Welcome to the world, kid

Up until now, my dad responsibilities have centered around Miles, our three-year-old son. Miles is a brown-eyed, tousled-hair, sticky-handed tornado of energy and big personality. He teaches me a little more about myself every day, and sometimes I have a hard time remembering what my life was like before him (I mean that in a good way, of course).

However, as of Monday afternoon, our second son Owen is now Abbey calls an “outside baby,” and will obviously demand his share of attention:

DSC_0825 DSC_0800

Owen Michael Doyle made his worldy debut Monday afternoon at 1:55 p.m. He was happy and healthy, just under 7 pounds and 19 1/12 inches long. He has big, dark eyes, a smattering of red hair, and bears a striking resemblance to his big brother when he was a newborn.

Owen on the left, Miles on the right.

Owen on the left, Miles on the right.

(I am told the red hair probably comes from my mother’s side of the family. Abbey does, in fact, have red hair, but that’s with the assistance of Clairol — or knowing Abbey, most likely whatever brand just happened to be on sale.)

The first couple of days have been fantastic and tiring. I can’t say enough about Abbey, who has been so tough through the whole experience. Several hours after having her abdomen sliced open, she was up and walking around the hospital room, and somehow managed to function on literally 15 minutes of sleep that first night. It’s amazing.

DSC_0853 DSC_0815

Speaking of amazing –

So far, Owen is thriving! He’s nursing really well, poops a lot — which I’m told is a really good sign – and doesn’t cry too much. His interests, at the moment, seem to be twofold: starting wide-eyed at whatever happens to be within his six-to-eight-inch visual range; and chewing on his blanket.

DSC_0893 DSC_0889

The eating thing is a huge relief. Miles struggled so much with that as a newborn that he lost a bunch of weight and had us worried for a while. But Owen has been, as his mom says, “a rock star.” I guess everybody’s got to learn to eat and poop sometime, but it’s nice that he seems to be well ahead of the curve.

Allow myself to introduce … myself

Regular readers of this blog know that its usual author will be out of circulation for a few weeks. But fear not, the show will go on! As Abbey mentioned in her last entry, I will be taking over Aparently Obvious while she is on maternity leave.

memphis3

For clarity’s sake, my name is Michael. I am Abbey’s husband, a regular contributor to the Courier & Press (and a couple of other very fine daily publications throughout Louisiana and Texas) and a stay-at-home dad.

Unlike my globe-trotting, career-achieving wife, my life story resides on the boring side of average. I’m a cheeseburger-and-fries, t-shirt-and-jeans, can’t-dance-at-all kind of guy. But that’s okay, we can’t all be Justin Timberlake.

I am from south/central Louisiana, where I spent the first 31 years of my life. Met a girl, got married, you know the story – next thing I know I’m in the land of Mellencamp and high school basketball. After a few years living in the northern half of Indiana, we moved down to Evansville about a year and a half ago.

I’ll always be a Louisiana boy. Louisiana is like something that just gets in your bones. You can never leave it behind.

But, I like Evansville a lot and have already come to think of it as home. I’m excited about the prospects of living and raising a family here in the long term.

So I will try to carry this blog forward with that as the overall focus, for you, the loyal readers. And I know you’re out there, because several times when I’ve been out covering a story I get the whole “You’re married to Abbey?!? I love her blog!!!” thing.

Mostly, it’s going to simply be a slice-of-life kind of thing, as we all get adjusted to life with a new member of the family. I feel like we’re off to a great start already.

Stay tuned!

Trading places

This is it.

At least for me, for a while.
As I type those words a couple things go through my mind — the first is the catchy 1979 Kenny Loggins’ tune (“This is It”) and the other is, “Oh my gosh I can’t believe that in just a few days I’ll be mom to two.”

Seriously, how did that happen? (Don’t answer that, I really know the answer but it doesn’t make it any less scary!)

Fireworks in Anderson in 2012.

After Michael Jackson’s “This is It” clears my brain (yes, both tunes are floating around in my head this morning), I am left only with my mushy baby-brain thoughts; I don’t really have anything too profound for my parting words.

But fear not, oh faithful readers. This blog isn’t known as “A ‘Mom’ly Obvious.” Its moniker is “A Parently Obvious,” so the other parent in this household will be taking over.

We are going to be kind of switching roles for the next eight weeks. Michael is super-stay-at-home dad who works from home part-time normally while I’m the full-time, works-too-many-late-nights mom. But now, Michael will be focused on working a lot more, and I will be taking on the primary parenting and household duties. I’m afraid of what may become of the house during this switch, but I’ll do my best.

daddy n' miles

I’m looking forward to the change of pace. I’ve never been one to question what my stay-at-home husband does all day. I know raising kids and keeping up with a house, along with working as a freelance reporter, is a ton of hard work. I have no allusions that my time at home will be a welcome break from my pace at my job. What it will be though is a wonderful opportunity for me to bond with our new son and to shower a lot of attention on Miles.

But don’t get too attached to my hubby. I want the blog back when I return to work at the end of November. No matter how clever, insightful or just better he may be, I want it back!

inns8

Until then, have a great couple months, and I’ll talk to you again in about eight weeks. Michael will keep you in the loop about all of our adventures as a new family of four in the meantime.

Some good too

So yesterday I focused on all the not-so-joyful elements of the “miracle of pregnancy” with this blog. And while I meant every single one of them and more that I didn’t even mention, there are some pretty amazing things about being pregnant.

Today I’ll focus on the things I’ve loved about being pregnant and will miss in just a few days.

Let’s start with the magic. It is kind of unbelievable to think about the fact that I am growing a human being right this very second! It’s a concept that is so hard to wrap my mind around. But there is a living, breathing (well kind of) little dude hanging out INSIDE ME. That’s kind of outrageous when you think about it. I think we all kind of just accept that this is who babies come into the world and don’t stop and think about how incredible and complicated of a process those 10 months of gestation really are. And I am lucky enough to get to do it — twice!

Another thing I love is watching and feeling Owen move around in there. And this kiddo does a ton of that. I don’t remember Miles being as active or at least as strong with his movements as Owen has been. Every time we get an ultrasound the tech even comments on how he’s always rolling, flipping or kicking something. I can sit back at my desk, in the car, in bed, really anywhere and if I sit still for more than a few minutes I see a little (and sometimes big) ripple or jump in my stomach or side. That’s pretty awesome (even the times that it is a kick to the bladder or a painful kidney or ribcage I’m pretty impressed with it.)

Ice cream, Jason’s Deli salad bar and other indulgences I may not always allow myself seem a little more acceptable while pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried to eat a healthy, balanced diet and was very active until about 28 weeks (an hour of Zumba twice a week, a 5K, several mile bike rides, lots of walks on the greenway). But my nightly dose of ice cream and a heaping pile of olives aren’t something I can really pull off when I’m not pregnant. It’s pretty nice to be able to excuse a crazy eating habit with, “Eh, I’m pregnant. What do you expect?”

I haven’t had to move furniture or lift other heavy stuff these last few months. Both times I’ve been pregnant we’ve moved. I’m not sure how I worked this out, but it happened. The first time around I definitely did more heavy lifting than I should have because I’m pretty stubborn and didn’t listen much. This time I did my fair share of packing (AKA most of it) but did very little moving and only kind of directed my hubby and friends who helped with the not-so-fun task. And when I’ve got heavy things in my car I’m able to say (and should say mind you), “Hey, I’m kind of pregnant over here. Do you mind getting that for me?”

And I think the most special part of this whole difficult, messy, stressful and joyful experience of pregnancy is that for these nine or so months Owen is just mine. As soon as he’s an “outside baby” I have to share him with the rest of the world. But right now I have this special, magical connection with him, something no one else will ever get with him. I treasured that so much with Miles and, even with all of the challenges and struggles I’ve had with this pregnancy with Owen I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m the luckiest person out there to have been chosen to create and nurture this little guy keeping him safe deep inside me.

So on Monday when the rest of the world gets to meet Owen, and I get to hold him in my arms for the first time I’ll know what that feels like because I’ve been holding him in my heart this whole time. He will no longer be a physical part of me but will continue to have a spot in my heart, right there next to Miles’ spot. And when he gets passed from me to Michael to my mom to my sister … I’ll remember the time when he was just mine and treasure these very special (hot and uncomfortable) moments.

What were you favorite things about being pregnant?

One baby to another

I’ve talked about Project Reveal here a time or two. My recent absence from regular blogging can be attributed directly to this amazing nonprofit organization and my role in planning its first-ever event.

The amazing Stacey Godbold utilizing the photo booth and showing off the back of her dress!

The amazing Stacey Godbold utilizing the photo booth and showing off the back of her dress!

The organization’s creator, Stacey Godbold, and myself have been working on birthing the baby that was named Embrace Your Body. This baby was a fundraising event Friday night and an outreach event on Saturday. We certainly are not the only two involved; lots of other people played big and small roles in bringing this baby into the world. But I’m not sure if anyone else went through the “labor” that Stacey and I experienced with this amazing event.

I’m not going to lie though, it was pretty painful. Remember, I’m just three weeks shy of birthing another baby (this one actually is a human!) I was so tired and sore when I dragged myself home after 11 p.m. Friday night that I couldn’t even walk upstairs to bed; I slept on the couch.

Let me first say, baby Embrace Your Body came into this world at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 at 56/58 Adams Avenue and was a healthy, happy and super inspiring gal. OK, enough with the metaphor … The event was fabulous. There were more than 200 people that came through the door; we raised a lot of money; we had a great time; and, most importantly, we touched and inspired a lot of people! That was the most important part of what we did.

One of the inspiring photos Erin took.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

One of the inspiring photos Erin took. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Two of the photos on display during the exhibit. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Two of the photos on display during the exhibit. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

The super-talented photographer Erin McCracken took hundreds of photos of women from the Evansville area of all ages, shapes, backgrounds and ethnicities back in June. And let me point out that these women were in their underwear! They were truly embracing their bodies and entrusting us. We narrowed the photos down to 24 and made huge prints (seriously huge — two feet by three feet.) Those photos were then displayed in a swanky feeling gallery space in Evansville’s Haynie’s Corner Art District. Add to that live music, a fun photo booth, delicious food, a bar, an amazing green lemonade and the inspirational words of Stacey and Erin and you have a perfect night.

We also made sure those that attended the event (and also supported us with their positive words, encouragement and donations) felt like they could be a part of Project Reveal. They participated in our interactive art piece that will forever be a part of Project Reveal and then also had the opportunity to either “embrace their body” or “reveal” something about themselves on luminary bags that meandered and glowed around the Haynie’s Corner fountain.

People walking to the luminary display at the fountain.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

People walking to the luminary display at the fountain. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries on display.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries on display. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

I’m not going to lie, when I walked outside and saw that at the end of the night my eyes got a little wet. It was beautiful. Not only was it just an impressive site seeing all the luminary bags glowing and the words written on them but it was validation for what we’d worked so hard to do.

Each of those bags represented someone that believed in something that I’d invested so much of myself into recently, something I’d made so many sacrifices for in recent months and something that I too really believed in.

Luminaries at the fountain. Picture courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries at the fountain. Picture courtesy of Project Reveal

It meant a lot that my mom, twin sis, family friend and boss all took their time (and money, this event wasn’t free folks, it was a fundraiser after all) to support me by showing up. There were other co-workers there supporting the organization as well. It really meant a lot.

I know my husband is so very, very tired of hearing me say, “I’ve got to work late tonight on Project Reveal,” “I won’t be home until 10 or 11 because of set up for the event,” “I’ve got to leave to do a radio spot for Project Reveal,” “We’ve got a Project Reveal event all afternoon, sorry I won’t be home.” But every time he said, “Go, have fun. It’s fine.”

Coworker Megan Erbacher posing with me and Erin McCracker during the event. Photo courtesy of Megan Erbacher

Coworker Megan Erbacher posing with me and Erin McCracker during the event. Photo courtesy of Megan Erbacher

Without him completely taking over all of the house maintaining and child care duties the last couple weeks I’m not sure what would have happened. I certainly couldn’t have done what I was able to do with and for the event.

I know I wasn’t the only one making these sacrifices. Stacey, mom of triplets who just turned 1 and a 4 year old, made even more sacrifices and put even more blood, sweat and tears into the planning. And Erin, who got married in the midst of all this event planning craziness, also was super dedicated and involved.

And the most important thing to stress here is that I WANTED to do it all. I’m the kind of person that likes to be involved in something. I want to channel my passion and energy into something I believe in. I hadn’t really had that in the last few years, especially since I’d had Miles. I’d get involved with specific events (I was on the planning committee for Relay for Life in Madison County, was on the Heart Walk team here, etc.) but had not really found a place where I really felt I belonged and could have an impact.

People enjoying the gallery.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

People enjoying the gallery. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

But I think Project Reveal is it. The mission of the organization is to create a forum where “women can help other women by sharing their stories, strength and hope about a defining time in their lives.”

So until I hear otherwise from Stacey, she and Project Reveal are stuck with me.

But I have to say, now that baby Embrace Your Body has made it’s debut it is time for me to focus on the other baby I’ve been working on for the last eight-plus months — baby Owen. His debut (if all goes as planned) is in 21 days. It’s been hard to focus on preparing for his arrival with all the event details and deadlines. So now my focus is on this baby and back on my amazing and supportive husband and kiddo Miles.

If you want to learn more about Project Reveal visit projectreveal.org.​

Throwback Thursday

Way back then the hubby and I did actual touristy things every once in a blue moon. This trip to Memphis was our version of a one-day vacation. Most of our vacation time back then was spent driving up to Indiana from Louisiana to spend time with my family.

memphis5

These days most of our vacation time is spent driving down to Louisiana to see his family.

During those trip five or so years ago we would try to make an overnight stop midway somewhere different so we could have a little mini-vacay.

memphis3memphis6memphis 1

 

This trip to Memphis in 2009 was a fun one. Here’s some of the memories from it. We look so young. And I still wear that shirt ALL THE TIME!

memphis2 memphis4

Not listening … my son, never!

Today when my husband picked Miles up from preschool he gets pulled aside by one of the school staff that helps with the drop-off/pick-up routine every day.

photo 1 (10)

“Miles had an especially difficult time listening today,” she said. I have no idea what the tone was as I wasn’t there and Michael doesn’t have a great brain for those kinds of details. But in my imagination it was pretty disappointing. Oh wait, no, it was ominous.

Dum, dum, DUM! *Insert suspenseful music here*

OK, let’s get real. The kid is three. Like just turned three. Actually, during the open house last week I learned from the teacher that this year is unusual as many of the kids are on the young side of three (although Miles is by far the youngest having only turned three nine days before the first day of school.) Most years the preschool class there is filled with kids who are either three and almost four or already four. So she admitted that things weren’t going as smoothly as normal.

I certainly want my little guy to listen. I want him to contribute to the classroom and not be a distraction. But I’m not really sure how you achieve that. We talk about the importance of listening. We try to practice it at home (trust me, we ask him to listen A LOT!) But what more can you do? What other strategies are there out there for “encouraging” listening.

We model listening giving him lots of opportunities to talk and to really be heard by my husband and me. And we certainly point out when he interrupts someone while talking and ask him to listen.

But again, he’s three. And a spirited, strong-willed, stubborn-at-times three at that. He is my child after all! My mom keeps apologizing to me for “cursing” Michael and me with a kid that apparently is just like me when I was a kid.

I don’t want to “squash” his spirit. But I do want him to be a productive and active part of the classroom, not a distraction. Advice for strategies to meet in the middle? What have you seen with your kids? What’s worked? What was a flop? Any teachers out there want to give me advice from your perspective?

Things don’t always go as planned…

DSC_0863

Parties are my thing. I love being a hostess. I love everything about it — themes, baking, planning, making lists (seriously, I really enjoy lists), making people happy … OK, you get the picture.

So when I was thinking about my son’s third birthday weeks ago I got pretty excited. We weren’t going to go nuts or anything. It was 15 people and was going to be a small cookout with the kiddos playing in the little splashy pool we got Miles as an early birthday present. But I was stoked.

DSC_0832 DSC_0835

But, as often is the case, things don’t always go as planned.
I was released from the hospital after three VERY long days a little more than 12 hours before his party was scheduled to begin. And if that wasn’t enough to put a damper on plans the fact that I was released with strict orders of bed rest flooded out any plans for a party.

Elvis wrapping paper -- I know you are jealous! :)

Elvis wrapping paper — I know you are jealous! :)

DSC_0840

Miles got Thomas the Train sheets and comforter!

Miles got Thomas the Train sheets and comforter!

My son deserved a party. I’m not sure if he really understood what was going on or what he was going to miss, but every kid needs a party. And my body was just incapable of providing one. Of course my amazing family wouldn’t let Miles be deprived of anything. My mom brought the party to us — an amazing Thomas the Train cake, a spectacular Thomas balloon, Mickey straws and noise makers and Spider-Man plates and napkins — and we had a little get together. I celebrated from the couch, but Miles was happy. He had CAKE! And to top it off, my mom and sister took Miles to the zoo Saturday so he could celebrate with my nephew, the monkeys, otters, giraffes and jaguar.

Miles and Charlie at the zoo

Miles and Charlie at the zoo

As much fun as I know he had at the zoo and during our impromptu, multicharacter/theme party it made me a little sad. OK, I’ll be honest, it made me a lot sad. I even cried when they were leaving for the zoo.

You can blame it on hormones (I am eight months pregnant) or the emotional roller coaster of the past days in the hospital. But what it came down to was that my little guy was now 3. Yes, I was sad I didn’t get to celebrate with him like I’d planned. But deep down I know he had a great time, maybe even more fun than he would have with the party I’d imagined.

DSC_0867 DSC_0856 DSC_0849

Another year has passed. Sentences are the norm now; he is out of his toddler bed and in his very own big boy bed. My baby is growing up, and I can’t do anything about it.

Will every birthday be this tough?

One small step for Miles, one giant leap for his mom

My son started preschool today.

DSC_0883
It’s kind of a landmark moment. Miles has been a stay-at-home kid for the last 18 months or so. At barely three years old, that’s probably all he remembers.
But now, he’s going to have a schedule to keep, get up on time, get dressed and ready to go. That’s a big enough adjustment for a kid who spends many mornings lazily camped out in the living room playing with trains with no pants on.
But now there’s the preschool.
Miles doesn’t have much experience being around lots of other kids. He plays well in small groups of two or three, but put him among a bigger play group and he usually stands around on his own watching, seemingly unsure of what to do.

DSC_0881
There’s also the structure to worry about. Miles isn’t a kid who really likes to sit still for more than 30 seconds or so at a time. At school, he’ll be expected to do so for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. And since it’s a Catholic preschool, he’ll also be expected to go into the church sanctuary and be quiet. That should be interesting, considering one of his most-loved activities is running and screaming random nonsense at the top of his lungs.
But he’s a little kid, and they’re flexible. He’ll figure it out, I’m sure.
His parents, well into their 30s, maybe aren’t as flexible when it comes to changes these days.
The school he’ll be going to has wonderful staff and a great program set up. My concerns are not that he’ll be mistreated or put in an unsafe situation. I don’t worry about that one bit.
It’s just the fact that he’ll be going into the world, all on his own. It may be only for a few hours, four days a week, but those are going to be some pretty interesting hours for him.

He’ll be learning new things not just from his teachers but also from the other children. He’ll be bringing home new germs and new ideas along with macaroni-glued artwork and fingerprinted Thanksgiving turkeys.

DSC_0879
There’s no doubt that it will be a beneficial experience for him, but still, there’s just a little bit of fear, or trepidation. You hope he won’t be a bully, or be bullied. You hope he’ll listen to and obey his teachers. You hope we’ve taught him well enough to go be a productive member of his little preschool society.
But when you really get down to it, all that is kind of out of our control.
Here goes nothing.