Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1 is the Happiest Number

Happy All Hallows Eve Eve all.  And more importantly happy first birthday to our beautiful baby girl Annabelle!!

Annabelle, you have been an amazing baby, bringing so much joy and additional love into our home.  Lukas is over the moon about his little sister, and your whole family loves you to the stars, and back!

Readers, as you can probably tell from the photo above we had her birthday party this past weekend. We celebrated with a couple dozen of her closest friends and family in attendance to lovingly mark the passing of the first year of her life and for Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and I the enormous accomplishment of keeping her safe, healthy, and well loved throughout her 4th, 5th, 6th, and even 7th trimesters.

We celebrated with a hearty brunch, cupcakes and party hats for the kids, and mimosas and party hats for the adults.  It was a silly hat party as you can tell by the photo below.  Of course I would be a joker.

Maybe it has to do with our level of experience as parents, or perhaps the lack of time to stress over every little detail of raising her with another child in the household, but as rough as it has been at times, this year seems to have gone by much faster than it did with Lukas.   As a bonus, and a testament to how long I have been blogging here, you can see his 1st birthday post here.

It is so amazing how much a child grows, develops, learns, and bonds in the first year.  With that we feel so lucky that we were able to adopt Annabelle from birth.  

I would have never thought it a year ago, but it seems so odd now to write, or to even mention that our daughter is adopted.  She is such and integral part of all our lives, and fits so perfectly into our family that if we didn't mention it no one would know.  In fact, just the other day a woman we met in the neighborhood told Mrs. LIAYF and I that Annabelle was a perfect mix of the two of us. "Thank you" was our only response.

We love our weekend mornings together

And thank you too Annabelle.  We love you very very much, and are looking forward to all the laughs, tears, and triumphs the next year has in store for us. ~ Dad, Mom, and Lukas

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dad's 5: What I'm Enjoying Now

It's been several months since I posted one of my monthly 5 lists, which really doesn't constitute a monthly list.  Hence I have renamed it as my 'Dad's 5' list, and like before will post it whenever It occurs to me.

Whatever you want to call it, here are 5 things I am enjoying at the moment.

Drinking: Pyramid Brewing Outburst Imperial IPA.  I was happy to recently find this Imperial IPA in a 6 pack at the local grocery after previously only finding it in larger singles.  It has a pretty high ABV at 8.5% but still retains a refreshing flavor.  Best of all, it's priced competitively with other micro and craft brews on the shelf, making it a beer I have bought on many occasions recently.

Reading:  Mayflower By Nathaniel Philbrick.  I had really enjoyed In the Heart of the Sea a story about the events that inspired Mellville's Moby Dick, also by Philbrick, so was excited to find Mayflower at a local used book store.  Billed as the story of the Pilgrims, this book is really two stories.  The first part is about the Pilgrims initial journey and their struggles in the new world.  However, about half way through the book jumps forward 50 or so years and becomes the story of King Phillips War.  Both parts made for compelling stories, I just wished the transition was handled more deftly.

Watching: Justified Season 4:  Mrs. LIAYF and I are always looking for a compelling series to stream, and Justified fits that bill.  I had previously heard Justified mentioned as a TV series, but dismissed it thinking it had something to do with Justin Timberlake. Amusingly, I couldn't have been further off on that assumption.  Justified follows a quick triggered US Marshall who is reassigned to an office near his home in Eastern Kentucky. Much lawlessness, gun fighting, and mayhem ensue.  Great series, and highly recommended.

Listening to:  Lightning Bolt by Pearl Jam.  Yes, the 10th studio album from the Seattle Rock legends is more of the same.  Some fast songs, some slow songs.  But the reason they evolved from grunge newcomers to the countries greatest living rock band is because that formula is a winning one.  With every listen of Lightning Bolt, I am enjoying it more.

Using/Playing (App):  Dragon Box.  Disclaimer: I am not playing Dragon Box, but Lukas is and he loves it.  It's a game, that's not really a game, but your kids won't realize that.  Dragon box is an app that cleverly disguises the basics of Algebra into a game app.  It's a genius idea, and one that is well worth the lofty $5.99 price tag for an app.  Heck I was never good at algebra in school, so I should probably start playing myself.

Tell me readers, what are you enjoying right now?

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Cause and the Cure

I've been reflecting

It's hard to articulate how much my kids mean to me.

As Annabelle's 1st birthday approaches I have actually taken a few moments to reflect on the past year and the enormous responsibility that has come along with it.  And moments are at a premium these days. It would be an over simplification to say that Mrs. LIAYF and I are 'tired'......although in a sense exactly what we are.

Sure, most new parents are tired, or at least some level of tired.  But for me that generalization only scratches the surface.  Moving beyond tired, I'd say that this past year, as wonderful as it has been, has taken a toll on me personally.  Both physically and emotionally.  More so than I imagined it would. Thankfully I am a strong individual and will be fine, but in addition to being worn out, I am feeling mentally taxed too.

As I recently posted, I turned 46 last month.  But it isn't all about being an older father of an infant. As most readers already know, that is hard enough in it's own right. But combine that with a consistent lack of sleep, both Mrs. LIAYF and I working full time jobs (mine reaching a stress level well above anything in the past) and the lack of a support system to help lessen some of the parenting load, and you can perhaps understand why this has been a year where the weight of responsibility has begun to take it's toll.

The stress from work has only compounded the effects of my lack of proper sleep.  Thankfully, there is light at the end of that tunnel.  It is amazing how stress can wear on the body, especially when you are already sleep deprived.  By lack of support system I am talking someone to jump in during those times when you need someone to give you a much needed break from the responsibility of always being present and at full & heightened attention while you are with your kids.

Speaking of that front, for the past year other than when they are at day care or school, Mrs. LIAYF and I have spent a combined 2 hours away from our children.  Yeah, 2 hours.  I didn't drop any zeros there. Having a nearby friend or relative to spell us for even a short time is not a luxury we have right now.

I don't want to over dramatize this.  Mrs. LIAYF and I are both doing fine, and I know that there are many parents who would love to be in the position we are in.  I'm not whining or complaining.  And I know from experience that as the kids get older certain aspects, like the sleep and need for constant supervision will get easier.

The reason I bring any of this up is because while I was pondering the past year and how it has affected me, It really hit me thinking about the things which always draw me into a better place during the times I am feeling overwhelmed.  That would be my terrific kids.

Coming home, and sitting down to dinner with their smiling faces, humor, love, and enthusiasm is a magical elixir which will cure nearly any ill. Seriously.  It's amazing, all I need is for Lukas to make a silly joke and flash me a genuine smile, or for Annabelle to point her little finger at me and emphatically say "Da Daaaa!", or for either of them let me know "I love you Daddy" in their own unique way, and I feel 100% better.  They are wonderful, compact bundles of happiness.

And they never fail to shift my perspective.

Sure, I wouldn't be so tired out if it weren't for the kids.  But I knew it would be a lot of work when I signed on.  And they always remind me, just by being their amazing selves, why I love being a dad so much.

Like I said, it's hard to articulate how much they mean to me.  I guess I'll just say that as hard a job as being a parent is, there is nothing I would give it up for. Nothing at all.

And I guess that speaks for itself.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monkey Business

Please forgive me readers.  It seems I may have accidentally entered an alternate dimension wherein the passing of a month to you will seem like mere moments to me.  Strange, I know.

Oddly there are quite a large number of other parents of infants who are also milling about in this dimension.

That being said, the video I have posted below of Annabelle learning to walk, and generally being a cutie pie, will have taken place over the course of many years back in your dimension.

Don't even attempt to grasp this concept.  Just enjoy.