Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good Bye

Little did I know that when the ultrasound lady revealed we were having twins, the changes were only beginning. The reality of having multiples changes every perception you ever had about your life. This revelation brings about uncertainty. And of course uncertainty breeds fear. The uncertainty over finances; properly sized cars, houses, and strollers; and of course the uncertainty of how to care for two babies at once are always present. And that means fear is never far away.

Thankfully, at about the same time we learned of Arica's double load, we began meeting weekly with a group of other young couples at our church. We didn't know any of these people at our first meeting. It was just that, a first meeting for all of us. But over these past several months our new friends have helped us grow in tremendous ways. Because of the love we all share for God and for each other Arica and I were able to achieve a certain peace in our lives that can only come from the Man Upstairs.

So as we journeyed hand in hand towards the great unknown we put our faith in God to deliver us. Of course we didn't just say, "OK God. Wave your magic wand and hook us up." We tried to remain faithful. We did what we could.

I sold my boat. Arica prepared to sell her car. We were making adjustments to our life in order to welcome our new little blessings. Then the big change that I didn't really expect came along. It is a huge blessing, and I have been thanking God every day since receiving the news.

I got a new job. This job comes with a nearly 30% pay increase and multitudes of benefits that never existed for me before. This new opportunity allows me to better provide for our growing family, while at the same time planning for our future. Needless to say it didn't take me long to accept the offer.

So after ten years I am changing jobs. The fact that this is happening just a few months before our twins arrive is not lost on me. Some might say the timing is bad because I won't be around as much to help with all the new responsibilities that come with having two babies at once. Arica and I don't feel that way. We know it will be hard, but this opportunity is certainly a blessing. And because of this blessing April 18 will be the first day of what is hopefully a wonderful new career for me.

But with great gain often comes great sacrifice. The first sacrifice for me is going to be this blog. I have written 99% of the material found here while at work. With my new, much heavier, workload that is no longer going to be possible.

What about writing at home? There is a problem with that too. My new employer is located an hour away. Until we can sell our house and move I will be spending two hours in a car every day. Our house has already been on the market for ten months so the daily commute could last a while.  Because of the commute and my increased responsibilities, I will be sacrificing time at home. Every bit of free time that I have will be given to Arica and our THREE KIDS.

I just can't manage all the changes and new opportunities in my life and this blog at the same time. So it is with a great deal of sadness that I announce this will be my last post.

I treasure every single friendship I've made through this venture. Those of you who stop by regularly have truly made a huge difference in my life. Your friendship and continued support means a lot to me. Those of you that read and only comment once in a while, or even never, are also much appreciated. I never knew so many people that I've never met could impact me in such a way. So from the bottom of my heart, Thank you.

There is always the chance that I will return. I will definitely feel guilty that there are two books on our bookshelf about Braden, and the twins might not have any. I'll surely have plenty of great tales to tell. The question is how will I tell them? How will I remember them?

If I choose to once again document things here at Life of a New Dad, you'll be the first to know. Until that happens, and in case it never does, you can keep up with me on Facebook. And maybe even Twitter. I hope to see you all there.

Thanks so much. And God bless you all.

Why Pre-school Toys Are Essential Learning Tools

It’s widely accepted that the education that children are exposed to during their formative years is a huge factor in their overall development. It’s not just the formal education that they receive at school that plays its part, though; time spent at nursery or indeed at home playing with educational toys can also offer a developmental advantage.

Kids’ natural enthusiasm and in-built sense of discovery goes a long way to ensuring that time spent playing with the right type of toys can help to expand their horizons at an early age. Just as reading books together with your child can help to speed up their ability to grasp the intricacies of reading and writing, certain pre-school toys can play an important role in stimulating a child’s natural tendency towards imagination and also help to spur on their creative abilities.

Of course, educational pre-school toys shouldn’t be used in an attempt to force your young child to learn something new every day. Instead, slowly introduce them into the playtime routine to allow your child’s natural curiosity drive the learning process. Research shows that the earlier and more often that children test themselves with suitable toys and games, the easier they find it to learn – and this early development is something that will stand them in great stead going forward as they enter the school system.

One such example would be Duplo bricks, a branch of Lego aimed firmly at pre-schoolers. The use of Duplo is a great way to introduce children to the idea of being conjured up unique structures in their mind’s eye and then following through and building them with their own hands.

Alternatively, baby or toddler friendly jigsaws encourage users to work through what can start out as a frustrating challenge by using their own logic. Repeated use encourages the development of memory skills, pattern spotting and matching ability.

Perhaps the most important factor is that as well as being educational, pre-school toys should be fun to play with. It’s all very well giving your child a learning tool, but if it’s a dry experience for the child then they’ll quickly find something else that they’d rather play with.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sharing with Fetuses

It's been a strange and busy week for me. Add to that my latest case of the blogging blues and you get nothing. That is what has been going on around here. Nothing.

I'm poking my head back in today just to share a short story. Arica shared it with me and now I'm sharing it with you.

Lately Braden has been talking to the babies. He goes up to Arica's tummy and says "Hi babies." He will tell anyone that asks he is having "baby sissers" or "two babies" depending on his mood. Yesterday as he was eating some gold fish (the crackers not the pets) he took his relationship with the babies to a whole new level.

Braden lifted up Arica's shirt. Then he stuck a gold fish in her belly button and said "here babies".

That's a good sign. Sharing with his little sisters already.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Cousin, My Friend

I wrote a post some time ago called Cousins by Blood, Friends by Choice. It was somewhat of a stretch at that time to call Braden and his cousin friends. I admit now that I only broached the topic in order to post a video of them that I liked. Jackson, Braden's cousin, for the longest time didn't care for Braden. It's not hard to understand why. He was the only grandchild on Arica's side of the family for two years. He got all his Grandma's attention, and like any kid, he was not too excited about the idea of sharing her.

Fast forward to today and the two boys are actually pretty good friends. Sometimes they fight, but that's normal. I have seen Braden drag Jackson across the floor by his neck so I know there is still some reason for caution, but the relationship has become much more amicable nonetheless.

This newly successful union brings about a new question. With our twins on the way, how will Braden respond? How will he like sharing his Mom and Dad with these new babies? And two at once no less.

Jackson's family is expecting another baby too. They are having a little boy, and the due date in only two weeks ahead of Arica's. So Jackson will have to learn to share his Mom and Dad as well.

And both of them will have to learn to share Grandma and Grandpa with THREE MORE KIDS!

That's another topic for another time. For now let's put all that aside and just appreciate the budding friendship that these two cousins are enjoying. Last month they spent a couple Saturday's together after Jackson's soccer games. Braden LOVES Jackson and would spend every day with him if he could. But Jackson initiated these gatherings, which is proof that he might just love Braden too.

So here's to the two little guys that have helped each other learn how to share loved ones, a skill they are both going to desperately need.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Being a Better Husband

I wrote my Twin Girls Top 10 about things I needed to do about two weeks ago. It was all in good fun until I got down to number ten. The last item was to be a better husband so my girls will have a good example of how they deserve to be treated. This line of thinking has been stuck in my head for quite a while now. The fact that their idea of what a man should be will come almost entirely from me is beyond scary.

I don't know why setting an example seems to be more critical now with girls than it did with Braden. He is also getting his example from me. I guess it comes from that innate fatherly instinct to protect your little girls. They're not even here yet and I'm already wrapped around their little fingers.

For much of my life I thought I would be the typical Dad as portrayed on TV. I thought I would be the 1950 version of Dad. I would work. I would come home. I would sit in my recliner, drink beer, and watch sports. I didn't need to cook, clean, or do anything else.

Thankfully reality eventually set in. Now I don't even have a recliner.

After work I try to help the best I can. I like to cook actually. I don't think anyone likes to clean, but I help a little. I share the duties with Braden as well. Sometimes I may need to be reminded of what those duties are, but once prodded I can help.

Being an example for the girls is much more than all that though. It is not necessarily about dutifully pulling my share of the load. I can't represent my part in the marriage as the ox that carries the heavy load because he has too. Dad can't be the guy that does all these things out of a sense of duty or worse yet just to stay out of trouble.

I have to be loving above all else. I  read a verse from the book of John today where Jesus says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." My attitude and help around the house must be taken in the same light. I am not being commanded. That is not the point. The point is that if I love Arica, I should want to help her as much as possible. I should show my love through my actions.

I should happily mop the floor.

I should joyfully fold the clothes.

I should rejoice in changing a dirty diaper.

Let me be the first to admit that this type attitude is not easy for me. I'm human. I would rather watch a ballgame than do any of that stuff. And that is why I wrote #10 the way I did. I have a lot of room to improve as a husband. There is always room to improve, and I want to strive towards a more perfect love that can be seen easily by my children.

These are just the things I think about when my mind wanders. I think it's a lot more productive than my pre-children day dreaming of fishing and cold beer.