Monday, April 6, 2009

Angels in the rafters...

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Church on Sunday mornings has become a completely different experience with a child. It involves arriving late, running to the nursery, looking high and low for a seat so that my wife and I can sit together (since we arrived late) and every so often a nursery pager that goes off resulting in one of us is running back to the nursery to console our distressed child.

Despite its hectic beginning, my Sunday worship experience has become fundamentally different. Katie decided early on that we should go get Elijah from the nursery for worship time so he can participate. And every Sunday he immediately does the same thing when he enters the sanctuary...he stares at the ceiling. More pragmatic people would say that he is probably looking at the cool hanging lights or the moving fans. Not me, I think he is looking at angels in the rafters. Jesus makes it very clear throughout the New Testament that children have a special place in his heart. They are not jaded from the reality of the world and their faith is robust and unshakable. I really believe that when Elijah is staring at the ceiling, his innocent eyes and simple heart sees what so many of us miss, he knows the truth of "when one or more are gathered" because he sees it with his own eyes the moment he enters for worship. This last Sunday was especially poignant. At the end of the service the pastor often gives the congregation time to reflect on the sermon with a song, prayer, or reflection. As we stood, holding our son, who had a large smile on his face (that was partially hidden by his pacifier) he lifted his voice...joyfully speaking his thoughts aloud for all to hear. And while we couldn't understand him, I know that his heavenly father could. And I am sure he was smiling.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


So…we are back from our trip to Chicago and the first thing I have to say is BOO to United Airlines. No snacks, you get charged $15.00 for the first piece of checked luggage and $25.00 for the next one, and there is NO PRE-BOARDING FOR FAMILIES WITH SMALL CHILDREN! What is this world coming to? I mean seriously, no pre-boarding? I am calling on you all to boycott United! Write letters of complaint to your senator! This is a travesty for all new parents who one day hoped to board before everyone else!

Lucky for us our son was an angel when it came to traveling…and we did plenty of it. Out of Seattle on Thursday at 1:30 PM: 4 hour flight to Chicago + dinner with family + drive from Chicago to the suburbs = bedtime at 1 a.m. Up on Friday morning at 4:15 AM, left the house at 5:00 and drove 7+ hours to Wisconsin! Spent a fun three days in Wisconsin with Katie’s family and then drove another 7+ hours back to the suburbs on Tuesday. One day of rest (Wednesday) and then another 4 hour flight back to Seattle on Thursday. 22 hours of travel with a six month old child and maybe 30 minutes of crying. He got a little fussy on the flight ride home but overall did an AMAZING job! Of course because of all this he has a rash on his back and bottom (likely from sitting in a car-seat for way to long) and went from waking up maybe once a night to 2-3 times a night.

This brings me to another thought, when was the last time you took a vacation that you didn’t return feeling more exhausted than when you left? I have done some serious thinking about this, and I am not entirely sure that I have ever experienced a vacation like that. Do such things exist? The closest I can think of coming to that was when my wife and I flew to Bali for Christmas vacation while we were living in Indonesia. We had some flex time before and after our trip and we didn’t kill ourselves trying to do everything we could think of. Plus, we got to eat real American food. More typical would be something like our trip to Vancouver BC a year or so after we got married. Long weekend, 3+ hour drive, allot of walking, even more walking because our car got towed and I refused to take mass transit to the tow lot because I was not going to contribute any more money to the city of Vancouver, 3+ hour drive back. There were bright spots (aquarium, hotel on the water, beautiful wife) but overall, I got back and needed a vacation to recover from my vacation. Now that kids are in the picture, I am not sure that a “relaxing” vacation will ever be tenable again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


My child has a stuffy nose. This means he is waking up much more often. This in turn means that I (and my poor wife) are waking up more often. It also means that we have to suction his nose with one of those little bulb things...which he doesn't like and in fact screams a type of scream that no parent should be subject to...after one of his nose clearing sessions last night I literally felt like I should be turning myself in to Child Protective Services. That is really neither here nor there except to say that I am tired. Because of this I am going to subject you to some Haiku's that I have written as a new dad because I don't have the energy to come up with anything new to talk about this week and these were already written and so could be cut and pasted below.

A few things on Haiku. I am not exceptionally good at writing them, but they are my favorite type of poetry. To me, they are like a snapshot of a moment and if written well really convey the sense of that moment in a way nothing else can. They are often described as being combinations of three lines, 5-7-5 syllable structure, are about a season, and including a cutting word. However, people who study these things conclude that in order to stay true to the Japanese it is more accurate for a Haiku to include a structure of 2-3-2 with the syllables in question being accented syllables and can include up to 5 more unaccented syllables for a grand total of no more than 12. I haven't quite got the full hang of accented vs unaccented syllables or the whole "cutting word" thing. If you are interested in learning more, my wife bought me an awesome book explaining the whole Haiku thing in very small words and easy to understand sentences. Ok, enough writing...hope you enjoy!

Five months
Chubby fingers grasp
Unlimited potential
Eyes Droop
Headless chicken guides
Tired feet
Toothless Smile
Small Fingers: Five
Simple affection
High pitched
Frantic sirens call
Blaring baby Cry
Curses muttered under breath
Sleepy eyes open
Not a haiku….but counts up to six and back down to one (syllables)

Biting Cold
Rushed Arrival
Clacking of Keyboards
Grey Walls Swallow Me Whole
Stopping for a Breath
Giggle echoes
Through the Din

Friday, January 23, 2009

What it all means....

It has now been a little over a year since I first found out that I was going to be a father. Between then and now, the number one question everyone wants answered is "What is it like to be a new dad?" Everyone asks me this. The checker at the grocery store, the telemarketer who calls during my dinner, old friends, new friends, family members, the homeless guy standing outside of Pikes Place, in fact if you are reading this post, odds are that you have asked me this at least one time and if you haven't I am sure you have wanted to.

The reason I think of this now, is because on my bike ride into work this morning there was an interview on NPR between a father and his son through the storycorps program (On a side note, if you haven't checked out storycorps, stop what you are doing right now and check it out! It will be worth every second you spend listening.) and found myself close to tears. Here I am, on my bike, in industrial south Seattle, at 5:30 in the morning, about to weep. I then promptly hit a pothole, nearly died, and was jarred out of my sentimental stupor. But this is exactly my point! becoming a father does this to you! My eyes are misting up now just thinking about the interview. I am an emotional wreck! Of course, this could be because I only got four hours of sleep last night because my son decided to scream for an entire hour last night. (This is really my fault because I wanted to let him cry it out...Wife wanted to feed him after the first fifteen usual Wife was correct and I would have gotten some extra sleep if I would have just listened to her) but this is besides the point.

So a few comments on what it is like to be a father....

It means you find yourself balancing on one leg with your hands covering your face while making unintelligible noises just to produce a smile out of your child.

It means when you are not holding your son, you want to be holding him, but when you are holding him your are not quite sure what to do with him...except to look at the boy, wonder what he is thinking, remember you had some chores to do, and then hand him back to mom...only to wish you could have him back once you start doing your chores.

It means realizing that for the rest of your life between a wife is (graciously) right most of the time, and a child who will (theoretically and not so graciously) right all of the time, you are going to be wrong 99% of the time.

It means admitting that your parents were probably right 95% of the time.

It means understanding and accepting that the whole responsibility thing has been kicked up by about 10 levels.

It means (if you have a son) that despite how in shape you are, how much hair you might have and how great your smile is, you are no longer the best looking male in your wife's life.

It means you will likely have to take out huge loans, work long hours, and sweat blood to provide for you child...and you are fine with that.

It means all that crap you gave your Dad (or Mom) about pushing you to be better and wishing they would love you "even if you ended up being a bum on the street." Was exactly that, crap.

It means every day you realize that this little being, all 15 lbs of him, is going to break you heart someday...probably many times...and that it is going to be worth it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Among the myriads of baby toys, there are a few that make sense or are truly cool; a blanket with one corner that has soft rubber on it so it can be an effective chew toy and rubber ducks that light up when placed in the bathtub (thanks mom!) are just a couple of examples.

There are also those that are incredibly obnoxious and/or pointless... i.e. anything that makes buzzing/beeping/squealing noises, talks in an annoying voice, plays an incredibly repetitive song (like the birthday card I bought my best friends two year old [insert evil maniacal laugh here]) or anything that promises to improve the intelligence of your child.

Then there are those true rarities, the toys that are so compelling to your little one that they become a premature addict. These toys vary from child to child, and can catch you completely by surprise. Our son was recently given a teething toy that vibrates when he bites down on it hard enough that he has become slightly addicted to. When the darn thing starts vibrating his eyes glass over, he stops fussing, and the drool starts coming even more profusely than it already does. This inevitably results in the following chain reaction: toy stops vibrating, toy falls from mouth, boy starts trying to put back in mouth, boy puts hard plastic part of toy in mouth (not soft vibrating part), boy starts crying because he cant figure out why the part of the toy in his mouth is neither soft nor vibrating when he bites on it, tired father puts (and holds) the soft part of the toy back into boys mouth, wash, rinse repeat. The boys father is a bit more of a pushover that his mother, who instead of feeding his "habit" will find creative ways to entertain him that doesn't require the use of the aforementioned toy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Joys of Travel

There was a time in my life when my wife and I could easily leave our abode in order to arrive on time (or close to on time) at our destination. I used shake my head at those parents who would arrive 5, 10, 15 minutes late with crying children in tow and a slightly crazed look in their eyes. I remember those days...those were good days.

Departing the house is now an ordeal. I have to, in my mind, plan an extra hour and a half for all scheduled departures and schedule about 3 weeks of prep-time if it involves an overnight stay. We are going to Chicago in mid February for 8 days....I started slowly packing bags about two weeks ago.

The one benefit about travel, more specifically air travel, is that I am now a "parent with small children." You know, the ones who get to board the plane before everyone...that's right all you suckers standing up 15 minutes before it's your turn to get on the flight, that's me with the small child getting on first....boooooyah! This, in my opinion, has got to be one of the biggest perks about having a child. Of course, this perk is immediately offset by the fact that your flight promises to be 10x more stressful than it ever used to be pre-child and because not only are you making everyone in line bitter because you get to board the flight first, but you are eliminating the possibility of a pleasant/quiet flight. So you can bet I am going to live up every second of my pre-boarding glory...

I think the real reason airlines allow "parents with small children" on first is to let everyone know who is to blame for the upcoming unpleasant flight. It's like they are saying "we try to make our flights pleasant for all of our passengers, we really do....but every once in a while some young parents think it is a good idea to travel with their new when you are trying to sleep but cannot because of the screaming child three rows behind you, we are not to blame. Take a good look at these people, it is their fault not ours." I am already seriously considering getting a second job so I can pick up the drink tab for all passengers in the rows immediately in front, behind, and to the side of where we are sitting.