Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Day of Firsts

Steph and I love that here in Germany, kids start kindergarten when they’re three: with an actual curriculum and structure to the time.  Monday, the 15th of November was a day of firsts in our household:  one big and one just noteworthy and funny.  The big event was that Paul started kindergarten and he loves it.  We were eager to have him start at a local (German) private school and we finally came up on the list.  The school is awesome.  It’s small and balances the number of international students with German students.  Besides the obvious social skill development he’ll get, one of the things we want for him is immersion in the local language and culture as much as possible.  Last week, running up to our American holiday Thanksgiving, the school asked Paul if he wanted to draw a picture of something he’s thankful for.  He said he wanted to draw a motorcycle.  I’m not sure why he picked a motorcycle, but I’m okay with it--neither Steph nor I are anti-motorcycle folks and it seems these are one of a number of things that tend to capture the imagination of young boys (at least our boy), along with space ships, airplanes and robots.  From his very first day of school, Paul can’t wait to get there and when we pick him up, he’s all talk about what he and his friends did that day.  He loves going and we’re happy he’s having such a great experience with the beginning of a lifetime of learning.

The other first?  Well, I recently converted Paul’s toddler bed to what he calls his “big boy bed.”  It’s still a toddler bed, but I took the low rail off the front so that his entry and exit isn’t constrained.  Neither is he when he tosses in bed at night.  We went a week or two without incident, then early Monday morning (the day Paul started school), we heard the thud:  the distinct sound of his small frame hitting the floor.  It went like this:  thud...about five seconds...crying.  He was fine other than the tumble surprised him and woke him up.  Steph and I were already on our way to his room during the short interlude between the thud and the crying.  The funny thing about it was when we stepped into his room, he was laying on his bed.  We asked him what happened, not completely sure since he wasn’t on the floor.  He told us he hit his head.  At that point I wasn’t sure if he fell out of bed or not.  We asked him where he hit it and he said, “on the floooooor.”  It warmed and broke my heart at the same time.  Falling out of bed is one of those rights of passage.  Apparently when he hit the floor, he used some superpower to leap back into bed in the two or three seconds before we were in his room--the boy is fast!  It made me think, though, that he thought he did something wrong.  A little love and snuggling later, he was back asleep.  I left for work a short time later and he slept just fine until Steph woke him for that big, first day of school!
It’s great to be a dad!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving is an awesome holiday.  I definitely appreciate its origins, tracking back to the early American settlers and their thankfulness to God for what he provided.  I also appreciate the holiday has broadened to something much more than remembering their thanks, or being thankful for the same things they were.

This Thanksgiving, these are the things I’m most thankful for:
  1. My wife and son.  They’re happy and healthy, and keep me the same.  There aren’t words to capture the privilege and honor it is for me to be a husband and father to these two, the most special people in the world.
  2. My parents:  all of them.  First for my mom & dad (who aren’t together any longer), and their spouses.  I love and respect them all!  Second for my wife’s parents who, for as long as I’ve known them as an adult, have treated me like their own son.  (It’s a long story, but my parents and Steph’s parents have known each other since Steph and I were larvae.  This marriage just might have been arranged...)
  3. My sisters:  all four of them.  Two of them are married and their husbands are like brothers to me.  One is single (HA!  I don’t have to share you, Sissy!), and one is no longer with us.  (I love and miss you, Galyn.)
  4. My grandparents, who will never know just how much they helped make me the man I am.
  5. Jess and Will.  Jess, you’re like a daughter to us, and always will be.  You married a great guy and we’re so happy to see your family growing!
  6. My ability to work and provide for my family, and to make enough to be able  share what we have with others--financially and materially.
  7. My country and the privilege of serving her.  I get as frustrated as anyone else over some of the things we do as a nation, but I’ve traveled the world and remain unashamedly thankful and proud to be an American.  Related, I’m humbled and honored to serve among and alongside my military colleagues.  I am lucky enough to have spent nearly two and a half decades serving with and standing among some true and amazing heroes.
  8. My job, that pays me to live in places for years at at time, with my family that other families save for a lifetime just to visit for a few weeks.  And many others only dream of such travel and never make it.
  9. For the last couple years, living as a friend, peacefully in a country that my country used to be at war with.  Germany is fantastic beyond words.  The land and climate are amazing and the people are some of the best I’ve met anywhere in the world.  My German friends are dear to me and I’m humbled to be counted a friend by some of them.
  10. Imagination: mine, my wife’s, and my sons.  I love seeing my son’s mind racing so fast and in so many directions--unconstrained to the best of our ability.  My parents allowed, and even fueled, my imagination and I’m doing my best to pass that kind of freedom on to my son.
  11. My friends, some tied to my career and others who aren’t, who are always with us thanks to modern technology.  You all are a huge part of what keeps me and my family going strong and doing the things we do.
It’s great to be a dad!