Adventures in Fatherhood, Part 4

By ben  

My adventure was done two weeks ago, and just now I’m posting details of the final day. That’s how it goes.

It was a beautiful day. The kids were up in plenty of time for me to get them dressed and fed before Eliana had to go to preschool. Jonas refused to sit in his chair at the kitchen table, but he did okay sitting in my lap.

Aunt Sue came over and watched Jonas for the morning. She also brought lunch for all of us, which was much appreciated. We made it to preschool with time to spare, so Eliana and I walked around, looked at the fishies in the fish tank, and had exploring-type fun for a few minutes until the teacher arrived.

I headed over to the company fitness center, right next to the child care center, for a few miles on the treadmill. In hindsight, I could have run outside on the available trails, but I didn’t think of it until I was done. In any case, I managed to go running all four days during which Jenelle was in Mexico. Yay.

My original post-run plan was to go to Panera for a bagel before grocery shopping. I simplified things a bit by going straight to Pick N Save and buying just a muffin. I sat on the bench outside the store, ate the muffin, and then went back in for more groceries. Yeah, that worked. And I probably saved a little money, too. 🙂

For whatever reason, Eliana was very happy to see me after preschool. I don’t think she had a lousy time at preschool — she really enjoys it — but I got quite a big hug when I arrived to pick her up.

Back home, Jonas was also happy to see me. He was crying when I left. Aunt Sue said that he was pretty tired, so as soon as Sue left, I quickly got Eliana set up with some lunch and a TV show before heading upstairs to put Jonas to bed. Sue gave him most of the bottle, so I gave him just a few more ounces in the hopes that would speed along the process.

Jonas did not want to sleep. Despite calming him down and laying him gently in his crib, he popped back up, and he cried / screamed for 20-30 minutes before I went back up and got him, made one more try, and had no success. Eliana had been patiently waiting for me to take her outside, so I decided that Jonas would be coming along. One nice thing is that I was able to eat lunch while Jonas was upstairs sleeping.

I am writing this next sentence specifically for Jenelle. I let the kids play in the dirt and get all messy. I tend to hover and be a lot more hands-on when I am watching the kids outside, attempting to minimize any potential injuries / spills / post-playtime clean-up needs. Jenelle would probably just open the back patio door and let them do whatever while she attended to important housework. I actually like that we are very different in our approaches, as we can learn from each other.

Playing in the dirt

Playing in the dirt

We got another playhouse recently, because our neighbors three doors down put it on the curb. Yay for free stuff. Now there’s no hurry to get the other one up from the basement.

Eliana in the new playhouse

Eliana in the new playhouse

Jonas loving it outside

Jonas loving it outside

After approximately an hour of outdoor fun, we headed back in and got cleaned up. I also tidied up the house as best I could, because I had company coming that evening in the form of our small group Bible study. While we took it easy in the late afternoon, nobody got any naps. The kids were still pretty happy, though I could tell Jonas was fussier than usual.

Next up, a trip to Papa Murphy’s to pick up pizzas for the group. It’s only a five-minute drive, so I had no concerns about anyone falling asleep on the way. The pizzas were ready when we arrived. I set the kids down, paid for them, and was about to head out, but then I noticed Eliana and Jonas sitting calmly on the bench, both super-smiley. Rather then rush them back to the car, I sat next to them. Jonas would occasionally stand on the bench and look out the windows. I was engaged in a conversation with Eliana, but I don’t recall what it was about. This moment of relaxation lasted so long that the store employees asked what I was waiting for. “Oh, nothing, just hanging out for a bit. Thanks, though.” We left a minute or two later, and I still had lots of time to get ready for the evening group gathering.

Relaxing at Papa Murphy's

Relaxing at Papa Murphy’s

Thanks to Jeni, who came a bit early to help watch the kids and do some other preparatory tasks before the cavalry arrived. I made one of the three pizzas so that the kids could have dinner ahead of time, and they also enjoyed the kettle corn that Jeni brought. Jonas still wouldn’t sit in his chair, but once again I managed.

With the house in good shape and plenty of adults to cover the kids, the meeting went very well. The two moments I remember the most:
1) Kristin successfully keeping Jonas away from me for a little while so that I could tend to the pizzas in the oven. He was especially clingy because of not having a nap, so this was not an easy task — thanks!
2) The arrival of Rich and Maryke. For whatever reason, Eliana does not like Rich. She was playing in the family room having a wonderful time when she suddenly scurried up to me and requested in a quiet voice, “Daddy, hold me.” She seemed really scared. I held her as I queried the group, “Did anyone see what happened?” The voice of Rich from the family room — “Uh, I think I can explain that” — made it clear. Eliana must have bolted once she caught a glimpse of Rich as he came in the front door. To Eliana’s credit, she did sit in my lap for a while later that evening while Rich was sitting ten feet away from me.

Putting the kids to bed was very easy, since they didn’t get any sleep earlier in the day. Everyone in the small group was gone by 9, and I had plenty of time to clean the house up before I left to pick up Jenelle at the airport. Thanks to my friend, Mark, for coming over late on Tuesday night just in case the kids woke up while I was gone. They didn’t.

I was ready for Jenelle just outside security at the Milwaukee airport. She had a huge smile on her face as she approached me. It reminded me of when we were dating, and I’d pick her up when she flew back from Oregon in late summer / early fall for her upcoming year at Northwestern.

We had to wait a while for our bags, but that gave us more time to chat and catch up. She had a wonderful time in Mexico, and I had a wonderful time with the kids.

So, that sums up my four-day adventure. I would be more than happy to have another adventure like this in the near future.