It’s officially comfy sweater weather! Autumn has always been my favorite season of the year. It’s not because of all the pumpkin spice this and that either. I just wanted to go ahead and set the record straight. I think it’s because the summers here in North Carolina are not the most pleasant. As soon as the air finally gets the little chill in it, something in me just flips over to this warm and cozy feeling inside. It’s comforting. I also suppose it’s because I spent a lot of time outdoors either hiking, biking through the mountains or camping during this season when I was younger. So, I just have really good memories about it all.
As you could tell by the lack of posts recently, we’ve been extremely busy the last part of this summer and so far this fall. Like really crazy busy. I’ve got a lot of posts in the works. As soon as things begin to slow down a little, I’ll be putting more energy into getting those posts up.
As a result of being so busy, I’ve been traveling a ton. I’ve been back and forth to the mountains probably a good 15 times in the last 3 months. We also took an amazing trip up to Acadia National Park in Maine for a week, which I’ll share more about soon. But mostly, I’ve been visiting those mountains I grew up exploring and every time I get on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I always need perfect music to accompany me.
The last few trips, I began adding tracks to a playlist that gave me a good autumn feeling. Songs I plan on listening to as we are carving out our pumpkins, driving back up to the mountains as a family for Thanksgiving or teaching Forrest how to make leave angles in the racked leaves. I love to have the right music to listen to during those times, because it helps me built a soundtrack to all the little moments and big events that happen over time. Later, when I listen to one of those songs, it’ll spark those memories again.
Even though it’s only three months until the big one year mark, nine months feels like a big milestone. I guess it’s because our son has now been out of the womb for as long as he was in it. These last nine months have moved so fast. Our family has changed so much for the better and as a father, I have experienced more in these first nine months into fatherhood than any other nine month, year or probably even two year period of time. With that, I have also learned more in these months than I ever have.
Although my journey into fatherhood has been short thus far, it has undeniably been the most rewarding and challenging time of my life. I have never smiled, laughed, cried, cared or loved so much and that will always outweigh how little I’ve slept, worried so much and worked so hard. And there are things I am grateful I already knew and there are things I really wish I had already known. There have been some hard lessons learned. It’s a whole other world caring for and providing for a little human. But I can tell you one thing; it’s been completely worth it. Most of what I’ve learned so far has made me a better person, husband and has brought more love and joy into my life than I thought possible.
Changing diapers and living on little sleep are the sort of things that are on the easier end of things and just happen. Navigating how to communicate with your wife in a whole new way and figuring out how to actually get work done from home with a baby are the some of the more complex lessons learned. What I do know is that the love and care I have for my family pushed me to figure these things out. There is no doubt that it’s hard, but man I now cannot imagine life any other way.
Before meeting Forrest, the only deep love for a human being I truly knew was the love that I have for my wife. During her pregnancy, I couldn’t imagine how I could love her even more. Then I learned that I could during the whole birthing process. There was this enormous amount of love that just overflowed out of me toward both her and our baby boy. I literally couldn’t imagine my heart having that much more room for the massive amount of love I immediately felt upon finally meeting my son face to face. I knew I’d love this child like crazy. I just had nothing to really compare that sort of love to. It’s a new and different kind of love that is hard to put into words. It’s amazing.
That love has continued to grow each and everyday since. The two of them continue to put me in awe constantly. My wife is amazing. From getting up in the middle of the night to feed him to putting aside everything on her agenda to make room for our sons own little agenda to just being a mother, Jessica really shows me what unconditional love, dedication and commitment look like and that is the root of where this newfound love I have for her comes from. I see that it’s all very hard and tiring and simply draining, but she’s never once complained or said she can’t do it. She’s stronger than ever and she toughs through it like a champ. She has physically, mentally and emotionally overcome so many more hurdles the last nine months. I’m continuously impressed by her everyday.
Another thing I’ve learned is how to slow down at the right times and how to kick myself into gear when it’s needed. These days go by so fast and if I am wanting to take part in as much as I can, I have to learn how to manage my time the best I can. It’s taken some getting used to and there have been plenty of days I left my to-do list pretty much the way it started for the day. As I’ve gotten into the swing of things better, I know when it’s time to slow down and take it all in. To turn off all distractions and focus on my son and wife. A nine month old doesn’t understand the concept of work and his innocence deserves my attention right now. So, now I work smarter and harder when the time comes. So much less of my time is wasted these days and it feels great. Of course, as parents, we also need some downtime for ourselves, so I’ve learned how to plan for that. Usually, this means grinding harder to get work done and using that left over time to be lazy or just do something for myself. It’s a big transition going from being able to be lazy whenever you want to no longer having that sort of freedom if you will. You’ll really appreciate that time you worked hard to have. It may seem small at first, but it really will mean a lot to you.
I’ve always been a tidy person. For as long as I can remember, my room was always clean and organized. During Jessica’s pregnancy, we did a lot of preparing for the extra stuff kids come with and smart solutions for how to store it all. We knew we didn’t want our home to look like a tornado blew through a Buy Buy Baby store. But you know what, some days it still does and I’ve learned to be okay with that. It’s just not worth trying to keep it all cleaned up all the time because you’ll miss out on the little things that are happening and I just want to let our nine month old be a nine month old. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace the mess for a time and let him be curious and explore and then put it all back up after he’s gone down to bed or nap. Either Jess and I pick up as we go after laying him down.
Becoming a father has also made me a tougher person yet at the same time, it’s also made me more sensitive. I am no longer afraid to do what I need to do to make something happen. I’ve shrugged off that fear of what others might think when it comes down to doing what’s needed for my family. They come well ahead of anyone else. I’ve learned to speak up when needed, to stand my ground better and approach situations with more of a confident tone. At the same time, I feel that I have more compassion and sympathize with more.
In no other time in my life has a nine month period of time meant so much, taught me so much and shaped me as much as these last nine have. I am sure I could go on for days about everything I’ve learned. Maybe I’ll share more in three months when Forrest turns one. But for now, I can say with confidence that the number one thing I’ve learned since becoming a father is that to become one is incredible. It’s the best. No better way to put it!
Music is great all year round, but there really is something extra awesome about the sounds of your favorite new jams and the classics coming from the speakers while grilling out, sitting poolside, setting off fireworks or just sitting on the porch with a nice, cold drink. It just feels right and it feels even better when you have the right tunes to accompany you. Now that I have an 8 month old son who responds to music pretty well, I have this deep sense of responsibly to introduce him to good music. Actually good music that is actually good (redundant, I know). I don’t care about the top 40, not that it’s all terrible, but I do like music that has substance, gives all the good feels and that can be enjoyed by anyone that we might have over for a cookout, won’t be offensive to those nearby that I might not know at the pool or beach, etc.
Music can really set the tone for whatever occasion it’s being played at and to me, the tone for summer should be laid back, fun, sunny and have a little scent of tequila and bug spray in the air. So, I’m sharing my Summer Music Playlist/Mixtape (direct link) with you all.
But most importantly, I just know that I want to be able to share the discovery of music with my son so that when he listens to those songs later in life, he can be reminded of our time spent together sitting on the porch listening old records, swinging in the hammock listening to Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” or simply listening to Lord Huron through our AppleTV. These are the songs that I want to remember these moments by. Yes, I know he’s only 8 months old, so maybe it’s more for me right now, but someday, when he is able to recall these moments, it will matter greatly to me, so I am starting him as young as I can so I can assure I don’t miss the first time he begins to really remember these things.
It’s a solid 2.5+ hours of the classics like Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” and “Your Love” by The Outfield that will give you that nostalgia of hanging out at the neighborhood pool as a kid, hitting those push-pops hard. I’ve also thrown in some of my more recent favorite songs that I feel like help completes this summers soundtrack like St. Lucia’s “Dancing on Glass”, Eliot Smith’s “Come Friday” and The Temper Traps new track “Fall Together”. Oh, just so you know, Eliot Smith is Stings daughter and her voice is incredible.
Have a listen! I promise, you’ll enjoy it.
And it’s an obvious statement, but don’t be stupid this 4th of July or anytime any other day of the year or your life. Your family loves you too much to pull a stupid stunt like drinking and driving. Be careful out there, you guys.
This Father’s Day is certainly going to be special. It’s my first Father’s Day as a father and it also happens to fall on my birthday. My birthday has fallen on Father’s Day in the past of course, but this year it’s a much bigger deal now I am a new father. Although, I’m definitely a lot more excited about it being my first Father’s Day than the part about turning another year older.
As Father’s Day is quickly approaching and Jessica, my wife, has been asking what I’d like for Father’s Day/my birthday, I thought I’d share some ideas in case you haven’t figured out what to get the father in your life. And while Father’s Day isn’t about gifts, or at least it shouldn’t be, saying thank you with something nice, thoughtful and practical means a lot. Let’s be honest though, becoming a father has been the greatest gift in itself and no material possession can beat that, although a few of these might come close. I kid, I kid.
Below is the Father’s Day gift guide I curated to help sparks some ideas and find the perfect gift for this Father’s Day that practically any dad would love and appreciate. So, no matter what kind of dad you’re celebrating, you’ll definitely find something here.
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer, or at least I think it does. At least when I was growing up it was the day all the pools opened up, so that was my indication that summer had started. This year, we got a little ambitious and tried to make our summer start at the beginning of May, which in North Carolina, can be hit or miss. This year, we missed the summer part of it. It was pretty chilly and rainy the entire time. To top it off, the rest of the house all got the stomach bug. Somehow Jessica, Forrest and I dodged that one. We still had a ton of fun with our friends when during our early beach trip out on the Outer Banks in Duck, NC, which if you’ve never visited (any of the Outer Banks), you are missing out.
Rental house we shared with friends in Duck, NC
What the ocean looked like the majority of the time. No bueno.
With this trip being our first trip to the beach with Forrest made me think about how much extra stuff we had to think about bringing with us. There was way more than I initially thought. So, in case you’re getting ready to hit the road for your baby’s first beach trip, I’ve compiled a list of things we brought (or wish we had brought) with us on our first beach trip with Forrest and will absolutely be bringing with us next week when we go on Jessica’s family beach trip, also on the NC coast.
We used our BabyBjorn Travel Crib a ton. We debated bringing it because we had a room with two beds and thought that we might just want to put up “pillow bumpers” and let him sleep in the other bed, but in the end, we felt a lot better about having him in his travel crib. Although we didn’t get use a lot of the others during this first trip, we know we’ll being using them a lot next week, if the weather is nice, which is should be. However, we did wear our Tosan Pop + Tot sweatshirts since it was chilly and we’ll be packing them again this time around for those chilly nights, especially if I end up sun burnt. Oh, and PS, got tons of compliments on those, although Forrest is still working on filling into his.
A few things we initially didn’t think we’d need/want to take and were either glad we did bring or will definitely be bringing this time were our Nest Cam, LilyPad and Bumbo Floor Seat. Nest Cam came in handy a lot when we’d put Forrest down for a nap or to sleep and didn’t want to have to keep running up and down like four flights of stairs to check on him. We could just check on him from our phones and setting up the Next Cam away from home was super easy. We’ll definitely be bringing it again next week too. The LilyPad was also a lifesaver. Any play mat is essential, especially if your beach house is all hardwoods. There were plenty of times we wanted to put Forrest down on the floor to play, but didn’t want him doing tummy time on the hardwoods. And the Bumbo seat was also a great idea instead of packing up a whole highchair since we could easily move it around all over the house to have Forres hang out in and also feed in him his solids in.