One Year Old

I never thought I’d have a daughter.

Truth be told, I had convinced myself pretty thoroughly that I’d never have kids at all. That is, until I met Nikki. Hunter and Aidan came with her, as a package deal, you might say. Then Cian came along. Three boys was a hell of a lot of work and stress and crazy, and then just as I got let go for the second time in my life, we found out that we were pregnant again.

We made it to three months before the miscarriage hit. The night before, I’d placed a lit candle outside on the snowy porch railing, as if I knew something was about to happen. I hit a pretty deep depression after that, and after a while, I decided that it wasn’t worth trying again. Three boys were more than enough. Nikki wanted to try; she wanted a little girl to raise. The disagreement almost ended our marriage. In the end, we agreed to wait and see if time changed our minds after a year or two.

Time decided that we’d get months instead of years. I figured it out one morning when Nikki had beef jerky and orange juice for breakfast as we headed out on a road trip. She’d not had her usual signs, but sure enough, Acelyn was on her way.

On June 10, 2011, we welcomed a screaming banshee of a girl into the world. She was wailing before they pulled her out, which made the weirdest gurgling sound I have ever heard. EVER.

This past Sunday, Acelyn Elizabeth Crampton turned a year old. She was surrounded by family and friends, soaking up every ounce of attention that they were willing to shower her in. She’s completely unlike her brothers, and fearless to boot. I’ll tell you something else: that cake never stood a chance.

Mom’s Day

I’m fairly certain that the breakfast gods are taunting me with the ever-elusive over easy egg.

That’s how Nikki likes them, so she can mop the yolk up with her toast. I’ve gotten it right a few times, but that’s usually when she’s requested them be over medium. And for the ever-important Mother’s Day breakfast in bed, the yolk broke as it exited the shell. I raised my fists to the sky (ceiling) and roared my lament at the gods (wondered if that paint was chipping). Ah, well. At least I got her bacon floppy.

With the baby wanting her morning nursing session, and the three- and five-year-olds in their natural, hyperactive state, I knew that Nikki wouldn’t get much of a chance to sleep in.  I gave her what I could, though, and we all brought in her breakfast (DAMN YOU, EGG YOLKS!) and wished her a Happy Mother’s Day.  I gave her my homemade card, which let her know in no uncertain terms exactly what her Mother’s Day present was. A date with yours truly to see the Avengers! The kids were a bit disappointed that they couldn’t come along, but they got to give her tissue paper flowers. How am I supposed to compete with that?

Later, it was off to the T-W-P to hang out with my parents and my brother.  My Dad cooked steaks under the guise of not letting Mom cook, but she still ended up putting out snacks and making her potato salad. Sometimes I have to wonder if that’s Mom’s need to be a host, or if it’s Dad’s idea that an entire meal can consist of steak. Not that I disagree with him…

The kids were their usual wild and crazy selves, Joe hung out a lot with Aidan and Cian, and Acelyn soaked up as much attention as she could get, as always.

Nikki and I have caught up on the Marvel movies that one or both of us had missed (Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America), so we’re ready to go for The Avengers. All we need to do is pick a date and confirm kid-watching, and it’ll be popcorn and superheroes for DAYS.

Swinging

It’s been a hell of a weekend. There have been some seriously stressful points, and some seriously amazing moments. I’ll recap the top in each category, and leave the rest for a later time.

Major awesomeness of awesome. Also awesome. Riverdance. Live. At MSU‘s Wharton Center. Nikki was gifted two tickets to Saturday night’s show by the amazing Peter and Becky as a thank you for watching their kids. I went, expecting to have to suppress grumbling and complaining, as a favor to Nikki. What I got was an experience that filled my eyeballs and ear holes with symbolism, story, talent, and inspiration. Holy balls, was that an amazing thing to partake in. I was drawn in from the moment that I realized that those clicks weren’t time delayed because of distance, he was clacking his shoes together in precise time WHILE IN THE AIR. Also, that drummer was better than the fiddler because, c’mon, eighties hair.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s lice. Our five year old’s Dad’s family discovered these little jerk faces minutes before Nikki was due to pick Aidan up for our weekend with him. (No judgement here, please. Clean and dirty people alike get afflicted with these bugs.) As previously mentioned, we sit for other kids, so we missed out on another weekend with him. On top of that, because the aforementioned kids were at our house on Tuesday, we spent the weekend turning the house upside down, piling everything that could be washed into the laundry, and everything else into plastic bags. We shampooed, we got haircuts (Nikki is becoming a pro with those clippers), and we sprayed furniture and carpets. All signs point to us being in the clear, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that that’s the case.

My hair needed to be cut, anyway.  The stylist at Walmart really screwed it up.

3 years old

Cian is three years old.  It’s been three years since that morning in Ingham Regional Medical Center (now McLaren Lansing) when he came into the world, weighing a whopping 9 pounds.

He’s suffered through what we thought was a dairy allergy (and are now thinking is a mild case of FPIES), two collisions between his head and concrete steps (I had no idea a tooth could get pushed up into your gum, let alone pop back into place – but seriously, stop running on the stairs!), and the terrible twos.  He’s come through it all with a vibrancy that has shocked me, and made me once again believe that anything is possible.

If you ask him how old he is, he will proudly tell you “Fwee!”

Happy Birthday, Cian.  I love you.

But, seriously, use the railing when you’re on the stairs.

Holiday Cheese

I love the Holidays.  I love the Christmas season.  I love the tree, the decorations, the hats, the carols, the unwrapping of gifts, the lights… I love it!

To me, Christmastime has always been secular, and  that’s how I continue to celebrate it.  The giving gives me a great feeling, and the receiving ain’t half bad, either!

As my kids are getting older, and their gifts are evolving, I find myself taking more enjoyment in their tearing open the paper, in their need to have the toy/video game/stuffed animal out of the box right now so that they can play with the awesomeness that has been bestowed upon them.

We’ve already had a couple of celebrations amongst family and friends, and with the way that our family is blended, we will be having them off and on through the middle of January.

I have to admit, my wife does the heavy lifting.  She braves Black Friday every year, so that we can afford things that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to purchase and give.  She meticulously wraps every gift, because she cannot abide my fumbling and inexact paper folding.  She juggles the schedules of two distinct blended families, not to mention both her extended family and mine.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without all of her hard work, and for that, I want to wish her, most of all, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Joyous New Year.

Father.

When I opened this post and added the below picture, days ago, it matched my mood precisely.  I felt a connection to my Dad, through this image of his serenity, that I don’t often feel.

DadI’m hoping that I can feel that more as I continue to grow into this fatherhood business, and as I reach for wisdom. I’m not under any crazy delusion that I’ll grasp wisdom, but it’s a good road to walk, I think.  A good goal to strive for.

To be completely honest, I still sometimes have a hard time believing that I’m a Dad.  Since I’ve put on those boots, though, I have discovered a whole new level to the definition of the word “responsibility.”

Sifting through distraction

HunterIn an environment of interruption and shifting priorities, focus cannot be determined by prioritizing a project.  If focus is to be achieved, let alone narrowed, choice must be used.  The question of “Why are you working on that instead of this other thing?” must be able to be answered, without fear of recrimination, “Because I chose to work on this now.”  Because, really, when the phrase “all things being equal” applies to priorities, my focus wanders all over the damn map.

This morning, I’m arguing on the internet to wake myself up.

My amazing wife has suggested to me that I not think about my goals in terms of which I should accomplish, and which I should discard.  She has suggested that, instead, I think about them in terms of which I should accomplish now, and which I should accomplish down the line.  This feels like procrastination to me, but upon further reflection, all deadlines for these projects are self-imposed.  My feeling of having to get them *all* done *right now* is internal, and is not a part of the goals and projects themselves.  If I look at my goals this way, I can arbitrarily assign importance, perhaps based on length of time required to achieve the goal, and then choose a goal on which to focus.  I can do all of this without feeling like I am abandoning the other things that I’ve started.

I need to finish what I start, after all.

These are the times when the madness comes.

Do I delve once again into the depths of my own self-doubt, fear of failure, and fear of success? No, I don’t think that this lifelong battle needs to be rehashed here, once again. It is sufficient to say that I now know more about myself and my more adult coping mechanisms, and that I am pulling myself out of the quagmire. It only takes the smallest misstep to trip and fall headlong back into it.

Sleeping like a BOSS

Sleeping like a BOSS

Acelyn knows she’s the boss.  I’m convinced that she’s acutely aware of how in control she is of our sleep, of the relative amounts of pain in her mother’s arms, and whether or not Nikki gets to accomplish anything while I’m at work.  She then purposefully activates her cute in massive waves that leave everyone around her stunned for hours.

With Google+ coming on the scene, I’ve noticed that my social networking behavior has changed a bit.  I barely visit LiveJournal, and will probably be adding those with active accounts to my RSS reader.  I may even import its history here.  I keep in touch on FaceBook, especially when it comes to kid updates.  A lot of my extended family reads there, as well as friends that are out of town.  Most of my technical and political stuffs have moved over to Google+, which seems a more intimate and friendly interaction, thanks to the structure of its circles.  Twitter ends up being for announcements and retweets.  Overall, I’m pleased with this setup.

Aidan and Cian in their Fall duds.

Aidan and Cian in their Fall duds.

School has started again.  Hunter is incredibly excited about and pleased with his new school, which is a godsend.  An environment in which he can learn and not feel marginalized would be amazing.  Not that he doesn’t require -all- of the attention -all- of the time to not feel marginalized, but that’s neither here nor there.  While I’m getting on his case to pick up after himself, turn off lights when he leaves the room, and for the love of all that’s holy, CLOSE THE SHOWER CURTAIN, I’m silently rooting for him to blow us all away this year.  That boy makes me proud.

Aidan is starting Pre-K this year, and has already butted heads with his new teacher.  He loves doing homework and is very proud about which school he is going to, and that he’s going to a “big kid” school now.  I think I’ll always be grumbly about him being in his other home during the week, but the stability has done him wonders.  The feather in our caps of being able to do what the other family said couldn’t be done makes things a bit more tolerable.

Cian wants to be just like Aidan.  He loves doing his “homework” when the other kids are doing theirs, but hasn’t yet started complaining about not being able to go to school yet.  He can point out Hunter’s school as we drive past it, though.  Who knows where we’ll be when he gets to school age… wherever it will be, it’ll be another fun ride.