To Worry Is To Be A Parent

“This is your first…isn’t it?”

 

These were the parting words the walk-in doctor said to my wife and I, as we were about to leave clinic with my sick daughter.

I don’t think he meant ill with his words –my wife even described his approach as “suave” (I think smug was more fitting) — but it did make me question where I stand as a parent.

 

Was it right to come here?

Are we just overreacting over a little Cold?

Should we not have taken her to the hospital the night before?

 

I really didn’t have a clue. Being only 19 months new into this parenting gig, this was the only way I knew how to be.

 

An over-worried parent.

Continue reading “To Worry Is To Be A Parent”

The Journey Through Feeding A Toddler

Usually I start these posts off with some sort of anecdote, but instead, I thought I would simply show a clip.

This is an example a “good” feeding experience when my daughter was almost one year old:

I know I have a history of tormenting my daughter with yummy adult food she can’t have. But here’s my side of the story. ?

A post shared by Ingus (@snappingus) on

As I said, that was a “good” experience. You can see from the clip she ate all her oatmeal, and most of the food stayed where it should be and not on the floor, or in my face.

With that said there have been worse situations – one in particular involving blueberries that I do not wish to think about.

Suffice to say, the entire eating and feeding experience has be a trying experience, and like many new parents going through this process, it can be defeating and discouraging.

Sometimes, I would think to myself:

“Man, I can’t wait until she learns how to properly feed herself. I’m looking forward to the day where she’ll just eat without me having to worry about it!”

You should have seen the floor

Things also go beyond just feeding. In the early stages of teaching my daughter to eat solids, I still remember the science lab-like setup in our kitchen.

We would steam, blend, bake, boil, pre-chew (okay that last one was a joke), every organic vegetable known to man, hoping to find the perfect combination. Often times she would devour what we feed her the first bite, only shut her lips and treat it like poison the next.

I remember during this stage my wife and I felt pretty defeated.

Up until this point our daughter had steadily gained weight. But at 13 months, when she began to become a pickier eater, that’s when her weight started dropping. And the truth is, we’ve always been spoiled by the fact that she was always a good eater, so the loss of weight hit us pretty hard.

We felt that we had failed as parents, despite feeling that we had tried everything, but she still wasn’t eating. The more she didn’t eat, the more the pressure mounted. It began to feel like how it was when we first brought her home, with the constant tracking of how much she ate, and measuring dirty diapers, and doctor check ups.

I was warned how difficult things were going to be with a newborn, with the constant crying, and sleep deprivation. But I had no idea that feeding my daughter would put my patience and sanity to the test once again.

Before kids, I had no idea that feeding my daughter, or taking her out to a restaurant would require so much effort.

But now I know.

I now know, the pressure of getting your kid to eat.

I now know, the struggles of meal planning and preparation.

I now know, how it feels to not get to eat your food when it comes nice and hot.

I now know, the tag-team technique of alternating between shoving down your own meal while the other parent feeds.

I now know, how it feels to lose the battle of wits between a tiny human and a full grown human.

I now know.

And when our friends who don’t have children watch us at restaurants, we feel their beam of pity and concern.

I can see it in on their faces as they are thinking: “How are they this patient?” or “Is it always like this?” or “Should we stare, or not stare?”

Rest assured, we are fine. And please don’t pity us. We’ve come to realize that this is just the process of getting food in our kids.

Believe me, the first time we were at a restaurant, we did care and we were super self-conscious of what people would think if our daughter had a meltdown.

In fact, I remember us only going to noisy and spacious dim sum restaurants so that if she cried or screamed, no one would notice.

It just runs in the family. Who can ever resist steamed BBQ pork buns?

A post shared by Ingus (@snappingus) on

But eventually, we just stopped caring. We starting going to the places that we used to go to, and we started to worry less about what people thought, and more about what needs to be done.

As long as this kid eats, we didn’t care if she screams a little or makes a big mess.

“As long as she eats.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always a terrible experience, every once in a while we’re treated to those little moments that make everything okay.

Moments like this one:

Feeding time is extra cool when she busts out these moves. ?

A post shared by Ingus (@snappingus) on

How do you even get mad or frustrated when you’re treated to things like that?

And that’s the thing –  like everything so far with this parenting gig, things do become rewarding.

This kid knowa how to push my limits, but she also knows how not to break me. She just knows when to throw me a bone once in a while.

I could be sitting there feeding her for 45 minutes with no luck, but somehow by the grace of her mercy she decides to take in four consecutive pieces of chicken in a 30 second span.

My inner voice goes from, “F this bull crap!” to, “I’m the GREATEST!” in a matter of seconds.

These are the rewarding moments.

These are the moments where you realize it’s all worth it.

Such is the theme of this parenting thing, isn’t it?

We emotionally beat ourselves up, and bend over backwards for our kids, but we still endure it.

We endure not because we are sadistic or stubborn, but only because we are parents and that’s how we are wired.

That’s all.

And you know what? It’s not all doom and gloom.

The eating and feeding process is slowly getting better and better.

My daughter is slowly learning to feed herself, and little by little those tiny wins are slowly becoming large victories.

So if you’re a parent who is struggling feeding your kid right now, I promise it does get easier. I know every child is different, but I can confidently say that every good parent is the same, and your efforts and intentions eventually get rewarded.

And with this, I leave you with the most recent and unremarkable video of me feeding my daughter.

This is not to brag or anything. But rather this is to show that eventually they get it.

Comparing it to the first video in this post, this is proof that the feeding experience does get easier.

And for me personally, if I didn’t write this post, I would not have the opportunity to see the improvement.

So please, no matter what stage you are at, enjoy these moments.

Cause eventually our restaurant frustrations will no longer be us trying to get our little humans to pick up a spoon and feed themselves, but rather it will be us telling our big humans to put down their devices and interact with us like how they used to.

_________________________

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to leave a comment below, or send me an Instagram message, or a tweet!

If you have questions or comments on your own toddler feeding experience, I would love to hear from you!

 

The First Night From A Year Ago

With my daughter just turning one yesterday, I had some time to reflect back on what a crazy first night it was when she came into this world. Behind this confident looking dad constantly posting Instagram photos of how wonderful being a dad is – lies a memory of a traumatic, life changing first night at the hospital. A night that has forever shaped this dad, and is now in the back of his mind whenever the inkling of having a second child comes into conversation.

The dad is more impressed with the lights than the baby.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


You know when you buy Ikea furniture and before you build, you go through the instructions and feel a little overwhelmed? That’s kind of like becoming a parent. You know what the end product looks like, but the process of getting there is what’s confusing and intimidating.

Babies: Assembly Required

You realize that the end goal is you becoming a competent and loving parent, but in order to become that, you need to go through so many confusing and trying steps.

That is what I realized that first night when she arrived.

I remember that the first night after she came out, when her mom was recovering and I was lying with her skin to skin on a makeshift couch bed, she was so tiny and so delicate.

I thought to myself:

“Oh sh*t, I have a daughter. Oh sh*t, I’m a dad now.”


That moment, I felt like everything that I had prepared myself for was useless.

Skin to Skin and Sing to Sing

I envisioned how I would be as a dad, and I envisioned how it would be like to have a baby. But when it finally happened, I never actually thought about process of become a dad.

Basically, for those first early moments, I just did stuff I saw on TV and movies.

Seriously, at one point in my hysterical mindset I thought, “Oh I must sing this song to her so that she’ll have an emotional attachment to it and be calm in the future whenever I sing”

I talked to her and told her how everything was going to be fine and life is going fantastic.

That was all a lie of course.

I mean can you imagine sleeping peacefully in a warm toasty bed only to be forced out to the cold winter streets – wet and naked?

I’d be pissed and freaked out.

For the rest of the night I remember her waking up and crying every one and a half hours. And I remember getting up each interval changing her diaper and bringing her to mom for feeding.

After the feeding I would put her in a loose swaddle and rock her so that she would fall asleep.

It Ain’t 5:05 In The Afternoon

All that crying. 

It sounded like they cross-bred one of those rubber chickens with a pterodactyl.

What a truly terrible sound.

I felt bad that she was crying and disturbing her mom, so I just started walking around the maternity ward shoeless with a tiny baby in circles.

At one point I even thought, maybe if I walk her over to the nurses desk, they’ll see how distraught I look and help me hold her for a bit.

Nope.

They just politely smiled and gave me a “your-wife-just-went-through-labour-and-you-better-hold-on-to-that-newborn-look.

Fair enough.

Basically I was so tired and overwhelmed, and I thought:

Shhhhhhh*t I have a daughter now, and thiiiis is how it’s going to be?


I really didn’t think it would be that hard.

But it was.

And it’s something that I’ll never forget.

Ever.

Of course things got better little by little as each day passed. And when we finally were discharged from the hospital, we felt relatively confident that we were able to do this.

And we were right.

As the weeks turned into months, and the months now became a year life is pretty sweet.

“Don’t drop baby, don’t drop baby.” ??

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


As I write this, my daughter is quietly taking a morning nap, and last night I even slept for 7 hours!

Life is good right now.

Really good.

Yes, there still are tough days and tough nights. But nothing can measure up to that first night.

I think the experience I gained on that first night was exactly what I needed to prepare me as a dad.

And that’s the thing about becoming a parent, you can read all the books, go to the pre-natal classes, or talk to seasoned parents about their experiences. But when the moment comes and a life is gifted to you, you forget everything just learn on the fly.

And you’ll never forget. Ever.

Once assembled, babies are great.

 

Why Every Parent Needs a GoPro

This is not an endorsement, I have not been provided any product or monetary incentive to write this. This is simply a dad having an epiphany on the value of recording video of his ever growing baby, and I just so happen to use a GoPro Hero.

 

I suppose the title of this post should be “Why Every Parent Needs to Video Record their Kid”, but that for some reason sounds a little pervy – so here’s Why Every Parent Needs a GoPro.

Front ShotSince the start of summer, I have ventured into the world of video making. No, I have not become a vlogger – my life is far too uninteresting and I do not have the charisma and youthful energy for it. But instead I have made an effort in recording and editing home videos of my family.

I already capture my day-to-day life as a new dad through my instagram feed and this blog. But I discovered recently the wonders of recording video – and that got me realizing that this is something all new moms and dads should do. I don’t intend to make this post a GoPro Hero review, but because it’s been what I’ve been using – so I’ll throw in some thoughts about it.

I purchased the base model GoPro Hero for my recordings and obviously it doesn’t have to be the GoPro brand. In fact it can be of any action-cam variety like Sony’s FDR line or the Xiaomi Yi cameras. It really doesn’t matter the brand, and  I think  most parents who are looking into buy a camera would do enough homework ahead of time.

For instance, my three major criteria for buying an action camera in general are simplicity, affordability, and durability. The GoPro Hero that I purchased just so happened to fit these requirements.

Simplicity

I would say I’m pretty tech savvy. But if I wasn’t, I would still be able to figure out how to use this camera. 

Some would say missing LCD, I would say calculated simplicity
Some would say missing LCD, I would say Calculated Simplicity

And I think that’s the whole point of these action camera, they want to be as user-friendly as possible so that you can focus on shooting.

Although for the uninitiated, I did find for some people (hi wife!) that they pointed the camera the wrong way the first time they used it- which naturally lead to some hilarious close up videos. But truthfully, it would take a regular person maybe 10 minutes to figure out how to turn it on, record, and turn off.

Straight off the bat, you’ll notice that the GoPro Hero does not have a LCD display to view your videos. At first I thought would be disappointed without this feature, but I quickly realized that by not having a display, it allowed me to focus on recording my baby while keeping the camera steady.

With an ultra wide-angle lens shooting at 170 degrees, all I really need to do is to ensure the camera is centred. I simply learned to trust that the camera would capture what I want it to capture – and for the most part it does it’s job.

More importantly, by a simple press of a button, I am able to quickly record whatever is happening.  This has been especially useful, as I been capturing all of those “first-time” moments with my daughter.

Durability and Handling

I’ve taken the GoPro underwater in a lake, let the sun and wind blow at it while driving 100 km/hour, I’ve dropped, slammed, and kicked the device and it’s still going strong. In a bigger endurance test, the GoPro has even been pitted against my 10 month old’s mouth.

The Ultimate Endurance Test
The Ultimate Endurance Test: A 10 Month Old

This speaks to the purpose of this device. In contrast, I have an enormous Galaxy Note 5 as a phone, and to add to my struggle: I have butter fingers. Pulling out my phone with one hand and recording a video sideways is pretty difficult, and often times I risk dropping the phone. With having a dedicated device to record videos while I’m chasing a baby around, I can afford to fumble and drop the GoPro without worrying about a cracked screen.

The ability to start recording with a press of a button is refreshingly simple, and in my dad realm, I need all the simplicity in life, with how complicated life can be as a new dad.

I Got Butter Fingers
I Got Butter Fingers

Affordability

Yes, this is was an older model, and but I still think I got a pretty good deal for it at under $150 CAD. For it’s price, if I ever did break it, or lose it, I won’t be losing too much sleep over it – compared to say losing my X100T, or my Canon DSLR.

These kids are expensive – and we parents need to be fiscally responsible, I simply can’t afford to spend too much on a video camera, and the price point actually fits my needs. In other words: I’m a cheap dad.

By nature of this camera being a base model, it actually works to my advantage, as when it’s time to edit these videos, my three year old computer has enough resources to actually edit the videos at a decent pace.

The newer models record in 4K with image stabilization etc…but if I were to realistically edit those type of videos, I would immediately need a computer upgrade to keep up with the specs. Right now, my videos are recorded at 720P 60FPS and my system handles it just fine.

In an ideal world I would love to record and capture at the highest resolution – but again, I’m trying to be a fiscally responsible parent here. Plus, I don’t think my wife would appreciate me falling down the gear and gadget rabbit hole of… “well now that I have this, I need that to work with it… then I’ll need to buy that!

She ain’t buying it, and therefore neither will I.  ?

Learning Stuff: Video Editing 

The superwide lens means, distorted but unique captures.
The super-wide lens means, distorted but unique captures.

Another totally unexpected thing with recording home videos was the amount of knowledge I gained from trying to figure how to edit the footage. If you were to tell me a year ago that I would know how to produce a short movie with video effects, text, and music synced along the way, I would not have believed you. The fact that I was able to learn and develop video editing skills was pretty awesome. In a generation dominated by YouTube and Snapchat – videos are here to stay. So why not pick up on these skills, so that you can at least try to help your kids when they eventually try to create something with videos down the line?

Granted my baby is only 10 months old, by the time she’s old enough to do this kind of stuff, I’m pretty sure she’ll be doing holodeck-like VR stuff. And I’ll be the cranky old man saying stuff like, “Back in my day,  we recorded in 4K!!”

Conclusion

I honestly did not think I would ever become a “video” person. Whenever I watched videos of people I thought, “Who the heck cares about this bozo in front of the camera?” But you know what? Now I care about the bozo and the baby bozo in front of the camera, and videos have become a thing when it comes to family outings and excursions. I love the ability of reliving the day, or better yet compare my baby’s cheek sizes from one movie to another.

I also get the added bonus of having the future of option comparing my receding hairline from year-to-year. The way I see it is, I might as well put in some work now, so that I won’t regret not doing it.

Hairline aside, I feel very fortunate to realize the benefits of video recording these little and big moments, cause even now I get to compare how fast my daughter is growing up.

So if you’re a parent who is on the fence about whether or not you should do home videos of your kids, there’s no better time to start now. Pick up a camera and start making movies, cause before you know it your kids will grow up faster than your hairline recedes.

Work Sample:

I guess it wouldn’t be a post about a video camera, without video. Here’s proof of the video editing stuff that I was talking about:

 

Feeding time is extra cool when she busts out these moves. ?

A video posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

 


I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos in this post. If you are interested in seeing my other photos (I also shoot with a Canon 6D and FujiFilm X100T), do check out my Instagram feed where I post daily.

Thanks again for reading this review, now if you excuse me I have to toddler to chase. ?

Breaking Our Hermit Shell

I would categorize my wife and I as hermits. Sure we used to go on spontaneous trips (hello Iceland), go see the occasional show, and we were pretty big on food. But when it came to maximizing our weekends, we normally preferred the lazy route by donning our PJs and staying in.

But since our daughter coming into our lives, we’ve been shockingly meticulous in planning out our weekends. It reminds me of when we had our dog and frequently forced ourselves to plan excursions to pet festivals and dog parks.


The inner-hermit in me initially didn’t like it at first, but ever since going to the Toronto Islands last week, a switch just came on inside.


To us it’s just another visit to a place, but to her it’s a completely new experience. She’s basically a life-experience sponge right now, and if we don’t fill it up with a variety of things, I feel like it’s a wasted opportunity.


The moment I realized this was when we finally arrived and sat under a tree to feed her. And by looking at her, I was able to see the reflection of trees and clouds in her eyes as she was trying to process what she was seeing.


Waiting for her first ferry, in deep thought.

That made me realize that this was the first time I fed her in a park on a sunny day, and this was the first time she was able to look up at the clouds and the sky and process what she was seeing.


By how distracted she was, I could also tell that she was trying to take it all in.


That was kind of incredible for me, and her look is something that I will never forget or take for granted.

A while back, while cleaning, I found some faded photos of my parents in the 70s taking my brother to a park when he was a few months old. To me it was a shock to see my parents so young, and it immediately made me wonder what was going on in their mind back then.


So if Charlie ever wonders the same one day, this is what I was going on in my head:


Prior to having a kid, I knew that it would be up to us parents to teach and show her what life has to offer. But this kid, at just over six months just proved to me that I have just as much to learn as a parent too.

After eight hours, three bottles, two ferry rides, two miniature horses sightings, and one carousel ride later, she and both her mom and dad had a crazy day of firsts.


And this hermit of a father, is looking forward to the next adventure.


At first glance this appears to be a sweet photo of me carrying Charlie, but the truth is I’m wiping her drool off of my chin with her bib. Nonetheless I’m one proud daddy. ?

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on