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Friday, July 29, 2011

Stay at Home Dad

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hands on/Hands off

I love my son.

He's five months old, and I love watching him play, read, talk, wiggle about in his pack & play. I love to hold him before and after naptime, when he's extra snuggly. I love hanging out with him in the mornings and evenings. I love watching him jump in his Johnny Jump Up while K and I are making dinner. I love rolling on the floor with him and having him bump against me.

I'd say I'm pretty much a hands on type of dad. The thing that I'm having difficulty with, truth be told, is letting him grow in his independence--being a little hands off. This kid has an independent streak in him like you wouldn't believe. On the day he was born, he let us know after being held a bit, that he wanted to sleep in a corner of the hospital room and take some time to be alone. He plays well by himself and is not afraid to try new things.

Now that I'm staying home with him full time during the summer, my tendency is to make the most of every waking minute to be with him. I know that one of the best things I can do as his dad is to teach him to make his own decisions and let him be independent. And that can start now--having time to play together and time to play by himself.

But at five months, maybe the best thing I can do now is let him know I love him.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I know, right? Why on earth would someone title a "welcome back" sort of post "Hashtags"?

Because they've been a lifesaver to me through Twitter!

I had been tweeting for about a year and a half before my son was born this past January, but my tweets were more about food, since I love cooking and I'm always on the lookout for gluten free recipes since my wife is Celiac.  I've used #celiac and #glutenfree.

But on the day my son was born, I felt like I found a whole new community when I added the simple hashtag: #newdad. I felt like I had joined a brotherhood of new fathers, and in an instant, I understood so much more about my own dad, my grandfathers, uncles, and even my brother, who's been a dad three times over in the past five years (and he has one on the way).

Since the day my son was born, I've discovered other hashtags, like #dadstalking where I'm getting tips about what to expect in the upcoming stages of fatherhood. I've discovered #sahd (stay at home dad), since I'm at home with JJ during my summer vacation as a teacher and discovering that laundry and dishes, truly, never end.

The dads who post are not experts, but we're all sharing our own experiences about fatherhood. Primarily, we're looking for community, for shared experiences, for help, and sometimes it's just a way to vent our frustrations. With these hashtags abounding and Twitter always open now that I'm at home, I just don't want to hashtag my way through fatherhood. I definitely want to be present in my son's life. I want to enjoy this time with him and grow with him. I want to share my experiences with other new dads in Memphis. I want to love my son and just be the best dad I can be for him.

That's a great new hashtag I may use now: #bestdad.

You can follow me at

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning Parte Dos

I put JJ to bed every night after K feeds him and reads him a book. Over the past two weeks, JJ has discovered his fists and fingers and sucks on them before going to sleep. (Well, it's more like he licks them. He's only 8 weeks old; give him a break.) Some time during his first week, he decided he didn't want to be completely swaddled for nap time, so I left one of his arms out of the swaddle--the Caesar swaddle, as I call it, because it looks like he has on a little toga.

Now, this kid has been left side dominant since his first day: he generally looks to his left, rolls onto his left side, and has started sucking on his left fist. Last night I Casesar-swaddled him, but I left his right arm out, trying to get him to use both hands. He threw a fit for about 10 minutes and was completely unconsolable. So I unswaddled him, changed his diaper and Caesar-swaddled him with his left arm out.

He went right to sleep.

So, last night I learned that my son is probably going to be left-handed. And sometimes it's the simplest things that make a kid happy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I had my 30th birthday last week, and I have a 2 month old. I've been married almost 2 1/2 years. Though these are numbers that make someone seem more mature, I don't necessarily feel older.

Now that I'm a father, as I've said before, I feel like I have a license to learn more and discover the world as my son is discovering it. I feel like I have permission to ask questions. To figure things out. To make friends and try new things.

Scott Logie wrote in his recent post about making mistakes to get better as a parent. I'm learning more in my job and in my family. I'm learning about how to be a better father. I'm learning how to be a better husband, and I tell ya: I've never been more in love with my wife than I am now!

And that's one more thing I've learned: my capacity to love has grown exponentially. I catch glimpses of my wife holding our son, and my first instinct is to grab the camera, but sometimes I just stop myself. There are moments I just want for myself--memories to treasure that no one can take away from me.

I'm learning more to love more.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


JJ smiled at me this morning. All week he has been fussy, and K took him to the doctor for possible reflux. JJ was prescribed some medicine, and he's been better over the past three days. After K fed him in the living room this morning, I passed them in going from the kitchen to the laundry room. K said that JJ tracked me and smiled.

I'm so amazed at how he's developing and how he's growing. I love him so much, and I'm reminded of how God loves me, his child.

JJ's lying down now, and I'm making breakfast. He's just talking, and I'm smiling.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gearing up for a romantic #valentinesday wknd. Making the wife feel special as a #newmom & #newdad.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I also need to make sure I'm working out regularly. I want to be healthy for K, JJ, and my future grandkids!

I'm a better man

I'm a better man since I became a father. I've become a better husband. I've become a better teacher. I've become more responsible and keenly more aware of how my actions affect others. I've also become more aware of my need to have older and wiser men in my life, including my father, who can show me things along the way and to let me know that things will be OK in the long run.

When I was a kid, I thought my dad knew everything. I still think he's a pretty knowledgeable guy. But now that I'm a dad myself, I catch myself guessing how my dad might have done things 30 years ago and realizing that he didn't have all the answers. He just did the best he could for the good of his family.

The biggest thing that I'm learning as a new dad is to learn new things. Ask questions. Discover. Admit I don't know. Live life. Be proactive.

Relish in bedtime routines.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

cloth diapering, a love story

I posted a couple of weeks ago how we were trying out cloth diapers for JJ. We had our trial pack in hand, and we weren't afraid to use them. JJ took to them quite easily, and we, his parents, found it was easier to use the more absorbent pods and do laundry everyday than to go through a box of several hundred disposables in about a week's time.

Since that last post, we are full-time users of the Soft Bums cloth diapers, and we're using the bamboo/organic cotton blend inserts. All in all, we spent under $400 for 24 one-size inserts, 8 newborn inserts and 8 shells. This combined with the two shells and some of the Stay Dry inserts we got with our trial pack means we're pretty well set. It's been really easy to use the Soft Bums because the inserts hold a massive amount of pee and poo--something JJ has become quite proficient in. Plus, they change with the ease of a disposable.

And I don't have to make any midnight runs to the grocery store to get more diapers because we just ran out at 10pm.

I told a buddy last night that I'm glad we're using the cloth diapers. He said, "I don't think that's something I'd ever be glad about." I meant, I'm glad we have the cloth diapers because of the overall cost of buying the big pack of disposables every week versus the one time cost of the cloth. It's true that the smell of day-old pee and poo in the wet bag is one of the more revolting things I've ever smelled in my life, but they clean oh so easily!

I just put another load in the washer and have a load of inserts in the dryer. That's much more comfortable than competing with other dads in the diaper aisle at Wal-Mart on a Saturday.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's official!

We ordered our Soft Bums last week, and they arrived yesterday! Kelly got the organic bamboo set, so JJ is pooping in velvety organic style! Kelly wanted to make sure we had the shells and inserts washed and dried and ready to go last night, so this morning we put one on JJ after his bath. (Kelly's going to a mom's reunion for her prenatal pilates class, so she wanted him smelling sweet and clean.)

We decided we liked the Soft Bums so much, we just wanted to stick with them, particularly since they're one size, and we can fine tune the size adjustment. The drawstring and velcro make it really easy! And, from a dad's perspective, they go on much like a disposable, so that's easy enough.

My mom in visiting for a few days, and already she's sent us out on two dates! It's great to have a babysitter for JJ, but even better to reconnect with Kelly as husband and wife. It's so easy to get caught up in the reality of being parents, especially with a newborn, that we forget who we are as a couple. We went to Outback in Midtown Memphis last night and got our favorites--including the seared ahi tuna and chocolate thunder plus wine! It was definitely a celebration!

So, this is our third weekend as a family of three, and we're enjoying it. This week, I started a new job teaching at a high school, and it's been great to have time in the afternoons and evenings with JJ and Kelly. What a blessing!

Friday, January 28, 2011

So great to have 2 date nights in a row, thanks to Grandmami visiting from GA! JJ's in great hands & I get to reconnect with my wife.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I'm named for my father, and there are a lot of good things I learned from my father that I'm remembering more and more now that I'm two weeks into fatherhood. During Kelly's pregnancy, I kept thinking about what my dad might have been doing 30 years earlier in preparation for my arrival. What was he thinking? How did he research baby products? How did he support his wife in her pregnancy after he got home from work?

Now that I'm two weeks into fatherhood, I still think about how he did things 30 years earlier and somehow picture myself in his shoes as I'm a new father. Before JJ was born, I asked my parents to send me pictures of them when my mom was pregnant with me. The thing that stuck out the most to me is that I'm older now than my dad was when he was expecting me. But as I'm establishing routines in my family, I see his influences in my fathering. For example, we listen to NPR every weekend, particularly for the quiz shows and A Prairie Home Companion.

I'm different from my father in some ways, and my family isn't exactly like his; it doesn't have to be. One thing I appreciate more than anything is his advice and his listening ear. He does a great job at listening to what I have to say as an individual and offering advice as prompted by the Holy Spirit. I'm taking notes for when JJ gets older.

Thanks, Papi.

Sgt. Jennemann, U.S. Army, 1980

Friday, January 21, 2011

cloth diaper trial parte 2

We had the Soft Bums on him for a couple of hours, and it worked well. We put in a newborn insert, and had it on him for a couple of hours. After two hours of having it on him, we checked him because we hadn't heard any of the normal wet or dirty diaper whimpering (this child only cries when he's hungry, apparently--counting my blessings!). Sure enough, his skin was dry though the microfleece insert had pee and poop. We were impressed with how dry he felt!

We went ahead and changed him and put on a disposable (yes, I know) as we were going to our friends' house. We definitely liked the Soft Bums, but we have a few more kinds to try. I'll let you know. From a dad's perspective, though, this seemed very easy to put on him and change. (Though Kelly actually did all the diaper maneuvers for this trial run, I was right there, so I stand by my use of "seemed" here.)

We got the Echo System Basic Pack as a trial run from Amazon.

snow day

So I started a new job this week, but the school district called a snow day for today, so I get to spend one more day home with K & JJ.

We're trying out the cloth diaper thing today. We've gotten some samples of different cloth diapers, and now that his umbilical cord fell out last night, we're ready to start with our real boy!

K put him in a Soft Bums diaper with a newborn insert. K thinks he may still be a little small (well past his 8 pound birthweight), but at any rate, we'll see how he does.

Monday, January 17, 2011

safe and secure

I remember that song we used to sing at church called "Leaning on Jesus." The chorus goes like this:

I'm leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus,
Safe and secure from all alarm.
I'm leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I thanked God for this wonderful picture of being safe and secure while holding my son just now.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Station

I mentioned in my post "Welcome 2011" that it had been about two years since my last post. And as I've entered a new phase in my life and seen how God's grace has been more than enough to cover us in our time of transition. When I started my blog about five years ago, I was processing my life after a neurological disorder, so I was literally living on my own two feet.

After seeing God's grace and provision being played out in the lives of so many other people, I have realized that there is no way I live on my own two feet; I live in community, with friends and family. I have a wife and a child, and my heart has grown bigger.

I've started this new blog in order to continue reflecting on the learning process of living as a teacher (hence the "Profe" part of the title), a father (hence the "Papi" part of the tile), a Christ-follower, a husband, son and all around nice guy.

It's been one week

Joshua was born last week, and it's been one wonderful week, I tell ya. Between the diaper changes and middle-of-the-night feedings, I don't know I've ever been more in love or more excited to be married to Kelly! Joshua has done well in his first week of life, and he's feeling more comfortable in his own skin and in his surroundings.

Kelly and I are so thankful for friends who've come and spent time, helped out, cleaned, and brought groceries. We're so thankful for God's provision and his church in Memphis!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Kelly and I are in the Labory & Delivery room waiting for our son to be born. We've been watching for him to come over the past week, and it looks like he's definitely going to be an independent thinker. Kelly had consistent contractions all day yesterday, but he was still content to stay with Mami. Well, this morning, he decided that he's ready to join us; we've been telling him over the past two weeks that he'd have much more room to play in his room than inside Mami. :)

At any rate, he's coming TODAY!!! We're so excited!!!! As we were driving to the hospital, I told Kelly that today definitely changes the entire course of our lives.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!

Welcome back to On My Own Two Feet. It's been almost two years since my last post, and a lot has happened in that time. I wrote my last post from my little living room in my apartment in the Cuatro Caminos neighborhood of Madrid. I was an assistant English teacher and had been married barely six months. We were attending Oasis Madrid Church, and we had our whole lives ahead of us.

Since March 2009, my wife and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in order for me to start teaching at a charter school. Since moving to Memphis, we have had heartaches and triumphs. I am now writing from the den in the house we bought; my wife is now nine months pregnant with our first child, and the car we bought is in our driveway. I'm about to start a new job--my school let me go since they had to "divert resources" to other areas, and Spanish is not a required subject in middle school.

And I turn 30 in seven weeks.

I feel like I've spent so much of the past 10 years trying to prove that I was old enough to take on life. I'd always had friends older than me, and after I graduated college, I moved to Spain to start a new life and grad school. Now that I'm on the other end of my 20s, I feel like I'm not trying as hard to prove that I'm old enough. With my son being born soon, I feel like I have a pass to be young and learn new things as he learns.