February 22, 2010

Most days it seems normal, natural even, that I am carting her around and changing her diapers and chasing her around the house and rocking her to sleep.

But from time to time, in no certain pattern, she still catches me off guard. Those take-your-breath-away moments when I look at her and remember again that she is my girl and I am her Daddy. I AM HER DADDY. I sit back in a daze, shake my head in disbelief and feel a blast of gratitude and awe at this reality. SHE. IS. MY. DAUGHTER.

And her survival depends entirely on us. Which makes me wonder, how the hell did we figure all of this out? And how did she possibly manage to get to where she is now?

Sure, there were many phone calls with friends and MANY google searches to help us along the way, but I had no idea how much our instincts would matter more than books and advice. Especially Kari's. She seemed to always know what was wrong, what to do, when to stop, when to start, when to panic and when to relax. It always worked like clockwork when we would have a Stella problem...we'd search the web, gather the stories, trade suggestions, scratch our heads at what Stella needed (as opposed to what another four month old who hadn't pooped in a week needed) and feel hopeless and then, suddenly, Kari would go with her gut and all would be right.

Perhaps what still astonishes me more than anything is how much my emotions are intricately tied to her happiness. When her days are easy, when she is happy and healthy and pooping regularly and not teething, my days are as good as they have ever been in my whole life. And I literally mean this. When she has one of those blissful days, I feel in the clouds, as deliriously happy as any of the adventures I've experienced. And when she has a hard day, the clouds of the good day part and I come tumbling down, falling as low as I ever have. What is the most shocking is that these days could come one right after the other. I know this is probably true of most first time parents in the first year, but I still can't believe how hopelessly depressed I am after she has one of those fussy mornings followed by a lunch disaster where she refuses to eat, followed by a rash that keeps getting bigger and forces her to scream every time we change her, followed by a night of flexing her independent I'm-not-going-to-sleep-no-matter-what wails. And this is all after feeling as happy as ever the night before when she cuddled and kissed me and went straight to sleep.

It feels like ages ago that we were a family of two. The days when packing for a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake took a few minutes, when seeing two movies a week was normal, when dinner out lasted as long as we wanted it too. The days of sitting around dreaming of what our little Stella would look like. Those days do not seem like yesterday and this year, despite what we were told, did not go by quickly.

I can't wait for year two.

February 21, 2010

Stella's evolution through Photo Booth...volume would help. :)

Happy 1st birthday kiddo...

February 19, 2010

The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world. But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.

-- Matthew Crawford, Shop Class As Soulcraft


While at times tedious and extremely heady, Crawford's work moved and challenged me to rethink "knowledge work" vs. "manual work" or white collar vs blue collar. He makes a strong case for manual labor, runs through it's history and weaves his own story as a motorcycle mechanic into the book. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book, which I doubt I would have made it through if I wasn't listening to it in the car, but I would highly recommend his essay that preceded the book. You can check it out here and it's definitely worth thirty minutes of your time.

February 5, 2010

In the same week our Element flipped to six digits, Stella rode in her bike seat for the first time. From wearing an uncomfortable helmet to zipping down Lake Avenue in cool morning temperatures, she seemed to handle the new experience like a pro. I knew the ride was going well when I turned around to see her feet crossed, her go to position when she's relaxed.

She seems older these days, just a few weeks before her first birthday. It's not just that she's climbing everything or playing hide and go seek or drinking whole milk or any other number of new things that seem to come in rapid succession. Her eyes seem different...the way she peers around corners or stares into us as if channeling a deeper level of understanding. She interacts with us differently. She gets her feelings hurt. Her personality is a whole lot of personality.

She's beginning to feel like a toddler.