Friday, July 24, 2015

Feels Like the First Time

Do the 'Santa Hustle!'
The last time I pinned on a bib and ran jogged participated in an organized race was way back in December of 2012. I signed up and ran a 5k with a handful of co-workers as well as a multitude of Santa Claus look-alikes. It was  called the Santa Hustle - which actually sounds more like a dance that everyone does at a wedding reception or school dance than an organized, athletic event.

I can't believe that it's almost been three years since my last race. I'm kind of ashamed, to be honest. Between mid 2009 and late 2012, I cranked out four half marathons, a half dozen 10ks and plenty of 5ks.I could pick up and run four or five miles without thinking twice, and without being sore for five days afterwards. I wasn't necessarily skinny, but I was at a much more reasonable weight than I am now - at least a weight that allowed me to run 13.1 miles in under two and a half hours.

Tomorrow I will be running the Big Ten Network 5k (even though the picture says 10k). This time I will be running with my brother in-law! And I'm planning on it being much harder and painful than any one I've done before. To be honest, I'm actually in a worse place now (physically) than I was when I initially picked up running in order to lose weight six and a half years ago... Eric, on the other hand, has killed it in training and lost 20-25 pounds! This will be his first 5k ever, and he will smoke me.

Here's to hoping this race is the eye-opener I need to get my rear in gear, and that Eric gets hooked on 5ks and asks me to sign up for another one later this year. Leading up to the race, I've made excuse after excuse as to why I "couldn't" go to the gym or head out for a run in preparation for tomorrow.

And tomorrow I get to pay for those excuses.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Father's Promise

Dear Evangeline,

It will be a while until you start to understand the world you live in - the words you're hearing, the foods you're tasting, the place you live, the faces you see. As of today, you're only eleven weeks old, and have a lot of growing to do. And it's going to be a long time until you understand the promise I'm making you today.

In order for me to be able to experience every, future milestone in your life with you, I need to make some changes in my life now. (And since it seems like you may be getting your height from the Huenink side, I may need to be around to teach you how to shoot a jump-shot!) By the time you read this letter, those changes will have been key in me becoming a fit, healthy dad who is going to be in your life for a long time.

                                                      Daddy does too much sitting around on the couch!

Today, my favorite thing about you is how you try so hard to imitate the faces and noises that mommy and I make at you. You stick your tongue out, furrow your eyebrows and blow bubbles every time you try to attempt to blow a raspberry. Look how adorable you are!


You've been such a happy, smiley baby for us so far - I'm looking forward to seeing that smile for decades to come - especially when it finally has teeth in it! 

So even though you may never read this, I still wanted to make this promise to you. One that I'm planning on making good on - no matter how hard the road is, and no matter how long it takes.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Father's #RealStrength

As I mentioned in my last post, this was my first year celebrating Father's Day with my wife and daughter. Not only was it a day that I was shown an extra measure of love and affection from friends and family, it also is now established as another day I get to open presents!

For my first Fathers Day I received a classic dad gift - a "multi-tool." I received the one shown below, but in silver instead of black. I also received a hilarious book titled "Your Baby's First Word Will Be 'Dada'" written by Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon!

Little did I know, those wouldn't be the only gifts I'd be receiving as a new dad. Four days prior to Fathers Day I was contacted on Twitter by the folks at Dove Men+Care in response to my blog post about Evie's birth. "This is pretty random," I thought to myself.

The folks at Dove then asked me for my address so they could "share something" with me. So I blindly gave them the address of our apartment - what could go wrong? - and just the other day I received all of this:


Don't mind if I do! I've used their shampoo in the past, but none of the products they sent me. And how about that sweet tote bag? They also sent me a hand-written postcard that came with the care package which mentioned their hashtag #RealStrength.

On their website they reference #RealStrength in regards to fatherhood - "Care makes a man stronger." It features user-submitted photos of dads with their kids as well as advice pulled from Twitter using their hashtag. Advice about thoroughly documenting everything as your kid grows up, get involved in their lives, making sure to set aside twice as much time for errands if the kid comes along, etc.

But after scouring through almost a month's worth of #RealStrength tweets on Twitter, I only found a couple like this:


Sure, a lot of the advice given by dads everywhere is very helpful and insightful in practically raising a child, but it's unfortunate that the majority of dads are looking in the wrong places for their strength - celebrities, self-help books or hashtags on Twitter - rather than looking than looking to the Lord for true strength.

                        Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline 
                                                  and instruction of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4

                           In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children 
                                                    will have a refuge. - Proverbs 14:26

                         The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold
                                                    in the time of trouble. - Psalm 37:39

Monday, June 22, 2015

My First Father's Day

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Since Evie is only coming up on her second month of life on this earth, my experiences and history as a father are pretty minimal, to say the least. It's really mostly just been lots of feedings, diaper changes and bouncing up and down trying to put her to sleep. But I'm told that whether you've been a father for 50 days or 50 years, you still are elligible to be celebrated on Fathers Day! How about that?

So yesterday was my first Fathers Day, and I found that I tended to carry myself around with more pride than usual. I wanted to parade Evie around church so people could see that I am the father of a gorgeous, baby girl, and I was probably beaming every time someone wished me a "Happy Fathers Day!" I even carried her with me up to the front of church when I won a prize for being the newest father in the room! (the prize was a multi-tool and a Slim Jim, which tasted fantastic)
Daddy and Evie all dressed up for church
I also felt very loved and appreciated yesterday. To kick things off, Karin took all of the overnight feedings on Saturday night rather than having us split them up like usual. This was a HUGE gift! I haven't had a decent night's sleep since before Evie was born... Six, straight hours is pretty much unheard of at this point! Thank you so much!

I was also able to Skype with my dad before church so I could wish him a Happy Fathers Day, but also so grandpa could see his only granddaughter. Unfortunately, the call had to be cut short due to a frustrated, crying child who needed a changing...

The afternoon had us taking the short jaunt over to the in-laws for dinner, which consisted of grilled veggies and rib-eye and porterhouse steaks! It also gave my father in-law (A.K.A. "Grandfather") some much-appreciated "Evie time" as well. Gifts were exchanged (I got this awesome book), and we ended the night by watching a movie. All in all, a fantastic, first Fathers Day!

I also want to take a few moments to thank / honor both my dad and my father in-law for their work as fathers. I look forward to raising children who can also look back one day and thank me for helping them through difficult times, teaching them right from wrong, and helping them walk with the Lord. I also want to say Happy Fathers Day to all the men in our church who are currently showing me how to raise a young child - whether they know it or not. Lots of great examples to choose from!

Friday, June 5, 2015

"Better Buy a Shotgun!"

As I'm sure it is with just about ALL dads with new daughters, the running joke among friends, family and co-workers so far has been that I'm in trouble in about 16 years.

I'm pretty confident that Evie is a cute baby. The only reason I pump the breaks slightly on that statement is because I know there is some level of bias involved coming from her proud papa. But even those who aren't biased seem to fall pretty far on the same side of the fence.

Sure, she had some goopy eyes for a while thanks to a blocked tear duct. That wasn't the cutest thing in the world. But she's a baby - cut her some slack. And of course she regifts some of the milk she's been fed. Who hasn't done that in their lifetime? I'd like to think the huge, toothless grins that we get to enjoy now more than make up for all of that. Take a look for yourself.

She's too much. I makes my heart hurt. That image is actually the background of my computer at work. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy showing her off whenever someone visits my desk and asks how "the little one" is doing. Boom. She's adorable. Deal with it.

If she's cute now, she'll probably be cute later. And that could give a dad some headaches - or so I'm told. I guess I'll just have to do my best to get ahead of that before the time comes. Or as my dad if I can get some practice in with his bow and arrow.

But for now, I'm just going to enjoy this tiny, little face while it's still this cute, and get in as many kisses as I can before dad starts getting annoying and embarrassing. :-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Month of Firsts (Obviously)

I was always amazed when my parents would tell me stories of when I was a newborn or a toddler. How could they remember that far back in their minds? That was 30 years ago! Maybe my soon-to-be middle aged mind simply can't comprehend having memories that old just yet? I mean, I can barely remember where I park my car at work every day! (Literally happened just yesterday...)
1 Day Old

But after just a month of being a dad, I know exactly how 30-year old memories are possible. Stories and memories from Evie's birth will stick in my mind forever. And I look forward to remembering even more as the years go on.

Another thing that parents say is that time flies when you have a kid. Well, last week Evie hit the one month mark already! And I must admit, it certainly didn't feel like an entire month since she joined us! Of course, individual days seem like the clock isn't moving, and you'll never conquer the mountain of poopy diapers and gallons of baby tears (I can hear Karin yelling, "Amen!"). But those days do pass, and when you stop and look back, they've seemed to pass too quickly!

Sure it's only been a month, but she's already changed so much! Here are some pictures from Month #1 - a month of "firsts!"
Evie's First Bath
Meeting cousin Elliot for the first time!
All dressed up for Steve & Kelly's wedding in Milwaukee
First walk in the stroller!
Evie's One Month Photo Shoot

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I'm a Dad!

For those of you who have children, you'll understand best why it's taken me a full month to FINALLY write the post about my daughter's birth. The last, four weeks have definitely been the whirlwind I anticipated in my last post, and it's taken some getting used to by all of us.

On Monday, April 27th, Karin and I went to her doctor to get an update on the progress of her pregnancy. Even though things weren't as far along as everyone had hoped (the doctor hinted at wanting us to wait a few more days), we had our hearts set on going straight to the hospital to begin the induction process - we wanted to meet our baby girl!

A quick selfie in the hospital bathroom to document my
weight the day before my daughter's birth
As we parked the car and made our way up to the labor and delivery floor, the true impact of what was about to go down hadn't hit us yet. This seemed to be the theme of most of the pregnancy, as a matter of fact. Despite the ever-growing baby belly and the stack of shower gifts that piled higher and higher in the nursery with each passing shower, neither of us really were ever stopped in our tracks by the realization that we were going to be parents, and responsible for this new, tiny, little life.

Once the induction process began at 6pm on Monday, it was simply a waiting game. Thankfully, the hospital that we went to recently underwent extensive renovations, so the delivery rooms were comparable to a decent-priced hotel room. Karin was comfortable in her bed, we had a 42-inch TV on the wall, and I was also provided with both a reclining chair and a couch that I could sleep on at night. On top of that, we had some really great nurses who kept us both informed and at ease. (Shout out to Jen!)

As Monday came to a close, all of us made guesses as to when our baby girl would arrive. A few of us were optimistic that she would arrive in the early morning on Tuesday, but you can see that clearly wasn't the case.

Tuesday morning ushered in another round of induction medication and more waiting. Thankfully both sets of soon-to-be grandparents and an eager uncle were there to keep us company. Contractions were slowly creeping in and getting more consistent, so we knew things were progressing as they should be. An epidural was eventually administered, which signified that the final stretch was just around the corner. Karin thoroughly enjoyed not being able to feel the pain (or her legs)!

At around 7:30pm, the nurse informed us that it was time. I marched down the hallway to the waiting room to give everyone the update.

That's when it hit me.

This was really happening. In the next hour, I was going to become a dad. My life was about to change forever. Adrenaline was surging through me to the point where I could either explode with happiness, have a panic attack, or break down weeping. I somehow managed to hold it together.

Selfie in my scrubs - ready to meet my baby girl!
Less than an hour later - at 8:18 pm - we heard that cry that every parent longs to hear. It was then that the journey began for all of us. We were now a family - father, mother and daughter. And it was time for us to start our lives together.

Here are some pictures from the hospital :-)
Meet Evangeline (Evie) Naomi Huenink. 7 lbs, 8 oz and 21 inches long.

Mommy and baby were happy and healthy after delivery!
This little girl is going to have my heart forever.
Grandma & Grandpa Huenink are all smiles over grandchild #1
Grandpa Henley was quick to show the world his first grandchild!
Grandma Henley and Great-Grandma Pintor can't get enough of tiny Evie!
Uncle Eric has the magic touch - a future babysitter for sure!
Thank you to EVERYONE who extended congratulations on the birth of Evie. We know we have a long road full of love and learning ahead, and we value all of your prayers moving forward.