Dear Holly: You’re Really Starting to Look, and Act, Like a Little Girl

1 year, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

There are certain weeks that I especially notice how much more you look like a little girl and less of a baby who happens to be a girl.

This has been on of those particular weeks.

Now your blonde hair is beginning to quickly turn brown. It’s also finally getting a bit longer, and when we put a bow in your hair, it reveals your pretty little face.

You’re now less than 2 months away from turning 2 years-old.

Now, you walk.

You’re beginning to talk.

And this past weekend, you even decided to use the potty instead of use your diaper.

One of the reasons I write these letters to you every week is to help prevent living the cliche about kids growing up too fast.

By examining pictures of you each week and documenting my perception of what you life was like that week, it helps me to put into perspective the little things I might otherwise be overlooking.

Clearly, the theme of this week is this: Holly is really starting to look, and act like, a little girl.

I feel especially close to you in that since October, I have been working from home. So you and I spend a lot of time together. I get to see what you’re like during the day time when you used to be at school all day.

You and I have built a special bond. I understand that part of it is that you’re learning to communicate more anyway.

But still, I’m grateful that in the midst of my branch closing where I used to work, I am able to enjoy spending my hours now taking care of you; while getting work done while you’re asleep.

I know that I will always cherish this phase of our lives, where we got to spend more time together than perhaps the average father and daughter would.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Can’t Imagine Having a Daughter I Didn’t Completely Adore

6 months.

Dear Holly: I Can’t Imagine Having a Daughter I Didn’t Completely Adore

Dear Holly,

I love you in a way I’ve never loved anyone before. You have completely added to my quality of life over these first 6 months of your life.

It reminds me of a song called “Everything” by Lifehouse, which is actually a song about God. However, there is a line that I feel completely describes the effect you have on me:

“How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?”

It is beyond my comprehension that throughout the history of the world, including now, there have been and still are fathers who don’t feel the same way about their daughters as the way I feel about you.

I cannot relate to the concept of a father brining a daughter into this world, only to ultimately abandon her, neglect her, or simply not completely adore her.

Before you and your brother were born, it was quite normal for me to consider what the meaning of life was.

However, this is the first time since 2010, when your brother was born, that I’ve thought about “the meaning of life.”

Because since becoming a parent, I haven’t needed to think about that.

God has given me great blessings and great responsibilities: You and your brother.

I don’t take my role as your Daddy lightly. I’m a big deal to you both, whether I want to be or not.

The outcome of your life is largely based on how I express my love to you and your brother.

And while I love your brother just as much as I love you, there is undeniably a specifically different role in being a father to a daughter, as opposed to a son.

I simply must adore you and nurture you and guide you and protect you and lead you.

Anything less would simply be heresy.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I am Your Fitness Instructor and Speech Pathologist

9 weeks.

Dear Holly: I am Your Fitness Instructor and Speech Pathologist

Dear Holly,

One of my exclusive daily responsibilities as your Daddy is to make sure you’re being physically challenged in your exercises. So when I’m home, I do exercise time with you after each feeding.

You curiously love to stand up while I hold your hands. This seems peculiar to me, in that you’re only 2 months old. But yes, you stand on your feet for several minutes at a time before you need a break.

It’s funny because you always stand with your feet perfectly together; never in a regular stance.

Sometimes I pretend we are having a father-daughter dance, jokingly signing “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman. You totally go along with it, not knowing any better.

But while it is a joke, I look forward a lifetime of dancing you with as your father.

After you get tired of that, I turn you over on your stomach, which forces you to attempt to crawl. You have every reason to cry within in a few seconds, yet you never do.

Instead, you are always inspired to keep trying to crawl until I finally flip you back over due to your puddle of drool.

In addition to you having an obsession with maintaining mobility, you also are getting very serious about learning to talk.

During our exercise training, you also will smile at me and starting talking:

“Grrrr-ooowww-ahhh…”

I’ve learned that as I make random sounds back, you try to imitate them.

You’re also fixated on trying to roll all the way over from your back to your stomach.

Rolling over from your back to your side is easy for you at this point. My favorite time was last weekend when you were laying down on your play mat, smiled at me real big, then just threw your whole body into immediately rolling over.

It was as if to say, “Hi Daddy, bye Daddy!”

We have fun together! I am your fitness instructor and speech pathologist.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

1 week.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

Dear Holly,

For years, I was convinced I was perfectly happy having only a little boy. But now that you’ve been in my life for a week, I realize I was wrong. I needed a baby girl in my life.

I love everything about your brother; he’s the perfect little boy. With you here now though, I see that you provide the proper balance to our family.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

With your brother, I get to be rough and crude and adventurous, as I should be with an all American boy. I get to drive through the mud with him and take him to PG-13 rated super hero movies that some say are inappropriate for him. I love that I get to feel sort of rebellious in parenting your brother.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

With you, I get to make sweet cooing sounds directly into your face as I stare at you for no less than an hour at a time as I hold you. I am so in love with you.

I have never got to experience this before. Despite being a parent for 5 and a half years, having you here is completely different. You are such a sweet, adorable, and mesmerizing little girl.

You’re so easy to stare at. I love your amazing little smile. I love your uniquely folded ears. I love your tiny little cry.

Had you born a boy, I would have been just as happy; because I couldn’t have known what I was missing. I already knew how much I loved having a son, so I knew things would have been great.

But instead, you were meant to be Holly Joy. I was meant to have a daughter.

I’m not saying there’s no possibility of you never having a younger brother or sister… but I do know that our family has never felt so complete- like the way it does now that you are here.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

20 weeks.

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

Dear Holly,

It has now been a week since we found out you are our baby girl named Holly. Mommy and I have been so truly happy.

Mommy bought you some dresses and other clothes online already and we have been trying to figure out which baby blanket to buy you as well.

Like I mentioned last week, you really have been over 7 years in the making. We have hoped for you for a long time; it’s only now that the timing would be perfect.

Yesterday as I drove home from work, I was listening to what I believe is one of the best musical recordings of all time, released 20 years ago in 1995; Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

While I was listening to “Wonderwall”, a song that never gets old to me, I thought about you, as certain lines from the song played over the speakers of my Honda Element:

“I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now…

There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don’t know how…

And after all, you’re my wonderwall”

Perhaps to some people, the term “wonderwall” never really made much sense in that now classic Oasis song.

But to me, it always made sense- and it especially makes sense in regards to how I perceive you:

I write to you as if you are a real, living person, here with me right here and right now.

But the thing is, you are.

There’s simply a technically in that you are still in Mommy’s tummy, where you’ll be until around April 21, 2015.

So until then, you are my wonderwall.

You are this mysterious wall I can’t climb or get over to the other side; yet you are right there in front of me.

While I can’t yet look you in the eyes, you are just as real and familiar as if you are already here with me in the outside world.

You are my daughter. Man, that seems weird to say.

But seriously, how can anybody else in this entire world feel the way I do about you now?

Love,

Daddy

For My Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am Today

To My Health Nut Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

This morning as my wife and I were getting ready for work, we were talking about the concept of how parents can influence their kids, even without trying to.

For example, no matter how much you praise your child on their abilities, talents, and looks, they can be just as influenced by the way you, the parent, see yourself.

As Bekah on The Wally Show explained yesterday morning, a mother who picks herself apart in front of the mirror will often, by default, teach her daughter to do the same; no matter how much the mother compliments the daughter.

We learn so much from our parents.

Today is my dad’s 59th birthday. So naturally, having just had this conversation, I’ve been thinking all day about the ways my dad made me who I am; whether he meant to or not.

I easily thought of 5 ways:

1)      Diet:

The first story that comes to mind was back in the late 80s one time when my dad stopped to get gas for his Ford Ranchero.

I asked him if I could get a candy bar inside the gas station. He reluctantly said yes, but went on to explain how unhealthy candy bars were, because of “all that sugar”. He told me how little boys my age needed to be eating healthier foods.

That made me curious. I then asked him when the last time he had eaten he candy bar. He replied, “Years… I probably was a boy. But I shouldn’t have, because those things aren’t healthy.”

Similarly, I can also specifically remember, around the same time, we were watching 20/20 on TV and there was a special about how kids were having heart attacks because of their diets.

My dad warned me if I didn’t start eating healthier foods, I could end up like those kids on TV who had heart attacks.

1To My Health Nut Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

In our house, we never had white bread; only wheat. I felt deprived.

Granted, those elementary school years passed, then my teens, then my college years, and I ate horribly the whole time; whenever it was up to me. I didn’t heed his advice.

But by the time I reached my late 20s, I started seeing my processed food diet catch up with me…

Now, look at me. I am the strictest vegan anyone personally knows. If it weren’t for my dad, though, I wouldn’t currently be the healthy man I am.

(And when I say I’m healthy, that’s based on Dr. Thomas John at Vanderbilt Primary Care in Spring Hill, TN; during my visit with him back in April.)

If it weren’t for my dad, these days I would be a highly medicated guy: I would take something daily for severe allergy and sinus issues; and I would still constantly be suffering eczema, paying for prescription medicine to attempt to alleviate it, but not cure it.

That all went away when I became a vegan 2 and a half years ago; not to mention I’ve effortlessly remained in the perfect weight range for my height and weight since then.

I am confident that my dad’s “you better stop eating candy cars or you’re going to be a kid who has a heart attack” comments greatly influenced me for the good; even if I couldn’t appreciate it at the time.

It was ingrained in me from my dad that it’s important to prevent cancer and disease; not simply focus on the cure.

Here’s a webisode that he and I made with my son; which hints on the fact we don’t trust microwaves:

2)      Being active:

Plus, my dad was always physically active. During my entire childhood, he participated in martial arts; he was a black belt. Back in 1992, he even won 1st place in the sparring competition, for his division in northern Alabama.

(As for me in modern day, I regularly run and go mountain biking; plus I take at least two 10 minute walks outside during my breaks.)

Quite regularly, I when I was a kid, I would go with my dad to his Tuesday night practices and workouts. I knew that he would let me get a cheeseburger at Hardee’s on the way home if I went with him.

Here’s another webisode that my dad and I made with my son; which features my dad in one of his classic karate uniforms:

3)      Letting me make my own decisions

And perhaps that’s another way he influenced me: He let me make my own decisions, even sometimes when he knew there was a better way.

I’m not sure I’ll be as hands off with my own son. I don’t know that I can be as Libertarian with my son as my dad was with me.

But had my dad not been so laissez-faire with me (a policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering), there’s a good chance I would rebelled and acted out as a kid, teenager, and even a young adult.

So twenty years ago, during the reign of grunge, I had the long hair and the baggy jeans; and my dad never once revealed he was concerned about it.

Of course, my dad also taught me, by default, to be calm-assertive.

These qualities are only the tip of the iceberg. In all this, it was not only his words, but more importantly, his actions that inspired me how to live my life.

4)      Faith

Going deeper, I grew up with my dad reading me stories from the Bible for my bedtime stories, teaching my Sunday School classes at our church, and leading the youth group at church.

Therefore, I do my best to lead my own family in the teachings of Christianity; not out of tradition, but as a way of life- serving others, not judging them.

I seriously doubt my blog would be called Family Friendly Daddy Blog if it weren’t for him. He never cussed, so neither do I. Curse words never seemed necessary in order to communicate something worth saying.

For My Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

5)      Politics

And when it comes to politics, I see that I have become my dad as well:

“Vote for the lesser of the two evils; whether that happens to be a Democrat or a Republican.” I remember he told me that a couple elections ago and it’s stuck with me.

A mindset like that requires an individual to use critical thinking beyond what they are taught by either the left wing or the right wing.

After all, they are both wings of the same bird.

Ultimately, he taught me to question the norm. And I do. That is a huge part of who I am.

It’s even one of  the main reasons my wife started dating me, as she has told me before, “You always seem so confident in what you believe, even if it not what most other people believe.”

So really, the way I see it, it’s undeniable that my dad greatly influenced who I am. Today he turns 59 years old. Despite whatever gift card my wife and I mailed him for his birthday, these words today are my gift to him more than anything else.

The Amount You Mature After You Turn 30

babycollage

This week I turned 34 and a half. I’m now just 6 months away from turning 35, which will officially toss me out of that targeted demographic which has traditionally been the coveted marketing demographic: age 18-34.

I’m also only 6 months away from the birth of my 2nd child; who I think is a girl.

Turning a year older is not something I fear or hide. I celebrate getting older. That’s mainly because I’m so grateful for the amount of maturity, emotional intelligence, and life experience I gain each year I’m alive.

I definitely don’t wish I was 30 again, or 27, or 25, or 23… I’m perfectly happy and proud to be 34 and a half.

And research shows the same thing; that the age people report being the happiest is 34.

By now, I’m married, I have kid(s), I’m out of debt, I have money in the bank, I “own” a home, and I’m stable in my career.

Additionally, I have (hopefully) already made my dumbest mistakes and learned my hardest lessons in life.

If I simply apply what I’ve already learned from life so far, I should be alright. In theory, I should be on auto-pilot, from here on out, to some degree.

I feel that while I’ll constantly be learning something new every day, my “life’s biggest learning curve” is complete. In other words, now I know what to do, it’s just a matter of testing that knowledge and experience for the rest of my life to see what else I can make of it.

When I turned 30, I knew I was hitting a major milestone. But in hindsight, I now realize that the reason it was a major milestone for me is because I have learned some of life’s biggest and most crucial lessons since then, during these past 4 and a half years.

The Amount You Mature After You Turn 30

My son was born just a few months before I turned 30. Obviously, raising him has taught me a whole lot about life.

Plus, I made some wrong financial and career decisions around that time as well; which ultimately led my wife and I to become the strict Dave Ramsey followers we now are.

Not to mention, I was hired as Parents.com’s official daddy blogger right after I turned 30, which ultimately meant for 3 years, I had to do a blog post daily; being encouraged to be controversial by my editors.

Therefore, I can see in retrospect that I sporadically said plenty of immature and/or now embarrassing things in my blog posts during that time in attempts to “better engage my audience.” I learned a lot from that experience and I’m completely grateful for those 3 years.

On top of all that, I’ve learned the hard way what not to post on Facebook, since turning 30.

But now, I’ve lived through all that.

And I’ve been married for over 7 years now. It would be an understatement to say that marriage, in addition to raising a child, has made me a more mature, less selfish, better balanced human being.

The first day of the rest of my life began the day I turned 30. I can only imagine how much more enlightened I will feel and be by the time I turn 40.