Monthly Archives: July 2010

No more apartment

Our family is officially apartment-free.

Because of the timing of our house purchase, we still were on lease for our apartment for another two months. Well last night we went over to get the last items out and clean up a bit. We locked the door for the final time on our apartment.

It was bittersweet (certainly more sweet than bitter). It was sweet in that we have our own nice, clean home now. Don’t get me wrong, our apartment was fine, but it’s an apartment. Hundreds of people have lived in it before us; a fresh coat of paint is considered ‘maintenance’.

But it’s a little bitter, in that it’s where our family started. After we were married, it was that apartment complex where we lived. When Parker was born, we brought him home to our apartment. It was our first home as a family.

I’m glad Parker won’t remember living in an apartment, but at the same time, I’m glad we have pictures from there, because it’s still significant to us as a family.

But at last, we are free from the bonds of apartment living. Once, and (hopefully) for all.


First Birthday Plans

Are finally coming together.

Yeah, so we procrastinate a little bit. A lot of this, though, is simply because of my wife’s work schedule. She typically only gets one weekend off per month, so it’s difficult for us to plan very far in advance. But it looks like we’ve finally nailed down a date and location for Parker’s first birthday!

Our original plans were to have two separate parties, one in Paulding, and one in Hurricane, for each of our families, but because of said work schedule, we had to narrow it down to one weekend, and as such, have decided to host the party at our house. In a way, it’s nice. It’s Parker’s first birthday, we can decorate as we see fit, and it will be nice to have both of our families in the same place, especially since it may be the first time for some of our family to see our house.

We settled on a Sesame Street theme. Parker loves Sesame Street, so we figured we could get away with a ‘cutesy’ theme for his first birthday. Thankfully, most party suppliers have a great selection of Sesame Street themes that are priced really well, so it looks like we’ll be able to pull it off. It’ll just be a small gathering of family (as if that’s possible with the size of our families, but still).

It’s hard to believe it’s just two weeks away!

From baby to little boy

It’s like it just sort of…happened one day.

He stopped being a baby and starting being a little boy. He’s certainly not an infant any longer. Our little boy is a toddler. Sure, he still needs us, but he just does things differently. First off, he walks everywhere. Crawling is child’s play. It doesn’t matter how far he’s traveling, he’s walking there, and fast.

He loves to climb on things, he likes to sit and read books. He tries to carry on conversations. He drinks all of his milk from a sippy cup now. Bottles are for babies, apparently. No more baby food, he eats what’s on the table. He associates words with objects (specifically, light and Cookie). He can point to your nose when you ask him. He sits in a chair to watch Sesame Street. He tries to entertain us.

Then there’s the boy-dom. He climbs on everything. He is most comfortable in shorts and no shirt. He’s mechanical, he tries to figure out how things work. You try and hide something from him, he will find it. Oh, and he’s found a certain part of his anatomy as of late.

I realize part of it is because we socialize him as a boy, but beyond that, studies have shown that little boys’ and little girls’ brains develop and work differently. He’s definitely a little boy.

I look at him in amazement every day. The power of the human brain. Of the human body. To think back to the very beginning of our lives. Whether it is science, or God, or a combination of the both, no matter how you look at it, it’s a remarkable achievement of nature. To get from that point of conception, or even preconception to the end of the first year; how much growth occurs physical, mentally,and socially.

And to be on this side of the creation makes it even that much more incredible.

The best decision of my life

Three years ago, I made the best decision of my life: I married my best friend.

I actually find it difficult to write a blog about it, just because I find words lacking to describe it. But I did it, I married her, and it truly was the best decision I could ever make.

It’s been an eventful three years, and we’re a lot different than we were three years ago. I had just turned 22 years old, a recent college graduate, three months into my first job. She was still in college. We were really among the first of our peers to get married, some might even say, a little young to be married. Since then, we both have bachelor’s degrees, we both have careers, we own our first home, and have our first child.

When you get married, for the most part, you’re taking a leap into the unknown. When I married her, I didn’t know what the next three years would hold, let alone the thought of 50. But I married a woman who turned out to be a wonderful wife and a fantastic mother. I started this blog because of her. She held my hand through our pregnancy. I didn’t want a child this early, but fortune gave us Parker. I was scared, and she was strong. She has trusted me implicitly to help raise our child. Not to mention she gave our son his good looks (I always say I married up)

Our relationship has changed from one of being spouses to being parents. Our work schedules make it possible for us to spend maximum time with our son, sometimes at the expense of spending time with each other. But it’s something we work with and will continue to grow into.

There’s not a day that goes by when I’m not truly thankful to have her as my wife, and on our anniversary, I’m especially reminded of that. Our wedding was truly a great day, and if you got to spend it with us, I thank you for being there.

Marriage isn’t easy. There are peaks and valleys. But the point is to keep the valleys shallow and short, and to keep the peaks high and long. In any case, we are to use our peaks to get us through the valleys. I see a lot of people my age getting divorces, and it truly saddens me. I can’t speculate into their relationships and what is/was best in their situations, but it is sad. Perhaps it’s the thought that marriage will always be like it was on Day One, or perhaps it was a marriage that was entered into too suddenly, who knows.

I hope we, as a married couple, have modeled to this point an effective marriage to others. Most of the time we spend together is alone, in our own house, and it’s in those moments where we share the most laughs, the most conversations, and the most tears. But everyday, I love my wife a little more than the day before. Marriage becomes familiar, it’s not exactly glamorous, and there are some days that we just go through the motions, just because being married isn’t a task to us. But I hope there is never a day when we don’t love or appreciate each other.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, I love you, and happy anniversary. And thank you for making me the happiness man in the world.

A fun weekend

My wife only had to work four hours this past weekend, so we took advantage of it.

On Saturday we used our membership and took Parker to the Columbus Zoo for the day. He, as always, had a lot of fun. We started ‘backwards’ at the zoo this time, because we always find ourselves so tired by the time we get to the monkeys. So we started with the monkeys. Seeing Parker’s face when he sees an animal is just a memory I will never forget. He loves animals so much and it’s so great he can see them so close. We spent a couple hours there before spending the rest of the 90-degree day inside.

My dad was in the area for continuing education, and so he spent Saturday evening and night with us. Parker had a lot of fun with his grandpa, who bought him his first Cincinnati Reds outfit and an Elmo chair to sit in while he watched Sesame Street.

This was also Parker’s last weekend of baby food. We’ve transitioned completely over to solid food. Right now, our issue is with textures. Parker is not a big fan of the texture of fruits and vegetables, but thankfully, he really likes applesauce, and he actually did pretty good with his carrots last night.

Sunday was a very accomplished day for us. We got up and went to Mass, then came back home and finally finished getting everything put away. Every last box. We cleaned out Zero’s tank and moved it to the shed, then moved around some furniture in the den, cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed, finished our laundry, assembled the upstairs computer desk, cleaned up the guest room and put away the remaining boxes in our bedroom. Finally. Everything is just out of the way.

Last night we spent the evening in the sunroom during the thunderstorm. It was actually really nice. Parker loves to be out there and look out the windows, and Cookie, though concerned, appreciates being able to lounge somewhere new.

But that was our weekend. We celebrate our third wedding anniversary on Wednesday =)

A quarter-century down…

Hopefully a few more to go…

Yep, 25 years old today. I can officially run for the US House of Representatives, rent a car without penalty, and, to car insurance companies, become a ‘safer’ driver.

I’m honestly not that big into birthdays. Just sort of another day these days. I imagine this feeling only worsens with age. I do, though, greatly appreciate all the birthday wishes throughout the day.

To be truthful, I’ve been in a bit of a funk today. No, not birthday-induced depression or anything, just a bit of a funk. I need to take my car in for some more repairs tomorrow, and you know that you can never escape a mechanic for less than a couple hundred bucks. Hopefully by this time next year, I’ll be ready to get a new car. An actual new car, one that’s only been driven by me.

But, I guess I don’t have anything I can regret in my first 25 years. I grew up well-adjusted. I finished college in less than four years, married a wonderful girl, have a beautiful son, have a great job working at the place I love, own my own home, and am financially independent and stable. Sometimes I find myself getting too caught up in ‘what’s next’, which, of course, turns in to worry at times. I worry about paying to fix my car, even though I certainly have the money to do so.

So for the next 25, I want the first goal to be less worrying about the next 25. Instead, I want to concentrate on enjoy the present, or else I might not have a third 25 to enjoy.

The first 25 were greatly spent learning. I hope to continue to learn over these next 25. I certainly want to pursue a master’s degree, perhaps more if time and family considerations allow.

I want to watch my little boy grow up into a man. It’s amazing that at the end of my second 25, he’ll be ready to write about his first 25, and I hope he can write what I’m writing today. I want to strengthen my relationship with my wife, so that at the end of this 25, we can be celebrating 28 years of marriage. I want to progress at my job, taking opportunities as they come, and furthering my professional career. I want to provide stability, both emotional and financial, to my family. My parents growing up, even divorced, provided so much stability in my life. I hope that I can give that to my wife and children.

I want to run for public office. Even if it is something small like city council or the board of education, I want to try my hand at it.

And, I want to the Buckeyes win another national title in football. Preferably before Parker turns 17, like I had to wait.

But most of all, I just want to enjoy now. Have an eye on the future, perhaps even just half an eye, because I want the rest of me in the now. And if you know me, this pretty much comes as a wholesale change to my life. But I need to do it for me.

Age 50, here I come.

Child sexual exploitation must end

In late June, a member of one of Babycenter’s online communities came forward seeking advice on what to do after finding her husband’s stash of child pornography–including graphic pictures of his own 20 month-old daughter–on their home computer.

Thanks to an anonymous tip by another Babycenter member to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, that man is now in jail:

This story is disgusting and vile. The sexual exploitation of children should be of the utmost priority to both law enforcement and citizens. No loyalty, benefit of the doubt, or vows should ever, ever excuse or secret those who produce, view, or solicit child pornography.

As a parent, I am horrified that someone could do this to their own child. I can only hope that this man is punished to the absolute full extent of the law, and even then, it’s not enough. There is no room in our society for pedophilia or child sexual exploitation. I understand that people make mistakes, that punishment doesn’t always fit the crime, that our justice system tends to hand down harsh sentences for small offenses, but there is not a punishment that can be served to this man that can match the crime that he committed.

To the person who reported this, you are a hero. And as one parent to another, I sincerely thank you for saving this child’s life, and the lives of possibly many more.

Child sexual exploitation should always be taken seriously and should never go unreported. If you know or suspect someone might be abusing a child, please report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Cyber Tipline.

Almost one year…

Tomorrow marks one month until Parker’s first birthday.

I’m not exactly sure where the time has gone, as it feels just like yesterday when we were going to the hospital to have him.

About a year ago, we were going on our babymoon, not really knowing what the next month would bring us. As I look back on the year, July 2009 was really the last month before the rest of our lives began. I usually use this blog to about Parker and his development, but outside of him, our family has still undergone a lot of changes.

Since last July, we’ve moved twice. First into a two-bedroom apartment, and now into our first house. My wife got her first post-school job. I made the decision to become Catholic. I lost my grandmother, but I’m gaining a cousin. All in all, it’s been quite the year. Apparently we’re all about getting major life decisions out of the way all at once.

It goes without saying that this past year has been the most life-changing for me, but I’ll say it anyway. To be truthful, I’m ready for a boring year. Just a year to enjoy my family, to enjoy our house, to enjoy…just being. I know it will never be that easy with a toddler running around the house, but hopefully we can hold off on any more major life changing events for a while, at least a year, right?

Is the American Dream that elusive for millennials?

GRAFTON, Mass. — After breakfast, his parents left for their jobs, and Scott Nicholson, alone in the house in this comfortable suburb west of Boston, went to his laptop in the living room. He had placed it on a small table that his mother had used for a vase of flowers until her unemployed son found himself reluctantly stuck at home.

The daily routine seldom varied. Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean’s award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter — four or five a week, week after week.

Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.

This article was post in Tuesday’s New York Times. It follows recent college graduate Scott Nicholson and his ‘pursuit’ of the American Dream, but more specifically, a job straight out of college. As the article begins, we learn that Scott turned down a $40,000 a year job as a claims adjuster to ‘hold out’ for a position on the corporate ladder.

I realize that it’s a tough world out there for millennials entering the workforce. It just so happens that our college graduation dates coincide with the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. But what is the American Dream, anyway? And why is it expected that we have to live that Dream as soon as we enter the workforce?

First, Scott’s outlook into his own future is selfish at best, completely misguided at worst. Is this Scott’s fault? Probably not entirely. Scott’s family is middle/upper-middle class, his boomer parents have successful careers, grossing about $170k per year. They live in a nice, upscale Northeastern town in what I can imagine is a nice house. Scott probably grew up not wanting much and has no college debt (his grandparents paid for his room and board). Perhaps to this particular millennial, the American Dream is something that is inherited.

But it also isn’t fair for millennials to be compared to their Boomer parents. When the Boomers were entering the workforce, the jobs were there, college wasn’t a requirement for many entry-level jobs as they are now, and even then, college debt wasn’t drowning most Boomers who did attend college.

Perhaps the Boomers set the American Dream too high. Or maybe their path was paved just a little smoother. But it is up to the millennials to pursue their own American Dream. Could it be that it’s time to adjust our expectations, or is it time that we go about pursuing it differently?

I don’t think millennials are expected to find their dream job right out of college these. And as unemployment rises, so rises the experience that employers are seeking from potential workers.

Scott could be completely different. Perhaps this plays out very well for him. Maybe turning down that $40k job will reap great benefits for him. But to me, Scott comes off as someone who feels as if the Dream is something that is inherited, and that by the virtue of his work in college, he should feel ready to hold out for something better.

But Scott–and the Times–don’t tell the whole story, that most millennials don’t have that option. When student loans, rent, and car loans need paid, many of us don’t have the option to hold out and wait for a job on the corporate ladder. We take the job as an insurance claims adjuster. We start our American Dream by just getting by. And perhaps that is the inheritance that we’ll pass on to our children.

Recovering from the weekend

Parker’s first Independence Day is in the books.

On Saturday, we left Columbus for NW Ohio to visit our in-laws and spend Independence Day weekend with them. Saturday was spent mostly playing outside and eating. Parker got his swimming trunks on and played for about 2 minutes in the sprinkler with his cousins, until he got scared and ran to one of them for safety. It was so cute to see him walking over to where his other cousins were standing. It was like he was just one of the brood.

On Saturday night, we went to the local fireworks show. We were nervous to see how Parker would react to them, but he absolutely loved them. He sat on our lap, with his blanket and stuffed Elmo, and just watched in amazement. He thought they were so cool.

Sunday was filled with more eating and bonfiring. Parker went swimming in the pond and had a blast. I think that kid is destined to be a swimmer. Then on Sunday night we set off some of our fireworks and ate Smores.

Monday was catch-up-on-sleep day for Parker. He slept pretty much all day. But it looks like he recovered nicely for today.

In other news, my biopsy results came back and I do not have melanoma. The mole was just a mole, just looked different, that’s all. I’m going in for yearly skin exams and then just doing self-exams every month, along with lathering up on the sunscreen. But the news was certainly a relief.

But that’s about all for this weekend. Hope everyone had a safe and happy Independence Day.