Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Baby's 30th Christmas?

Just about every family has one hanging on their Christmas tree year after year. It's a staple of their decorations every December. It makes them smile and remember back to a certain stage in their family's life. And no, I'm not talking about the time you had to forcibly pull your cat out of your Douglas Fir when it tried to munch on the popcorn strings.

I'm talking about the "Baby's First Christmas" ornament.

              
              

You get the picture.

You or your parents probably still have it stored away every year, and take it out to hang next to your family's dog ornament, your (insert favorite sports team here) ornament, the ornament you picked up on your family trip to the Hoover Dam, or the ornament your kid(s) made in Kindergarten.

This year, Karin and I started hanging up some of our own childhood ornaments now that we have enough room in our new apartment for our "big tree." And one of the ornaments she found was my "Baby's First Christmas" ornament. Adorable, right?

Baby JGHue - approx 4.5 months old
                                   
While I may seem to be making fun of these kinds of ornaments, that's not completely the case. The truth is that I cannot wait to commemorate every milestone in our future baby's life - and I know we'll find an awesome ornament for Baby Hue come next Christmas.

However, now that I see the ornament from my first Christmas in 1985, I wonder if they make a "Baby's 30th Christmas" ornament. Hmm...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kickin' & Squirmin' - 18 Weeks

Yesterday was a day that I've been looking forward to for quite a while - the day we got to see our baby again!

It had been ten weeks since we'd had our last ultrasound, and I was guessing that the little peanut was slightly more grown up since we'd last seen him / her. According to our iPhone app, the baby has grown from the size of a raspberry to the size of a sweet potato! Photos not actual size, of course.

                                    

On the week eight ultrasound we could barely tell which end was the baby's head and which end was its feet. It just looked like a weird, little bug - or some alien from a sci-fi movie that shouldn't be found inside a human being. To be honest, the doctor could have showed me a black-and-white picture of just about anything I would have believed him. But this is what we saw:

                                          

Looks like nothing, right? Maybe a seahorse, I guess.

Going in to our appointment yesterday, we weren't sure if we were going to even get to see the baby, but thankfully the doctor had enough time to fire up the old Ultrasound 1000 and do some searching for kibble and bits - or lack thereof.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to make a definitive call on whether we have a boy or girl coming, but we were still able to see some amazing things. Things that made us realize there was an actual human being in there.

It was kicking its legs. It was squirming around. It was even sucking its thumb! We could see its spine, its huge head, and even the umbilical cord! I think we can both say that thing started to click just a little bit more after seeing all of that.

Unlike our eight week ultrasound, we did not get a print out of our baby, so I have no new picture to share with you. But hold tight - we'll be scheduling another ultrasound for a couple weeks from now and we'll definitely get some visuals for you then! We'll even get to find out if we're having an Alex or an Alexandra!

And no, those are not on our list of possible names. You think I'd actually give that away?



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Football Baby?

There are many things that I'm looking forward to as a father. I can't wait to be able to make my baby laugh by giving zurbits on their cheek or stomach or by playing peek-a-boo with them. I'm excited about being able to hold and rock my baby until it falls asleep in my arms. And I'm excited to see its first steps or hear its first words.

There are so many things I'm looking forward to as a father.

But it's things like this that add these types of activities to my list - using my baby to make predictions or decisions in the realm of sports.


This is "Football Baby" - a baby who has the power to predict NFL games. Not only is the outfit flippin' adorable, but the whole concept is hilarious. After the baby gets put down on the couch, a team is chosen simply by which way the baby falls.

In the future, maybe I can use our child to help me make difficult fantasy football decisions. I think everyone in my league may rather have it that way anyway.



Friday, November 14, 2014

Episode 101 - Interview with JGHue - "Steve Blower"

As Karin's due date creeps closer and closer, I've been realizing that while I could spend time reading books on how to be a good father or listening to podcasts, one of the more valuable and encouraging things I can do is talk to other guys who have already moved into that stage of their life!

As a result, I've decided to conduct a series of interviews with these men, and tap into their experiences, anecdotes and words of advice. Since this is a daddy blog with a pinch of weight loss sprinkled in, I will be interviewing candidates under both of these headings.

Steve, Beth, Mikayla (9) and Caleb (4)
So without further ado, let's jump into my first interview with Steve Blower, a youth pastor currently residing in Fairfield, Ohio. I met Steve back in the mid-2000's thanks to the wonders of a little website called YouTube. We both were fans of the same online content creators, Rhett and Link, and forged a friendship as a result. Since then, he's not only become a father to two children, but he's also managed to lose over 100 pounds! Here is some of our conversation:

Jordan: How did you prepare yourself for being a dad?

Steve: I didn't really have a lot of time to prepare. My wife and I got married, and about a month later we found out she was pregnant. Mikayla was actually due nine months and one day from our wedding day - so it was very unexpected. We didn't have a lot of time to figure it out. We kind of flew by the seat of our pants. My dad is a great dad and provides for his family, and I thought, 'Well, if I can be half the dad my dad is, I'll be solid.'

I was trying to finish college at the same time, and we were in the process of switching churches, so we really relied on God a whole lot to make sure we didn't do anything stupid and that we were doing everything we could do. We really just took a leap and trusted.

J: What worries did you have leading up to becoming a dad?

S: As soon as we found out that Beth was pregnant, I stopped going to school and immediately got a job at a warehouse. And I'm not upset about not being able to finish school - God just took us on a different path. However, two weeks before Mikayla was due, I lost my job. The company completely closed down, all my paychecks bounced, and I was out about $7,000. Everything was gone. We had no way of paying for the baby, and the insurance had not been paying for doctor bills. So not only did we lose our job, but we were in a huge, financial pickle. That was the biggest thing that we worried about - it was a very difficult time. 

J: What ended up happening with that situation?

S: Luckily, the day after I lost my job, we went to the state and were able to get some help. It was all God's timing, because the day before Beth went in to get induced, we got a letter in the mail saying that everything was being taken care of - all of the prior doctor visits, the pregnancy and the hospital stay. It was definitely an answer to prayers - God really showed up for us.

J: What were some other challenges you faced once Mikayla was born?

S: I would say the biggest challenge would probably be balancing everything - like my relationship with my wife. I wanted to make sure that she didn't now feel like "just a mom" and not a wife anymore. She was still my wife. She was still my everything. Also making sure that nights were covered. Making sure I didn't wake up for work, take off, and leave her hanging. Whoever heard Mikayla first would go check on her. Keeping balance like that was the biggest challenge.

J
: What are some of the best things about being a dad in general?

S: I think one of my favorite things is when my kids do something and think I'm going to be happy with it, or proud of them, so they run up excited to show me. Mikayla gets so excited when she sees me and Beth being proud of her for grades or anything like that. I love playing sports with Caleb as well - wrestling around with him or playing with his superheros together. I love it when he asks me, "Daddy, will you play with me?" I think that's one of the best things - that my kids don't hate me. I know that they love me - not nearly as much as I love them - but they love me. It's just really cool.

On the spiritual side of things, we as believers can really get an idea of how much God loves us by reading his Word, but it takes it to a completely different level when you have kids of your own. I know how much I love my kids, so trying to take that tenfold to how much God loves us, it really just opened up my eyes on that side of life.

J: What is your history in trying to lose weight?

S: Man, I can't count the number of times that we joined a gym, just to poop out later. Two months at this gym, one month at another, and it never did anything at all. It wasn't until I had a life-changing moment. It was really more of a revelation that if I didn't change what I was doing, I was going to die.

J: So when did that revelation hit you?

S: About two years ago my wife and I were walking around at a mall, and they had a scale in the bathroom that you could use for a quarter. So I dropped in a coin and stepped on the scale. And in that moment, when the number came up on the scale, it shook me. The number was over 330 pounds. We got back in the car and I said to Beth, "If we don't make a change, we're not going to be alive when we're in our 40s. The way I'm eating, the way I'm living, it's not going to work. And you are either going to be husbandless, or I am going to be useless."

Since then, the most I've lost is 115 pounds. The scale that day said 334, and I've gotten all the way down to 219 at one point. My ultimate goal is to be at 199 just for one day. I'm shooting for that by Easter of next year.

                                
                                                    BEFORE                                  AFTER

JWhat did you do to lose the weight?

S: We started out doing Insanity for 8 or 9 weeks, which is stupid. We had to try to be quiet in our apartment doing jumping drills and running around. We really just tried to alter how we ate and how we lived. I try to jog two or three miles a few times a week. My wife works at the YMCA, so we get a discounted membership there and take advantage of their workout room. My friend Brian and I also weigh in every morning and report to each other. Having that accountability and competition is really good at keeping us on track.

But I gotta say, that first little bit is tough. Even after doing things 18-20 times, I still wanted to quit. It never became a habit, really. And it's still not easy. Beth doesn't like running. I don't like running either. I'd rather go naked down a sandpaper slide than go running. But I still try to push myself to do it. Over the summer I did my first sub 10-minute mile, and that was huge - HUGE - for me.

J: So knowing life with kids before and after weight loss, what would you say are the biggest advantages of having lost the weight?

S: I have so much more energy to play with my kids. When i was at my biggest, I didn't want to do anything. I was just so tired all the time. Everything would just hurt. But now, I'm able to get down on the ground with them and run around easily. I'm also not embarrassed anymore to meet other parents. When Mikayla first started playing sports, I would walk in and I would feel others looking at me probably saying, "Oh gosh, there's Mikayla's dad. Don't bring team snacks, Mr. Blower is going to eat them." And I know they probably weren't saying that (hopefully), but those were the thoughts that constantly went through my head.

There's a theme park in our area that has the most roller coasters of any theme park in the country. And they have this thing by the rides that I liked to call "The Throne of Embarrassment" - a chair that bigger people had to sit in to see if they were able to ride the ride. And I told myself, "I am going to ride every ride at this place by next summer" which meant I had to lose 50-60 pounds. But if I did it, it meant that I would get to ride these rides with my kids.

And there was a day last May when we were at the theme park and Mikayla said, "Daddy, will you ride that with me?" And this was a ride I was not able to ride before. And I looked at her and I said, "Yeah baby, I'll ride that with you." And Beth looked at me and said, "You did it. You did what you wanted to do. You are now able to ride rides with your daughter." And it was like a flood of emotion because I don't have to tell my daughter I'm too big to ride with her.

I never want my size to keep me from being able to create lasting memories with my kids. And right now I'm in a place where I don't have to worry about that. And it feels amazing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2014 Naperville Marathon - Or Not...

If you've read any of my posts older than two weeks ago, you know that I signed up for my first full marathon earlier this spring. You also know that I have since dropped out of the race due to a knee injury I suffered this summer. Apparently my knees and a sand volleyball court do not get along well.

Well, that marathon (believe it or not) continued without me this past Sunday.

Since the race was a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, I did not have the option of selling my registration to someone else or giving it away. As a result, I got stuck paying a decent chunk of money for a race that I wasn't participating in. However, I did realize that (like every other race) my registration comes with some 'free' stuff!

So Karin and I made the trek to Naperville, Illinois on Saturday to visit the expo that coincides with the race. It's a place where runners pick up their race bibs and vendors set up booths to sell running gear. It's a pretty fitness-friendly atmosphere, you could say.

Immediately upon walking in, we spotted a guy in a costume. And there's something you need to know about me - I am a sucker for mascots. If I'm at a parade or anything, I need to get a picture with them. Guess it's just my inner six year old wanting to get out.

We then went over to the board to find my bib number - #1430!



While picking up my bag of stuff, the lady handing things out just HAD to try to make conversation, didn't she? I, of course, just fed her fake questions - but in my head I was thinking:

"Is this your first race?" - It probably looks like it, doesn't it?
"Are you all ready for tomorrow?" - Yup. All ready to sit on the couch and watch football.

Needless to say, I really felt like I didn't belong there. All these skinny, fit runners in their race shirts and bright running shoes really just made me stick out like a big, sore thumb. On top of that, I had ordered a large shirt for the race. Guess I was a little optimistic about my training regimen.


But that being said, going to these types of events still reminds me that I still do have a goal of being a runner. While running a full marathon wasn't part of my Sunday this week, it will still be a part of a Sunday at some point in the future. I haven't given up on this goal yet.




Friday, November 7, 2014

Packers vs Bears = Weight Loss?

For the last few years, I've really struggled to effectively motivate myself to lose weight. I've tried rewarding myself with tech gadgets, clothes and concerts - just to name a few. I've tried to use my ten-year class reunion or a family wedding as motivation. I've downloaded apps or created spreadsheets to help my O.C.D. self track and log everything. However, none of these things have managed to keep me moving forward in my weight loss. The desires to eat what I want, lounge on the couch and sleep in have unfortunately won out so far.

But recently, Karin and I made a deal that may have turned the motivation ship around. And since the Packers are playing the Bears this weekend, I figured it was a good time to let you in on a little something something.

We agreed that if my stomach is smaller than hers by the time the baby is born, the baby is not allowed to wear ANY Chicago Bears onesies/clothes. However, if my stomach is bigger than hers when the baby is born, the baby is not allowed to wear ANY Green Bay Packers onesies/clothes.

(NOTE: The clothing ban would be lifted once the child is old enough to decide for himself/herself  which team they want to root for.)

                                 OR

This is kind of a big deal, if you know my level of devotion and fandom for the Green & Gold. As a Packer fan living across enemy lines (also known as Chicago), having a bunch of Bears fans as in-laws is already torture enough. I couldn't fathom my own flesh and blood not being able to represent Cheesehead Nation...

So the gauntlet has been thrown down. The deal is official. And it's time to get serious. We're not messing around anymore. This just got real.





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shifting Focus

Since early 2011, this blog has been solely about my adventures in running and weight loss. I am truly grateful to everyone who has read my posts, encouraged me in my efforts and participated in my conversations and giveaways. While I will continue to pursue running and still have a "weighs" to go in my weight loss, I am taking a slightly different angle on my blog from here on out.

Over the past handful of years I've gone through a few different stages of life. After graduating from college, I spent a few years living with good friends from school. (Shout out to Trevor, Rick, John, Jon, Tyler and Andy!) During that span, I uploaded vlogs on YouTube for 365 days straight and tried to make it big as an online personality. A few of us even hosted our own, weekly, online show! We watched tons of sports, sang karaoke and ate pizza on Friday nights and went to the movies on Saturday mornings. You know, normal single guy stuff.

In January of 2011 I got engaged to a beautiful, young lady named Karin, and the two of us got married later that year. Since then, we've enjoyed life as newlyweds traveling to places likes Washington, D.C, Tennessee, Arizona and even the Dominican Republic! (NOTE: Groupon is an amazing travel tool!) We watch way too much TV / Netflix, and we've been able to pay off a decent amount of debt. Life as D.I.N.K.S. (Dual Income, No Kids) has been absolutely splendid!

Fun in the Dominican sun!
However, a few months ago we discovered that we are expecting a baby! As a result, the wheels are now starting to turn on that next stage of life, and we're so excited to start our family! Preliminary nursery plans are in the works, baby showers are being scheduled and the official Facebook announcement has been made. We're changing gears rapidly into baby mode.

Our Facebook announcement photo

While we both have a lot of things on our pre-baby To-Do Lists, I have some specific, personal goals for myself in the months leading up to our baby's arrival.

From what I hear, it takes a certain amount of energy and fitness to keep up with kids as they grow up. And at the current time, I am not too keen on my energy and fitness levels. I've gained 40 pounds since our wedding and attempted many, many times to get rid of it. I've since become complacent with sitting at my desk all day at work and then coming home to sit on the couch and watch television until bedtime. I find myself frustrated and angry when I'm reminded of my size - trying on clothes, dressing up for a wedding, taking pictures, playing sports - but then I don't let those emotions drive me to change. In fact, they usually just drive me to food...

With the baby on the way, I've found a fantastic source of motivation to drop the pounds and get healthy again once and for all. So my goal with this blog is to still talk weight loss, but through the lens of being a future father. Even though I've been on hiatus from blogging for a bit and am shifting off the main topic of running (even though it will be a huge part of my weight loss), I hope you all continue to read and enjoy my ramblings.

In the days and weeks ahead, I will be working to make this blog my home for all things baby, weight loss and me. Please check back often for updates and future posts. Thanks for reading!