Friday, April 17, 2015

Withstanding the Whirlwind

Any day now I get the privilege of emerging from a hospital delivery room declaring that I am a dad! The countdown is currently at nine days until "Baby Hue" is due to arrive, and I'm gradually starting to realize that I have no way of escaping the whirlwind of parental responsibility, sleepless nights and poopy diapers that is heading straight towards me - much like this clip from one of my favorite, 90s movies, Twister.



If you've seen the movie (which I hope 100% of you have) you'll know that (SPOLIER ALERT!) Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt end up strapping themselves to some piping that runs deep into the ground, which keeps them from being sucked up into the cyclone. The storm passes and dissipates soon afterwards, and the two escape unscathed - in the miraculous way that only movies can provide.

While there's no escaping the whirlwind of fatherhood that is bearing down on me like an F5 monster tornado, I thankfully have some pipes that I can cling to when being a dad seems impossible. Fixing my eyes on the Lord and leaning on His promises are what will keep me from being picked up and thrown around by fear, self-doubt and worry.

Proverbs 1:33 says, "Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster." And later in Proverbs it also says, "In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge." (14:26)

At no point will I (or anyone) have the capacity within myself to be a perfect parent, and at times, it almost paralyzes me with fear. I'm going to mess up a thousand times as my little girl grows up - and at times I'm sure it's going to feel like I'm sprinting through a cornfield with a mega tornado bearing down on me. But the Lord promises me confidence, peace and refuge if I listen to His word and abide in Him.

It's these promises and verses that I need to memorize and keep at the ready - to withstand the whirlwind and to lead my family.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's a......

Whew! What a whirlwind of a Christmas season, am I right?

Between a trip to Wisconsin, running webcasts for work during break (while I was supposed to be off), family Christmas parties, awesome church services, video editing (for said church services), a New Years Day party and new blogging gigs for a couple Packers blogs I have been BI.ZEE!

So I apologize if any of you were stuck in limbo waiting for any baby updates for me. The baby is still on its way, and still growing like a weed. However, there is one major announcement I wanted to pass along to all of you.

Back in December, we finally got to have the ultrasound that we've been waiting for. The one where we got to find out if we were having a baby boy or a baby girl!

Here are some pictures from that morning. Isn't the baby so, freakin' precious! Look at that little nose!


We then hosted a Gender Reveal party that next weekend to let our friends and family know the answer to the question they were dying to know.We had green (boy) and red (girl) themed drinks, snacks and decorations. I even went around and polled the crowd for their guesses on which it was going to be. It was a great afternoon!

Feel free to watch the video below to find out for yourself. Not only did we have friends and family over to our place for food and festivities, but we were able to stream the reveal LIVE to anyone who lived out of town or out of state (like, virtually, all of my family).

In all, I think we had over 40 people log in to spend the afternoon with us and find out the great news.




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.