysical-like-experience. We simultaneously feel when our heart falls and hurts herself. We can be overwhelmed by our heart’s piercing laugh and tear up at her beauty as we gaze at her. My wife and I are more vulnerable and exposed than ever before.

It is beautiful and excruciatingly frightening, but love always is.

The crazy thing is that when my wife and I have more kids this will happen all over again. As we all know we cannot give part of our heart to someone…it is all or nothing. So, if we have 3 kids, each one of them will have my heart completely. I can’t comprehend how I can possibly experience that amount of joy, pain, and beauty all at the same time, but that is what Grace is for.

If it feels like this while she is 1 year old I might just die when she is going out to the movies, is hanging out with friends, or—oh dear, God—when she goes out on her first date!

It is beautiful and excruciatingly frightening, but love always is.

Categories: children, daughters, fatherhood, growing up, home and family, husband and wife, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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