Guess what. It is a Baby

Hey everyone.

We had a surprise early delivery on Sunday morning and our new son [insert properly Irish first name] [insert properly biblical middle name] Hite was born about 3 am Sunday morning. Mom and baby are doing well, though both will be in the hospital for a few days because of the “surprise” delivery. We hope to be home and back to what passes for normal in our house soon.

I just wanted to share the news and for the few of you who have not seen this picture already, here he is.

Boy11 Sleeping

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A Scene Only A Father Could Love

I am a dad. Yeah you might know that already, but what you might not know is how integrated I am into dad mode. I am a dad, pretty much all the time. Let me give you an example.

Yesterday, while we were out for dinner for my daughters birthday, and while we were waiting for dinner to arrive, I saw the end of a golf tournament. After the guy won, his wife came over and handed him his young son.

Of course the first thing I thought of the Bill Cosby routine, Jeffrey. “She handed Jeffery to his father and punched him dead in the face.”

But after that I enjoyed the scene of him walking along holding his son and giving the crowds a high five. About half way through, he switched hands, moving the kid to the other hand.

Now I understand that this might truly be because he had just had a “hard day of golf” (that is a subject for a whole other post) But the first thought in my head had nothing to do with his being tired, and it was something that just about every father had encountered. Ugh! Kid you need a new diaper, and the nearest diaper is likely back in the car.

Like I said, I am a dad. What can I say.

Defining Moments

Recently I was invited to attend a military retirement ceremony. As normally happens there was a lot of pomp and the ceremony. What impressed me more than the ceremony was the retiree’s speech. He had been a fighter jet pilot, and he talked about the flights that meant the most to him, the ones that defined his career. I won’t bore you with all the details, but he talked about super high flights, super low ones as well as some others that were in between. The last one he focused on was one of his first solo flights, and how at that moment even being so young, that moment changed his life forever, and some times how he wished he could have that moment back. Not so he could change it but so that he could relive it and savor the moment more.

The point of his talk was about valuing those moments. Stepping out of that moment (looking back) and looking at the time around those moments and realizing what they meant to you, to your family, and to the world around you. How they shaped your life, how they changed you.

I started to think about maybe the top 5 (because he picked 5) times, the top 5 moments in my career to date that have shaped who I am. First, I realized that my career is boring. So I expanded on the idea to include the rest of my life.

I thought it might be a fun experiment to try to write those ideas down, talk about what they meant to me and then share them with the world. Then I thought it might be interesting to invite some other people to do the same thing.

Defining Moments

When I set out to write this post, I had some pretty specific ideas about what I wanted to write, but when I actually sat down to write, I found that they didn’t really meet with what I think I wanted to this series to be about. I mean I could talk about the day I got married, or the day I first become a father. Without a doubt, those were huge moments in my life. They shaped who I am. Both of those have completely changed who I am. Becoming a father, taught me that I love being a father, and getting married has taught me and will continue to teach me what it means to really love, and thank you for that my dear.

While these events were important, there are a few events that have changed me in other ways. The first of those was the day I got off the plane from JFK airport and walked into Frankfurt International Airport. What followed was almost 7 years of cultural shock. I spent from just before my ninth birthday until after my 16th birthday living in Germany. We traveled every chance we got. I learned to ski, I speak some German to this day, and I have respect for the culture of Europe that I don’t think I would have gotten had a not lived there.

The next event that defined who I am was only about 6 weeks later. When we moved to Germany there was no housing available right away. And we were stuck in a hotel. We didn’t speak the language, we didn’t really know our way around, and even though we had a great sponsor who showed us around, it was pretty easy to get depressed pretty fast. That was what was happening to my mother who was stuck in the hotel all day while my father went to work and my brother and I went to school. It was spilling over, so one day my father said pack some bags we are going on a trip. While there was some moaning and groaning, we all piled in our newly acquired car and headed south to Garmish. We spent the weekend in the General Paton hotel. My brother and I got our first experience of ordering fish by picking it out of the tank.
Understand that it rained and sleeted all the way down, as it had almost every day since we had arrived in Germany. We had seen nothing except the same grey skies that we had seen in Frankfurt. And even though we had a nice room and a good meal, I think even my father was beginning to question driving the 6 hours to just spend time in an even more cramped hotel room. That first night about midnight, my dad got up to get a drink of water on his way back to bed he took a moment to peek out the curtains. The next thing we knew the curtains were opened wide and all of us were awake. “You have got to see this,” he said.
The sky had cleared up, the moon was out and right out our window were the Alps bright as daylight in the moon light. It was that moment that I think turned our minds around, and we all decided that we wanted to be there. The beauty of what we were seeing was to this day indescribable. It also started my life long fascination with living in and around the mountains. So to my poor wife who probably had no idea why was so excited that whole drive out to Colorado just before we got married on seeing the mountains for the first time, it is my dad’s fault.

I met my wife the year before we left Germany, and I have always maintained that I knew she was the the one for me the day I first noticed her walking into our classroom. The fact that I didn’t notice her until the ned of the day and that she was in most of the rest of my classes that day, well we will just gloss over that part. While I still maintain that is the case, I was young and stubborn (read stupid.) It was not until I was sitting on a mountainside in France, that I realized it was not the girl I was dating that I missed, and that I was my wife-to-be that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

The birth of each of our kids has been something special. Our first son was taken away from us and put in the NICU only 24 hours after he was born, my wife had an emergency C-section and we were 200 miles from home with no money and no way of getting back. I remember holding him and thinking what the heck have we gotten ourselves into. And each kid after that had their own surprises. Our first daughter, and 5th child was born while I was away at school, I remember getting the call about 5:30 am that my wife was going to the hospital, and then failing the quiz that day, and the rushed trip home that weekend. The three children that we planned to have at home and because of one complication or another ended up in the hospital anyway, and then our current youngest being born at home when I ran out of the room to get a towel and the look on my wife’s face when I came back and she was holding that precious little one. My children have change my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

Each one of these moments has changed my life. They have defined who I am in ways that even before I started writing this I didn’t realize.

Later this week Scott Roche will take a stab at telling us about his defining moments.

Want to join in the fun? please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff

Image from Car and Driver

What we have Learned Today

Whenever I have an experience like I did this morning, The Vegitales song pops in my head.Veggie-Tales-Bob-And-Larry-300x225[1]

What we have learned, applies to our life today, God has a lot to say, in his book!

Not that what happened this morning has anything to do with the bible or vegitales or anything like that, but I did learn something. Well I learned several somethings, but let’s start at the beginning shall we.

This morning I got up as normal to go running. I had forgotten to charge my iPod over night and while I don’t need it to go running, I ran for nearly 20 years without it, I find that I like having it with me now.IMG_0095[1] So I decided that I would plug it in for ten minutes to charge it enough for a 30 minute run. First, the cord in my bag would not work, so I went to the car and got the one that I knew would work. Please note that I went to the car, that will be important later.

It took a little longer than the ten minutes I had hoped for me to get the thing charged but in the end I left the house at just before 6 A.M. Now to interrupt here for a moment. I really do like running, but I am not a morning person. I don’t like getting up at 5:15 or 5:30 to go running, and it is a struggle everyday to do so, but it really is about the only time I can consistently get time to run. Also the first mile of every run is horrible. IMG_0096[1] Unless you have done a proper warm up, (and at 5 in the morning who is doing that?) you get what I call the first mile jitters. For me this consists of a lot of “why am I doing this?” and “I should just go home and rest” and “ow this kind of hurts,” and “wow this run is going to suck,” and of course “Ok, I can do this.” I mention this because sitting on the couch waiting for the iPod the charge I just kept telling myself, you know you could just skip the run, make a pot of coffee and relax this morning. But I didn’t. In the end, I had a pretty good run. Not my best but since I was running late anyway, I decided it was best just to get the best run I could and just be happy with it.

So there I was, back home cooling down, making breakfast for the kids, reading with my daughter. I managed to get a shower without waking my wife, and only a couple of the kids had gotten up before 7 so I was happy. Then it was time to head to work. First, I have noticed that I have been getting more and more scatter brained lately, and it took me a couple of minutes to get my stuff collected. Then came the fun part.

Has anyone seen my keys?

Picture 41After about ten minutes my eldest daughter found them. Still in the car, still in the ignition. While I was happy that she found them I was not happy with myself for having left them there. I grabbed the rest of my stuff and headed to the car. But something was wrong. The keys were still in the ignition, but there was no sound when the door was open. Dead Battery! BOO!

This is were it gets really interesting. Our tractor often needs to be jump started so we keep the jumper cables handy. However, the other day I was talking to the kids and said, “You know they really should be in one of the cars in case the battery dies while we are out.” Well, my son thought that was I great idea and since I have the older car, he put them in my trunk. He is a great kid, always thinking. Really! The problem is while I do have the older car it has some of those older car type problems. For example when I bought the car it came with none of the original keys including the one that would open the trunk. There is a button inside the car and one on the key fob so that is not really a problem most of the time. But these both rely on power to release the trunk latch.

Here is where we get to the what I have learned today. I learned that when batter is totally dead you can’t pop the trunk. When the jumper cables are in the trunk you can’t get to them to jump the car or even get enough power to open the trunk. I also learned, and I hesitate to even mention this because I know how Image from Car and Driverdangerous it was (and yes I sent the kids inside while I did it) that you can use a spare piece of house wiring to hook up like a small set of jumper cables to give you enough power to pop the trunk so you can get the real cables and get the car started.

From one dead battery to another it was an interesting morning. I did eventually get the car started, and got to work only a little late. But, yeah the whole morning I have had that song going through my head.

Why I don’t want to Potty Train my daughter

100_2961One of the things I look forward to least of all about kids is potty training. Diapers are messy, they tend to smell bad, and getting kids out of diapers is always a relief, but that period in the middle where you are teaching them to use the bathroom verses just going in their diaper is just the worst.

Having had a pretty good smattering of both boys and girls to potty train, I can tell you that without a hesitation our girls have been easier to potty train. I know there are some psychological and physiological reasons for this but I am just glad that they train easier.

This being said, I am not looking forward to potty training our littlest one. She is already showing signs that she is ready. She will take her diaper off then she is wet (and run around naked.) She has even been seen climbing up on the toilet. On top of that, my wife and I have been “changing butts” as we call it, for 15 years straight. We have never had a time in our married life (since our son was born just about ten months after we were married) that we were not changing diapers. 2012-02-19 02.38.18 We also are cloth diaper people so, on top of changing them, we also have to rise, wash, dry, fold and put them away. With more than one kid in diapers most of the time, that means washing diapers almost every other day. And I will state it again just for good measure, For the last 15 years.

So why would I be reluctant to get my youngest one out of diapers? You would think that I would be jumping for joy at the idea. Especially since, as I said she seems to be ready and she very well could be very easy to train. But I’m not. The reason is more than a little silly, but some times those are the most powerful reasons of all.

I have said it before and I will say it again. I am a sentimental sap. Potty training our little girl means that we don’t have a baby any more. The transition from wearing diapers to not, is a serious mile stone in marking a child’s journey from infant to child to eventually adult. Just like we have been changing diapers for the last 15 years, we have always had a baby for the last 15 years.

Plot BunniesThere are negatives to having a baby around. Yes, I will admit that having a baby is not all sunshine and roses. There are sleepless nights, there are messes to clean up, there are nights spent on the bathroom floor, with a sick kid who can’t breath quite right and can’t tell you what is wrong. Having said all of that, I love having babies around. They are not a cramp in my lifestyle, they are my life style, and I will really miss it when it is finally gone.

Christmas Cookies Interrupted

Photo 2013-01-04 09.32.59Making Christmas cookies is obviously one of those things you get to do only once a year. I guess if you make more than one batch you can say you get to do it more than that, but that’s kind of splitting hairs.

A few points I should make here before going on.

  • I really enjoy making Christmas Cookies.
  • There are several kinds of Christmas cookies that I really like Including these sugar cookies that I only get around this time of year.
  • Heck I just like cookies in general and any excuse to have a few extras around the house is always a good idea to me.

This year we have had a lot going on family wise, but my wife and I have been trying very hard to keep some normalcy if for no other reason than because we would like to feel normal again, though it is as much for the kids as it is for us. So the Christmas Cookie Decorating party was declared.

This is mostly a chance for the kids just to have friends over, and have a little fun, and really do you need yet another excuse to make a bunch of cookies?

As my wife is still not quite back to 100% physically and has trouble being on her feet for long periods of time, I was in charge of making the cookies for said party even though I will not get to be here for the party itself.

I started out making a huge batch of Sugar Cookie dough. (well it felt huge to me.) Then Wednesday night I was going to roll cut and bake about half of them and finish up the rest in the morning. Believe it or not this was pretty close to what happened but, this is when the, “Interrupted” happened.

I had just gotten the first batch of cookies in the oven when the cry of, “He’s bleeding” went up. Now, understand I live in a house with 6 boys and 3 girls (not counting my wife and I.) There are many injuries. Even the girls are pretty tough about it most of the time. Occasionally you do get tears at everything from stubbed toes to good sized cuts but for the most part the kids don’t panic about things. Which is really good considering the alternative. But blood is one of those things that usually gets attention pretty quick.

The older kids who were home trooped the five year old (Child # 7) into the kitchen while saying he was bleeding. Honestly, they weren’t making a huge deal of it so I was not really worried and so continued what I was doing. When I looked up the poor kids face was a mess, and there was a rather large cut just below his hair line and a fair mount of blood streaming down his face. If you are not a parent, you might not be aware of this, but head wounds bleed like crazy. There is not a lot you can do about it, other than get the person calmed down. (Calming them down is the key here.) It is a lot of blood, but most of the time even with that much blood it is not all that serious.

In this case, the wound was pretty deep but not too serious, and I was able to get the bleeding stopped and put a bandage on it. As soon as my wife got home from picking the kids up from scouts it was determined that we needed to go to the ER and get him checked out.

I will make this story short, well as short as I can. Five hours later, (at 3 am) my very brave 5 year old and I headed back home with the gift of six new stitches from the hospital. He was very brave, did a great job, and I got some great quotes from him, like,

“I don’t really want to look like Frankenstein,”

and

“Dad, I think part of my brain is showing.”

Needless to say the cookies did not get made that night. As I said the plan mostly stayed in tact. Despite the short night for me, I got up the next morning with the kids and finished up the cookies. I had the day off so this is not as miraculous as it sounds. (Not miraculous at all really. Something about a parent making cookies that the kids know they are going to get help to motivate them to behave) We ended up with just shy of 11 dozen cookies that the kids will get to decorate today with their friends. I just hope there are a few left over for Dad when I get home.

Home Schooling Dad?

If you don’t already know, we home school our kids. I use we as a very loose term here because honestly up to this point I have not really had a lot to do with it. To borrow a line from Dr. Ray Guarendi, I will occasional pick up a book. I hope that over the years I have done more than that, but I will admit that I have not been very good about it.

I know that I would say, yeah I can do that, and do it for a while and either get busy or forget about it, and the rest of it would fall back in my wife’s lap. Or worse, I would come up with a new plan to make it work better, get it started and then leave the administration overhead in her lap. Not very helpful.

As of now, I am going to make a concerted effort, to take a much larger roll in homeschooling our kids. That means more on planning and scheduling, and grading and actually teaching. I plan to post some kind of regular homeschooling updates in an effort to keep myself on track and accountable.

I am still at the excited stage here. I know that this is going to be work but I am looking forward to it. I have some ideas about how I can help, and my wife has given me a list of things that she wants me to try to do. I am ready to tackle that list. The list does look pretty straight forward so I think it can be done.

I am also hoping that I will be able to incorporated some technology into the daily routine (being that I am a technology guy) and will be scouring the internet for tools and tricks. I also hope to write some reviews of the technology I have found.

So that is it. I am looking to you folks to keep me honest. If you are a homeschooling dad and you want to share your experiences, or tools that you have found useful please feel free to share them.

I am Dad, and I do not baby sit

Just a quick update. Tonight my lovely wife is taking the evening to spend some time with other moms in our area in the monthly Mom’s night out. They get together and discuss issues of homeschooling, motherhood, and a whole range of other topics.

This means that I am home with the kids. But I am not the baby sitter. Honestly, this is one of my favorite things to do, spend time with my kids at home. As much as I like getting out and doing things, I am away from home a fair amount and I like being home. And getting a chance to just be dad with the kids is a ball.

I am not trying to brag here, just letting you know that as a dad I don’t slack off. My wife left the house within 20 minutes of me getting home. She had not made dinner although we do have a weekly meal plan, since she had been out of the house most of the day and ended up with one sick kid she had done nothing to prepare for it. (I knew what was on the list and didn’t expect her to either.) So I made dinner while playing with the kids and supervising pre dinner clean up. By making dinner I mean I looked at the meal plan and made hearty Italian soup (from scratch) and rolls to go with it. Ok I cheated a little and used a can of rolls, but still.

After dinner we prayed a decade of the rosary, something we have been failing to do most of this week, I assigned after dinner chores, I put the grumpy 2 year old and the sick child to bed. I loaded the dish washer (because I had only managed to match my two older boys in our pushup competition so that meant I had to help (more on that later)) started a load of diapers, read to all the kids who wanted stories and then only ten minutes late sent them all off to bed. Normally when it is just dad they get to stay up a little bit later, but they had had a big day today so they all needed their sleep.

After I got all the older kids to bed, I gave the baby a snack. (she didn’t eat much dinner.) started the diapers on their second cycle, and then settled down to get the baby to sleep for the evening. She is still nursing so this normally involves mommy milk, so with dad it requires a little bit of convincing that she can sleep without mom. But She likes me so she feel asleep and now is in her crib.

It has been a great evening. I really love spending time with my kids. For the most part they are all happy kids. Yes, even the teenager and the almost teenager are happy most of the time. They are pretty good, and again for the most part play well together. The biggest fight this evening was over who got to hold the baby while dad dished up the hot soup. All and all a successful evening. The house is not in a shambles, the rugs have been cleaned (after dinner chores.) The kitchen is mostly clean, and the kids are all happy and in bed. (No promises that the older ones are asleep yet, but they are at least being quiet.)

These are the times when the kids get to see what a father is supposed to be like. Yes, I played with them, maybe a little rougher than I would have had my wife been home, but I also made dinner, and helped with clean up. I worked on the laundry and I read stories. A father is not a baby sitter, he is the head of the household and that mean that he needs to be able to hold the house together without pre-planed / pre-preped meals, or runs to the local fast food joint. I am not saying these things don’t have their place. Sometimes a night alone with dad can be special and you can do something like that, but it is not a necessity. Being a dad isn’t always fun, but my nights alone with the kids are some of the best times I have with them, and I hope they are the times that the kids look back to and remember when they are out on their own with their kids.

** On the push up thing. Every spring / summer we all try to get in shape. This year the older kids are taking Karate, and have started doing push ups. Something I do pretty well when I am in shape. The deal to this point has been; the older two get one minute each to do push ups. They add their total together if Dad can do more push ups than that, they each get an extra chore. Something I would normally do, if they beat me I do the after dinner clean up, and if we tie I do part of the clean up, tonight we tied at 62 pushups. There was an extra wrinkle in tonights competition. The younger ones wanted to be involved. Let’s be honest here, there are 9 kids, 5 or so of them can manage to do pushups, if they all got the add them up, I would be doing dinner clean up every night. So tonight we said that the child who did the most in 1 minute didn’t have to do chores. My eldest daughter (the youngest of the 5 that did it) won with 47 pushups in one minute. The boys were not happy with her, but she did beat them fair and square and they were real pushups. Way to go Lizardbreath!