Despite the cliche, “they grow up so fast,” I will admit that these past six months have been the quickest six months of my life. And yes, Jack has definitely sprouted up very quickly. Six months ago my wife and I held a baby in our arms, with zero personal experience. Now, we have no longer have a newborn, but instead an infant. An infant who can eat ground up fruits, veggies, and grains- not just formula. Who is attempting to crawl. Who is outgrowing his original car seat.
And I’ve been waiting until Jack turned six months old to officially say what has been pretty obvious for a while now: Jack has blue eyes. I know there was a possibility that his eyes could get darker up until this point. I never thought that it was even possible for my wife and I to have a blue eyed child. It’s pretty funny, actually.
Not only has Jack changed in so many big ways since November 16th, 2011. But I have as well. You can’t be a parent and not become a different person in the process. Even in just six month’s time. Especially in the first six month’s time.
Am I writing this morning about Jack or myself? Equally both, at best. At age 29, when we found out we were going to have a baby, I had reached a point in my life where I evidently stopped growing and maturing as a person. And since he was born, I’ve made up for any lost time as far as personal development.
I’ve undergone so many changes in the last six months that the best and perfect comparison would be to Desmond on Lost, who traveled in and out of time, disoriented of where and “when” he was. I do feel spaced out, in the most literal way that the phrase “spaced out” can be used. I’m trying to remember what it means to “be myself,” when becoming a father obviously changes that version of “myself” who I completely understood and had figured out.
Of course, these “who am I?” sort of thoughts aren’t red flags for some kind of personal crisis. Instead, this is just me pointing out that I (and I assume other first time parents, too) undergo so many changes in their life at once that they have to take time to deliberately and specifically figure out who this new person is that they’ve become. Not a bad version of who they are; just the different version that is required of them in becoming a parent.
By no means does a person stop growing up just because they turn 30. Instead, some of the greatest maturity is happening at that age, for me. And at six months old, I think it’s safe to say that Jack is experiencing some of the same thoughts in his own little baby brain. The question is whether or not he’s more spaced out than I am.
If you are a regular reader of my “daddy blog”, then you know my writing style well enough to expect this to be a post about Jack being able to literally put his foot in his mouth- and by the end I will make mention that as he gets older he will metaphorically put his foot in his mouth by not knowing when to stop talking- as often is the case with guys. So surely I will need to throw in a reference to John Mayer’s song, “My Stupid Mouth.” But that would be too predictable. So no metaphors this time around- this entry is simply about my son discovering his toes and sucking on them. No “big picture” ideas today.
Jack has discovered his feet. I don’t know if he realizes they are his feet, though. Like the way a dog chases its tail, providing hilarious entertainment for spectators, so is Jack’s love/hate relationship with his feet. I’m assuming that he thinks his toes are little grub worms, and forgetting that the only “solid food” he is eating right now is crushed up oatmeal and bananas, not grub worms, he decides to attack his toes when they are not looking. And might I add, he gets ‘em every time!
His slobber is noticeably thick this days, so each time he bites his toes with his toothless gums, the end result somehow reminds me of every alien sci-fi movie I’ve never seen, yet still recognize the image for. But aside from the humor of watching Jack sneak up and attack his toes, and aside from the grossness of it, is the surprising element of it: A baby, with the body proportions of the Michelin Man, is limber enough to easily stick his foot to his mouth anytime he wants.
I completely admit that in the middle of typing that last sentence, I had to stick my foot to my mouth to see if I could do it too. I can. But not as effortless as Jack.
Bonus: Last week I was interviewed and quoted in a Mother’s Day article by Megan Mattes, on Parents.com. Click here to see it.
Jack travels well. And that makes life a lot easier for my wife and I. He really didn’t mind camping out two nights without power, then traveling an hour to stay in Georgia for two nights to stay in a hotel suite with us along with his grandparents, aunt, and uncle. For a couple of days, we lived amongst people who were instantly made homeless by last week’s tornados, like Pastor Sidney Ford, featured here in this story by ABC. He was such a blessing to us and it was an honor to meet him.
For us, life is picking back up to its state of normalcy. Our power came back on Sunday afternoon, and everyone in my family was able to return to work on Monday. My employer (who is also my dad’s employer as well) is so gracious to us that they are paying our wages for last Thursday and Friday, when no one could come to work because the entire city was without power. I am constantly aware of how blessed (by grace) and spared (by mercy) I am.
I’m not convinced I’m the kind of person who has to be reminded by a tragic event just how fortunate I am- who gets so caught up in the “hustle and bustle” of life that they “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Because I make it one of my daily personal goals not to become distracted by life- by the chaos and unsettledness and not-knowingness that each day brings. I’m not saying that’s easy. Something life has taught me is that typically when I am the least happiest, it’s often because I am focusing too negatively inward and not enough positively outward. My own mind and attitude are fortunately and unfortunately much stronger and influential than I often realize and give them credit for.
But Jack doesn’t have to worry about that kind of stuff yet. As long as he’s fed, played with, has his diapers changed, and has assistance falling asleep, he’s just happy to be here. He thinks everyday is a celebration just to be alive. And I believe that is one of the many reasons that a baby brings so much joy to us adults. Babies teach us so much without speaking any intelligible words.
Our power went out Wednesday at 5:30 PM, an hour before the Wheel of Fortune episode I had been promoting would have aired. Thursday afternoon after I posted from a Starbucks in Rome, Georgia, we drove home and collected all of the salvageable food from our fridge and freezer. My parents, along with my sister and her husband, did the same thing. My dad used his gas grill to cook Thursday’s dinner and Friday’s breakfast. I never thought of cooking spaghetti, peach pie, and scrambled eggs on a grill, but it all turned out very well.
We didn’t go hungry, but I will admit, Baby Jack didn’t sleep very well through Thursday night- nor did his mom or me. He woke up pretty much once an hour, and each time he did, the only light we had to rely on were our cell phones, which were already going dead. Not really knowing when the power would come back on, my mom had me book a suite in Rome, GA for the 7 of us to stay in Friday and Saturday night. And that brings me to now:
Jack's bath time in the hotel sink, last night.
It’s 6:05 Saturday morning and I’m writing this in the dark- not because there is no power here in this Country Inn & Suites, but because Jack, Jill, and I are sleeping in the main room on the fold-out couch and I don’t want to wake Jack. Here at the hotel, he’s had his first decent night of sleep since the tragic tornadoes causing the power going out.
As I logged on to Facebook a few minutes ago, I saw that my friends on Lookout Mountain where I live (half of Fort Payne is on the mountain; half is not) now have power again. Granted, that doesn’t mean any of my family will be able to return to work, since most businesses are located down in the valley. But at least we can return tomorrow to our empowered houses again. Though now there is no food in our refrigerators and I can imagine how it will be the first several days as the grocery stores began getting in new shipments of food.
But thank God the power is returning quicker than we expected and again, that we are even alive and still have houses to go home to. Last night in the hotel lobby I talked to a man and his wife who are staying here because they lost their home in the tornado. For those who follow my “dad from day one” series, imagine what must be going through my head concerning our move to Alabama back in December. We have now survived four of unemployment with a newborn, then not even a month into my new job, we are spared from the deadliest tornado since 1974, and possibly since 1932. According to Wikipedia, over 350 people were killed by the tornadoes; 250 of those being in Alabama alone.
You can imagine some questioning on my end, as far as our decision to move from Nashville to Alabama.
This picture was taken in complete darkness, other than the candle on the table. (I used the flash on my camera.)
However, following what we perceive as God’s will doesn’t mean we are taking the easy road, leading us to an extravagant life of riches. In our case, our current test of faith has everything to do with the willingness to resettle our lives in Alabama. No decision we can make in our lives can guarantee things will get either better or worse. It’s a lot like Wheel of Fortune.
Which, speaking of, I just want to again invite anyone who missed Diana (who gave me the idea for the name of my upcoming spin-off) on Wheel of Fortune the night of the tornadoes, to watch the episode now.
CHICAGO MOM SPINS AND WINS ON
“WHEEL OF FORTUNE”
Diana Taub of Chicago, IL, will be a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune” on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Diana is a huge fan of “Wheel” and grew up watching the show. A former elementary school teacher, she used to play a version of the game in the classroom with her students. Diana currently stays at home with her eight month old son, Jake. In her free time she enjoys baking, photography and crocheting. She hopes to use her winnings to turn her favorite hobby of photography into a business. Diana also wants to take her mother on a trip to Scotland. She tried out to be a contestant at a Wheelmobile event.
Additional Information: Diana won $7,050 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Dublin, Ireland.
Jack, helping us survey for storm damage this morning.
Thank the Good Lord, we were spared from the damage of the violent tornadoes this week. Granted, I’m writing this from inside a Starbucks across the state border, in Rome, Georgia. That’s because currently, it is my understanding, that most of Northeast Alabama is without power and Internet. Sadly, nearly 300 have been confirmed dead because of this week’s storms in the Southeast- not to mention all of the homes, businesses, and churches that have been destroyed.
Our next door neighbor's front yard.
I came home from work yesterday and at ate an early dinner with my family, and as I finished my last bite of dinner, the power went out. Thinking the power would eventually come back on, we spent most of the next four hours in the bathtub. By bedtime, it was safe to get out of the tub, but still no power. This morning when I woke up I learned by calling my dad that there was no need to show up to work since the whole city was without power too. We are expecting to be without power for five days.
We salvaged what we could from the refrigerator and made it our lunch. After we leave Starbucks in a few minutes, we will pick up some nonperishable groceries to last us until the beginning of next week. I am extremely grateful that all my family and our homes were not damaged by the storms, but I can’t help but constantly think about and pray for all those who were not so fortunate.
Even if our power wouldn’t have went last night, the constant weather coverage would have prevented us from watching our friend Diana on Wheel of Fortune. So we just watched on YouTube a few minutes ago: