Two facets of fatherhood, and some mundane updates with cute baby pictures

I.

In many respects, I don’t feel like my life has changed tremendously since having a son. I had been preparing to have a kid for years and was very ready.

There have been some minor material changes. Less time to play video games. I don’t watch TV nearly as much. I need to be a bit more flexible with my time and willing to drop whatever I’m doing to take care of him. But it’s not a burden because I knew in advance that it was coming.

A lot of new parents go through a period of mourning and grieve their loss of freedom, but I mourned in advance.

Also, April is awesome, and I continue to marvel at how much of a difference having a great partner makes.

I continue to be thankful in all situations. We are blessed beyond measure.

Simon and Matthew — 2019-03-13

II.

There has been one significant change in me that was completely unexpected.

I used to hate “working with my hands.” I didn’t mind physical labor, but I felt like I was terrible at skilled physical labor, and I knew almost nothing about anything that needed to be done. So any work on the house was daunting to me. And because of this, I had almost no tools, which meant I never had the right tool for the job and that made any kind of work even harder.

Everything we did last summer wasn’t terrible but felt a bit like a sacrifice. It was worth doing, but not how I would have liked to spend my time. Now I kind of like this work. It really surprises me.

My father-in-law helped me build some bunk beds, and I am putting down flooring in our attic to make it easier to install ducts and bathroom exhaust vents. When I squeezed through the crawlspace last summer, it felt like a huge ordeal at first. Now, I’m working in the attic and it’s ho-hum no big deal.

Since we bought this house, I’ve been happy to invest in it. I don’t mind spending the money or hiring people to do things because this is our forever-home. We’re going to live here for as long as we can, which means we’ll get to enjoy all of the improvements to the house. But I haven’t wanted to do the work myself, even to the extent of hanging shelves, because I considered myself bad at it.

I’m learning that I’m not bad, that I can learn to be better, and that my family inspires me to invest the effort, not just the money. I’m happy to work on the house myself because it helps me become more familiar with it. And by knowing the house better, I feel like I can serve my family better.

It was a completely unconscious shift for me. But I was reflecting on my lack of dread when I crawled out of the attic for the first time and started thinking about everything that I needed to do. I needed to buy plywood, and a jigsaw, and build a floor, and cut holes in the roof, and install exhaust vent hoods, and and and… and it was all fine. No dread.

What changed? I want to take care of my son as best I can, and I want to prepare our house for more kids. Because someday, I hope that we’ll have a couple more, and they’ll all want to take showers, which causes humidity, which needs to be vented out properly because otherwise we’ll rot the decking and cause mold and that’s not good for anyone.

It’s like a switch flipped. I have a motivation to learn and grow in this area, and I guess that’s all I needed.

III.

Simon is now 6 months old, and a lot has happened since I last wrote about being his dad.

Simon and Matthew on the couch — 2018-12-09

At the same time, it’s all pretty mundane. Simon has a simple routine:

  1. Wake up around 6 a.m.
  2. Eat
  3. Play
  4. Eat
  5. Nap around 8 a.m.
  6. Sleep for 1 hour
  7. Repeat

And he goes to bed sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. Meanwhile, I’m working during the day while April devises educational games to keep Simon engaged and growing both physically and mentally.

At the Goeke Christmas Party — 2018-12-15

We had our first Christmas, which we celebrated quietly at our home with April’s parents and brother Adam. We typically celebrate Christmas whenever April’s other brother, Eric, and his wife Stephanie can visit, which meant this year (2018) we celebrated at Thanksgiving. So actual-Christmas was delightfully low-key.

Simon and Willow — 2019-01-16

Our dog Willow pretty much ignores Simon. This can be problematic when she wants to be on my lap and Simon is already there because she may try to crowd in anyways. She hasn’t actually stepped on or hurt Simon yet, but we’ve had a few close calls, so we keep a close eye on her.

She doesn’t dislike Simon… she just doesn’t seem to notice him.

Simon in his stroller — 2019-02-03

Early on, Simon wasn’t fond of the stroller so we always wore him when we walked. Now he’s liking it a lot, though the weather hasn’t permitted us to walk with it much. We’re looking forward to the warmer months a lot so we can get out and he can see more of the world.

Homecoming from an overnight work trip — 2019-02-12

My first work trip since Simon was born was an overnight to St. Louis. We used Google’s Duo app for a video call the night of the 11th and Simon recognized me through the phone and was all smiles, which was exciting. I was worried that he wouldn’t engage with me on the phone, but he did and it was heart-melting.

In April, I’ll be gone for a week, so we’ll be using Duo a lot

On the bed in the nursery — 2019-02-26

He’s generally happy playing by himself, happier when one of us is playing with him, and even happier when we’re all together

Simon in the alternate car seat — 2019-03-13

We’re finally making some good headway on saving up money and paying off all the recent home repairs, just in time to spend a bunch more money.

Both of our vehicles needed new tires, and the minivan had run-flat tires (supposedly they won’t go flat and you can drive up to 50 MPH for 100 miles or so on them even if they get shredded) that added a lot of cost. I had replaced the run-flats once before, but that was just a couple of years ago and I was shocked that they were already worn down. It turns out that these run-flat tires are 2x the cost while lasting half as many miles, and if you want to use regular tires (which last twice as long and cost half as much…), you have to actually replace the wheels too.

So in addition to new tires for the Civic, we got new wheels and tires for the Odyssey, which cost about as much as the run-flats would have. But now, when we need to replace the van tires in the future, it’ll be a lot cheaper.

While the van was in the shop, we used one of the car seats that Eric and Stephanie bought for storage at our house, and Simon really enjoyed having me sit in the backseat with him. It turns out that, with a rear-facing car seat in the Civic, the passenger seat has to be so far forward that I couldn’t fit into it.

Simon with Ophelia and Viola — 2019-03-15

Unlike Willow, the cats seem somewhat curious about Simon. But they don’t necessarily love him. Ophelia has bit at Simon once (though she didn’t actually get him), and they don’t go out of their way to snuggle with him.

I prefer their avoidance to Willow’s lack of noticing that Simon exists. And sometimes we can get cute pictures like this before they run off

Simon loves antibiotics — 2019-03-16

Simon got his first ear infection in March and he LOVED the medicine. We had to spray a saline solution into his nose several times a day, which he hates and screams and cries about, but then we give him his medicine in the morning or evening and it’s all smiles and delight.

Trying some food — 2019-03-21

Simon is trying food now, and sometimes he likes it! For instance, he hasn’t been fond of applesauce, but he does like applesauce with cinnamon. And he loves banana, but is less fond of avocado on its own. Avocado plus banana plus cinnamon is amazing.

Also, bone broth? He loves bone broth. Sadly, bone broth doesn’t love him as much.

On his side but not rolling or crawling yet — 2019-03-19

Simon is 6 months old today. They have probably been the best 6 months of my life, and I am so blessed to have the family that I do.

The Pressures of Antiquing

April and I celebrated our second anniversary over the weekend and decided that we would spend it here in Springfield doing the touristy things we never do. Since we live here, there’s a lot to the city we take for granted and never experience, so we wanted to spend the day seeing the sights, such as they are, and eating really fancy food. Two of the places we visited were little shops we had walked past on occasion, but which had always been closed when we were near. On Saturday, they were open.

The thing about little shops, the really frustrating and unavoidable thing, is that you’re easily noticed in them. The shopkeeper sees you right away, says hello, offers to help, hovers nearby, suggests you look at and perhaps even purchase things. This is all well and good–their job is to sell things, after all–but let’s be honest here: April and I had no real intention of buying anything. We just can’t afford that much. We especially can’t afford it in shops that are horribly overpriced and stocked with garbage.

But we felt guilty, and we hemmed and hawwed and wondered if we ought to buy something after all. Here was this nice old man, just trying to make his way in the world, with a shop filled with crap and nobody buying anything. Antique shops are like the slightly-less-poor beggar’s tin cup.

We left, because if we bought antiques then we’d soon have to open a shop of our own just to get by in this crazy, filled-with-overpriced-garbage kind of world. But we felt bad about it, and here I am two days later still thinking about it. Man, I have got to lay off the antiquing…

Breaking Radio Silence

Oh, hello there.

Brief recap of what did and did not happen this wonderful, phenomenal Winter Break.

  • We hosted Christmas for April’s family. Eric got into town a few days early, with the rest here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The day after Christmas, we traveled to St. Louis, and then visited Piedmont the day after the day after Christmas.
  • I got some awesome gifts. Now, Christmas isn’t about gifts, and what we really loved was having the chance to spend lots of time with our family. But it cannot be denied that I also played Dragon Age: Origins for about 60 hours this week. It may be the best game I have played in the last 6-8 years.
  • I didn’t write a whole lot. I was stymied on the story I wanted to write, and didn’t feel like I could write anything else until I made progress on it. That was stupid of me. I should have dropped it and done other things, coming back to it once I had something to write, but I got stalled and played Dragon Age instead. For what it’s worth, I finally found the idea I needed to drive the story forward, but it’s a bit late now.
  • I have had the best week of vacation ever.
  • Finally finished our D&D campaign. Not that it has comprised too many game sessions, but between us we have so many scheduling conflicts that we end up only playing about once a month. Since I’d originally intended this campaign to be 15 games, I had to revamp it and cut it short–we’d already been playing it over six months and it was getting old. Really looking forward to the next (much, much shorter) story arc.
  • April and I celebrated our second anniversary, somewhat to our surprise. Not that we’re surprised we lasted two years, because it’s been a pretty blessed and easy two years. It just came up on us fast. Totally awesome. We stayed in Springfield and saw local touristy things, like Bass Pro and fancy restaurants and little shops we never visit. Good times.
  • Snow!
  • Seriously, such a good week.

I don’t even feel [too] bad about not writing. April made the excellent observation that I really oughtn’t put a ton of pressure on myself to get everything done and caught up in the one week I have off a year. I should enjoy the time instead, and work harder to build writing time into my daily schedule instead of forcing a lot of it into this week. I was gratified by this and went right on playing Dragon Age.

I’ve got nothing prepped for this week, so I don’t know what the publishing schedule will be like. Need to get my sea legs back under me, so to speak. For the first time in six months, though, I do not dread going to work tomorrow. I had an amazingly productive end-of-the-semester and got everything done that I wanted to get done. There’s nothing really hanging over my head tomorrow. I have lots of good stuff to report. All-in-all, things are looking up.

Goodnight!

Winter 2009 Newsletter

I’ve been keeping up with blogging and publishing better this fall, even better than I had expected, but maybe you want to see some pictures, or maybe (for some reason we won’t discuss) you don’t check in often. It is for you that I carefully, gently, and with great love craft this newsletter.

If you’d like to receive this newsletter regularly, I’d suggest you drop your email in the bucket to get a copy when it comes out. Of course, they’ll show up here in the regular RSS feed as well, or you can subscribe to an RSS feed designed especially for them.

Download and/or view SilverPen News – Winter 2009.

Quick heading out of town post

We’re always so uncomfortable talking about death. Or rather, we’re not really uncomfortable talking about death, but the accouterments of death. We can discuss death philosophically, talk about it directly, and all that’s fine, but I have no good way to refer to certain things. It seems crass to say that someone died. We have to go to a funeral. We try to find better ways to phrase these things, like “They passed away,” but everyone still knows. We’re not fooling anybody.

April’s brother, Adam, is driving down tonight to spend the night with us, and then we’ll be leaving early tomorrow to go to Cape Giradeau for April’s uncle’s funeral. I, for one, was shocked, and that surprise continues to linger. I know his health wasn’t good, but I… just hadn’t expected him to die. I’m still not sure what to think about it.

We were just talking a couple of months ago about a book he wanted to write. It’s the only time we have spoken, really, but I enjoyed the conversation and looked forward to talking with him again. It’s a paltry connection, but it is startling to realize it is broken now.

Back on Friday, when I will try and power my way through 14 pages of research paper on applying structuralist and poststructuralist theory to the medieval inquisition, which is due on Saturday. Considering I’ve been typing and/or transcribing my research/notes as I went along, and those notes are about 13 pages by themselves, I’m pretty confident I’ve got enough material. I don’t know that the paper’s quality will be great, but oh well. It’s not like I need a good grade.

Long, relaxing weekend

I took a day of vacation today, so after a few morning errands and chores, I have spent most of the afternoon on the sofa reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. April and I have been renting some of the older movies (we have recently watched numbers two and three) and I was in the mood for a better quality of Harry Potter. April lay on the other sofa with a purple blanket and Ophelia upon her, and Viola was curled upon a beige blanket near my head. It was pouring down rain outside, we were warm with fresh bread baking in the kitchen, and all was right with the world.

Listening to the rain drum on the chimney cover, I realized the room we were lounging in was half the size of our old apartment. April asked if I’d like her to bake some cookies and I said no, I wanted for nothing, and I was cozy and enjoying that the two of us were sitting in the same room for such a long period of time. It’s not that we don’t have free time where we sit in the same room, but every moment is to be cherished. I will remember today.

A moment of guilt reared up for not writing as I poured my fourth cup of coffee, but I shrugged it off and returned to my book. We need these good times, and besides, what would be the fun of life without them? I know of writers whose passion drove them to write constantly, who felt a burning, pressing need to get all their words and ideas out and onto paper. They foreswore their families, friends, and health to get the ideas written.

I want to be happy and enjoy my life. Writing makes me happy, so I do it sometimes. Lying on the couch with April and our snoozing cats (for I enjoy them much more when they are snoozing) makes me happy. Playing World of Warcraft sometimes makes me happy, coffee almost always does, and being warm and dry while it is raining outside is simply blissful.

Today is a good memory. It is part of a life worth living.