Baby #3

Well, this is a surprise.

I always thought eventually my fingertips would type the words “baby number 3,” just not now. Things happen in funny ways. A few weeks back Lindsey and I were out to eat celebrating for something totally unrelated to the title of this post. And then, with syllables sneaking out of her mouth, our lives changed. Again.

It’s not that we never wanted a third child. Far from it, actually. We often spoke of having 3 kids. I think we both were surprised when we learned indeed a third one was on its way, though. As with all surprising news, it took a while to digest all of this. Thinking about our new reality and spending some quiet nights really reflecting on what a third child meant for us.

I don’t claim to know much. If you’ve read this site long enough, you would know I’m a much bigger speculator and learner than teacher. But, after having two kids I know one thing for sure. I know having a child no matter what point in your life is a big deal. A tremendous responsibility and major undertaking. For me, raising my kids so far has been hugely rewarding. Rewarding in so many ways I can’t explain, and I don’t think I’ve yet fully realized.

To be completely transparent though, parenting has (easily) been the toughest job of my life. I have always been a person who believes in utilizing some sort of system. If this works, then do this. If that works then do that. I’d like to think I’m a minimal, simple, do what works type of person. Up until parenting, that has always worked well. To fast forward a bit, implementing systems and my kids just don’t mix. Liam and Luca are very fast moving targets and I constantly have to try new things in order to feel like I am an effective parent. Thats just real talk.

Being a parent has taught me one important thing though. Not everything needs a system or requires a script of some sort. If you really think about it, obviously being a dad or mom isn’t solved or made easier by searching for a system that works. Of course trying to be a perfect role model all day, all week and all year is going to fail. The one important lesson that being a dad has taught me is a simple one: sometimes you just have to roll with it, go with the flow, accept what God gives you.

So thats what Lindsey and I are doing; rolling with it. Don’t let my musings of worry fool you, I am blessed beyond measure to call myself a third time dad. Of course I feel a little nervous about it, who wouldn’t? But I say this; I accept the challenge! My diaper game will be on point! I will be a swaddler of the highest degree! My formula mixes will be efficient and accurate!

I don’t want to get to ahead of myself though, we are still in very early days. Lindsey is still in her first trimester. At this current moment, I am just trying to concentrate on being as helpful to her as possible. It’s amazing how you forget how taxing pregnancy is on the woman, though. Its like after the baby is born, all is forgotten about how rough and uncomfortable 9 months of a little human in the belly was. I just want to be helpful to her for these 9 months. Thats a good immediate goal, I think.

I wanted say all this to say we are thrilled and excited. Still a little surprised, but definitely thrilled and excited. I still consider it an unbelievable, larger than life opportunity to be a father. I have a great one and I always try to remember how thankful he was for us.

Truth is, there’s no greater honor to be called dad. Well, except being called dad 3 times over.

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Attention as a Resource

The other night I had a dream. It was vivid, inspiring and downright admirable. Sometimes my dreams are so far in fantasy that I know I’m dreaming. That has to sound weird but it’s the honest to God truth. This particular dream was so soaked in reality, confusion wouldn’t begin to describe my emotions. I woke up realizing the unfortunate truth. This was only a dream.

I had a dream of a world where people can sit through long, dull conversations, without feeling the need to douse themselves with instant-gratification delivered through glowing plastic screens.

I had a dream of a world where people were aware of not only their own limited attention, but the precious attention of others and wouldn’t start texting in a movie theatre, totally killing the mood of a dramatic scene.

I had a dream where our devices would be comfortably allotted as the occasional supplement to our lives, and not used as a poor replacement for them. Where people would recognize that the constant and instantaneous delivery of information has subtle costs associated with it, as well as its more obvious benefits.

I had a dream of a world where people would become aware of their own attention as an important resource, something to be cultivated and renewed, to be built and cherished, the same way they take care of their bodies or their education. And this new cultivation of their own attention would have oddly set them free. Not just free from the screens, but free from their own unconscious impulses.

I had a dream where respect for attention would extend to the world around them, to their friends and family and the acknowledgment that the inability to focus is not only harmful to oneself, but harmful to one’s relationships and ability to hold and maintain intimacy with someone.

If all this really happened, if all this was real, we would let freedom ring, from every village and every county, from every state and every city, we would have been able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, would have been able to join hands and sing “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”

Maybe somewhere in the world, humans act like this. Hey – a guy can dream, right?

Yes, this was my dream. But i’m awake now. Its very clear smartphones have just about taken our full attention. Myself included. You could call this a dark outlook. I unfortunately call it reality.

Truth is every human has an ongoing war with their attention. Whether they know it or not, their attention is in high, high demand. Until we can start thinking about and treating our attention as a resource – a limited resource at that – we are all in very big trouble.

Starting Liam’s Summer Schedule!

Summer break is upon us! Today was the first day Liam’s schedule was put to the test. I am happy to report all went well! I was a little nervous about the time blocks and if I spaced everything correctly, but for the most part the day went smooth. More importantly, Liam seemed to enjoy it.

A surprise take away from today: Liam’s behavior was very good. Like, better than usual. He’s never a bad kid by any means, but he certainly has his moments, especially when we’re cooped up in the house. But today, he was a great listener and respectful all throughout the day. I came to a very early conclusion that this was totally based on attention given.

Today, the schedule structured the day around him. I think he felt that and responded in a good way. Although attention was still equally distributed to Liam and Luca. But it felt much more so on Liam because each part of the day was tending to him. Of course, this theory could all fall apart tomorrow, but I’m going with it for now.

Here is the schedule:

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As you see from the pic, thats the schedule I settled on. I was little worried about some aspects though, I still want him to feel like he’s on summer break and his days be fun, but I don’t want him to think the whole day is a free for all. I hope it’s a good balance and he has plenty of time for fun and free time.

Let me take some time to explain and breakdown why I chose these specific events:

• Breakfast and Brush Teeth – Liam always has a hard time “remembering” to brush his teeth. What he doesn’t have a hard time remembering is eating breakfast, (its about the only words he could get out of his mouth in the early mornings.) So I decided to combine these 2 events. No excuses anymore Mr. Liam.

• Chores – A big one for us. We really wanted to instill responsibility for Liam this summer. I thought he was a tad bit young to handle a bunch of chores. I also didn’t want his day bogged down with work. So this was a good start I thought. We made him responsible for the 2 rooms he uses most, his bathroom and his bedroom.

• Outside Time – This was a no brainer for me and if we didn’t live in unbelievably scorching heat, we would be outside all day. Outside time is simple, go outside (early in the day) and do whatever. No rules except no hospital trips.

• Bible Lesson – I’ve always wanted to spend more time with Liam in the bible. The summer enables this for us. I’m not teaching anything extremely deep (nor do I know anything extremely deep), but we cover the popular stories and maybe some not so popular. I implemented a section at the end of Bible Lesson called “question time.” Where Liam could ask any question he wants pertaining to what we just learned. Question time was a big hit on day 1.

• Play Time –  A little break in the kinda busy morning. It actually served well today. It was a nice break for everyone. Also it gives me a buffer if I want to make lunch for the kids before 12. We had a little trouble today with understanding Play Time doesn’t involve TV. A couple bumps in the road. Thats ok.

• Lunch – Self explanatory except maybe some days we’ll go to special places. But most of the time it will involve getting out of the house and picking up some food from a drive thru. Not the healthiest option, but Liam loves picking places to go.

• TV Time – Liam’s time to watch whatever (per my approval) he wants on the TV. This doubles as time for Luca to take a nap and me to either chill out or write a little. Its 2 hours because, well its summer. Give me a break.

• School Lesson – One of the main reason I wanted to do a schedule for Liam the summer was to keep him connected to school things and keep his mind working. To not mentally check out essentially. I wondered how I could do an effective school lessons in the summer, though. I tried taking some of Liam’s homework throughout the year and after he was completely finished, erasing the paper and making digital copies. That seemed to work really well. I have about 20 pages of copies of homework sheets. So School Lesson involves 2 of those sheets per day and his reading book.

• Free Time – If, and I stress IF, Liam was a good boy and did a good job on both lesson times, then he can use free time to do whatever he wants, inside or out. Free time pretty much goes on until mommy gets home around 5.

So thats the rundown. Obviously, this is all early days, 1.0 software stuff. I guess I will see how this works and maneuver the schedule accordingly. But for now i’m sticking with it and hoping for the best as I walk the thin line between daddy and drill sergeant. Mental Note: more daddy, less drill sergeant.

Any ways, what was the point of this post? Oh ya…Day 1 over!

Happy Summer time!