4 things every new parent should own

I’m still a brand new parent, so I don’t (and never will) claim to be to an expert on the subject.  In fact, as I mentioned recently, I’m currently living in a season of “firsts.”  Learning on the fly.  Asking my friends with three and four kids, “What do I do when this and that happens ?”  Veteran parents, does the “learning on the fly” mentality every really go away?

Speaking of learning on the fly, I recently sat down and put together a list of the top 4 things we use in my house, daily, that we definitely would not have made it this far without.  Here they are:

4.) Bottle Brush: This first one might have you thinking “Duh!” but I’m just being real.  I mean, who knew they made special brushes to wash out bottles with?  The answer: my wife.  Quite honestly, if it wasn’t for her figuring out most of the preparation type stuff before having Ollie,  I’d be doing stuff like cleaning out bottles and tops with the same sponge I clean my coffee mug out with.  So here’s the consensus: Get one of these!  Also, it may or may not have taken two months into fatherhood for me to learn that the bottom screws off and turns into a smaller brush to clean the tops with.

3.) Door Jumper: Now, this isn’t something you’ll need or be able to use right away, but as soon as those little legs beef up and your baby is jumping on your bladder non-stop, you’re going to want to make a trip to Target or Babies R Us to pick one of these up.  Door jumpers hang from essentially every doorway, and babies (at least mine does) love to lounge around and pretend to walk in them.  These are especially helpful for stay-at-home parents since you can safely plop your baby down in one and get a little work done while still keeping a close eye on him or her.  It’s a win, win, WIN!

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2.) Two Changing Tables: Yes, I knew we would need a changing table, but the fact that we ended up with TWO was an unexpected blessing!  We ended up purchasing the essential changing table for Ollie’s nursery first, only to discover that one came with our Pack-n-Play too.  Honestly, it just seemed like an accessory at first, something we’d store away in the basement, but after attaching it to the Pack-in-Play once, I don’t think we’d ever consider taking it off again.  If you’re like us and have a house with an upstairs, this is a MUST.  The convenience of having a changing table a few feet away when you’re up to your knees in poop is priceless. So don’t do like I did and think you can try and get by using the floor or couch just to save money.

1.) High Chair with 4 Wheels:  This last one , I confess, is an amenity, but if it’s in the budget, I highly recommend splurging on it.  I tend to fall into the “let’s get everything used and as cheap as possible” camp, but there was something about getting a lot of the bigger stuff “new” that just helped us feel more prepared heading into parenthood for the first time.  Prices on high chairs vary a lot, but I’m so glad we went with one with 4 wheels.  Honestly, the selling point was that it came with an extra booster seat so that, Lord willing, when baby number two comes around, we’ve already got our dinner table  (in our case, coffee table) places accounted for.  So, it wasn’t an all out splurge!

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In addition to the extra seating, the wheels also double as entertainment for our little guy. If we strap him into it in one room and then wheel him over to where we want to feed him, feeding time can easily become roller-coaster or train time!  This is especially helpful when he’s already on the verge of throwing a hunger fit.  Now, a lot of high chairs come with two wheels and/or are much more compact and easier to store, but I’d definitely say that if it’s in the budget, you won’t regret purchasing one of these!

 

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First Time for Everything…

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It’s been a little over six months now with Ollie, and I’ll be honest, time has passed at just the right speed.  At least that’s my take; however, if you ask my wife you’d get a much different story.  With that said, I’ll admit, I feel like I’m about to experience a season that will be much more difficult to not let surge past me in a whirlwind.

The last couple of months have been full of “firsts.”  Ollie has taken his first bites of real food, sat up in the tub, sat in one of those flimsy restaurant high chairs, and begun to crawl, to name a few.  Well, I guess he’s begun to “inchworm,” since he more or less angles his torso up and down while dragging his legs across our dog-hair-covered rug, but he’s almost there!  The real question is how mobile does he have to be for me to sign him up for youth basketball?!  But, seriously?

Speaking of “firsts” and “time passing quickly,” I had a personal first this week that was both hilarious (not at the time) and, well…. gross.  I’d say it was my first truly embarrassing dad moment.  Kaitlyn and I shoot wedding and portrait photography together, and we had an engagement shoot one evening this week.  We know it’s not for everybody, but we love working together and being able to spend as much time with our little guy as we can.  We are also passionate about getting to know the couples we work with, which is why we still both try and go to every shoot and occasionally bring Ollie along.  So, as the shoot was winding down, our couple had one last spot in mind that was just out of walking distance if we were going to beat the sunset, so Kaitlyn went ahead with them in their car while I got Ollie back in his car seat, packed the stroller, and met them at the other end of the park.

When I got there, Kaitlyn was off with our couple racing against the sunset, so I parked next to their car and debated either waiting it out in the car or venturing outside; I decided on the latter.  Specifically, I decided to venture over to a couple picnic tables just off the walking path with nothing but Ollie in hand.  I thought, “I mean, I’ve already managed pushing him in a stroller while feeding him, holding three bags and a guitar, and taking behind the scenes pictures.  I don’t need to bother bringing a toy, burp cloth, or stroller.  I’ll just sit and let all of the nice walking-by families stare and comment about how cute my baby is.”

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You can guess things probably didn’t turn out as expected.  I made it to the picnic tables successfully, sat down, and enjoyed the 70 degree-orange-sky-sunset-evening for… about one minute.  Then, as two lovely people came jogging by, promptly catching sight of and commenting on the adorableness that is my son (just as I’d expected), in what seemed to be, literally, within a blink of an eye, Ollie thrust himself forward and threw up down what felt like the entire left side of my body.  Yep, all within the two seconds that these two jogging admirers were making direct eye contact with me as they called out, “he’s so cute!”, Ollie decides to detonate!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been spit up on too many times to count.  But this time, I’d  call it full on “throw up.”  And, if that wasn’t enough, now there I was covered in throw up, with nothing but two wide-eyed strangers literally running away and NOTHING to clean up with.  No burp cloth in sight.  No way to evade the awkwardness of having to power walk bow-legged back to the car holding Ollie out and away from my soaking wet chest.  Cue… embarrassment.

I made it back to the car and promptly retold the story to Kaitlyn when she finished up and while I mopped up my clothes, and then I realized: this wasn’t so bad.  Truthfully,  I really should be thankful that this is my first and worst display of public embarrassment since raising an infant.  Also, I’m sure there will be about a thousand more worse (or better) stories to share in the future.  But for now, I won’t be venturing out too far without a couple more things on hand.

Living Presently with a Kid

It’s only been five months now, but I’ve honestly loved the infant stage of being a dad.  Of course, I look forward to the days with no more dirty diapers and the freedom to tell my child to go back to sleep, but there’s something beautiful about this infant stage of innocence that I don’t want to neglect to appreciate.

We work from home, so last week, Kaitlyn and I had a grand plan of finishing up work early and then taking the baby to the pool (and maybe ice cream for us).  In Kaitlyn’s words, “I was looking forward to it all day!”  Well, long story short, we finished up work around 3:30, fed the baby after his nap, then hopped into the car with our eyes on the prize.  But as we pulled into the parking lot and approached the entrance, we began to sense that our plan was too good to be true.  As we walked up, several groups of teenagers and their parents passed us walking to their cars, discussing where they would be meeting up for dinner later.  This sounded all too familiar to the inner-high school-swim team Kaitlyn and could only mean one thing: swim meet, aka, pool closed!

The receptionist broke the news to us gently, and our tears started to roll.  Kidding. But seriously.  Why us!?! Why today!?!  So we packed the car back up with the dozen bags we seemingly always travel with now and headed to Target (because we couldn’t let the whole outing be a wash).   And as we were on our way, it occurred to me:  Ollie, our infant, couldn’t care less about what had just happened.  In fact, he was still just as content as he would have been if we’d just stayed home, and he still cared about all the same things: eating, pooping, and hanging out with mama and papa (that’s what we go by).  He was clueless to what “disappointment” felt like.

Our Target outing still turned out to be the sought-after family time we’d hoped for.  We made a few much needed baby purchases, picked up some office supplies, and of course, grabbed ice cream on the way home.  Altogether, success!  But once we got back home, I began thinking more about our disappointing trip to the pool.  I thought about mine and Kaitlyn’s reactions versus Ollie’s.  We saw disappointment and an entire afternoon ruined while Ollie saw, well, nothing.  And then I realized what a sweet, precious, stage of life this infant stage is.  I don’t mean for a parent but rather as a condition in and of itself.  I realized that, although I know he won’t be in this stage much longer, I want to be more like my little guy.  I need to be more like him.  I want to be unfazed by a sudden change of plans and remain steadfast in the midst of difficulty.  I want to care about spending time with loved ones more than things working out perfectly.  I want to be content when everything else is telling me otherwise.

As a parent, my expectations have certainly changed.  Now, “success” might mean that we ate something other than frozen pizza for dinner last night rather than cooking that new recipe or that we simply made it in and out of Target without having a baby meltdown.  But even in the midst of adjusting my expectations, I’m still so nearsighted.  I’m far too fixated on momentary inconvenience and neglect to enjoy what’s important. Can anyone else relate?

Like I said, it’s only been a short five months, but I want to spend the next five being more present.  I want to embrace living in the “now” and reject the temptation to be upset when the pool closes unexpectedly.  I want to remember who and what is important and live more presently.