If we were playing the Instagram #fridayintroductions game I would tell you that I'm the biggest sentimental sap ever and reach peak emotional levels on certain holidays and special moments in life. With Father's Day coming up this weekend I've been extra wistful thinking about my journey through parenthood with my husband, and I thought rather than just write it all out I'd share some memories and a few of my favorite photos of Mike being an amazing dad to Harlow from the past 18 months....
Harlow was only a few hours old when Mike cuddled her on the couch in our room and introduced her to the beautiful world just outside the window. I love to think about how that, as he's showing her the world and telling her its at her fingertips, he's holding her tight to assure her he will always do his best to protect her from it, too.
Those lips! I just die over the sweetness of that face every single time. They took this picture while I was upstairs so I didn't know they'd captured this "tiny daughter, strong daddy" moment until Catrina sent us our photo gallery. It's one of my very very faves and is part of our gallery wall.
Poor LoLo had mild to moderate colic but one thing that would calm her down was bright, colorful shows or videos on TV. Which meant this girl spent a few minutes every night watching Wheel of Fortune with her daddy, who loves that game show and secretly wishes he could go on because he's sure he'd win :) My boo is turbo competitive but he is really good at Wheel.
Sorry if this grosses you out but look at that face! She was so giggly after one of her biggest blowouts on record. I was really happy daddy was home to help with this one; it was definitely a two-person job LOL. But before the big blowout, Mike was giving Harlow a bottle in her bouncy seat. We had to retrain Harlow to accept a bottle of pumped milk because we lagged on it in the beginning and then she turned against it. Mike would do whatever it took: a few times he even sat with her in the bathroom with the vacuum running (a soothing technique that worked like a charm!) to get her to stop crying and relax her to the point where she'd take the bottle. Eventually she got used to it and would hang in the bouncy seat in the living room while daddy caught up on golf or something. Funny how I can remember all that just by seeing which way the seat is turned in this photo :D
Once we got Harlow used to the bottle again, it gave us a LOT more flexibility in our schedule. This was a rainy spring Sunday at Sierra Nevada and it was a big deal because Harlow drank her bottle in my lap -- no daddy OR vacuum needed! -- and I could have TWO beers instead of the one I tried to squeeze in between feedings. There was a live band playing and Mike moved her hands like she was playing the guitar and the drums. She thought it was hilarious!
We also met some friends that day that we still keep in touch with -- it's awesome how family friendly breweries are here in Asheville! We've met so many parents rejoicing just like us over having some adult human interaction and conversation outside of kids' playgrounds and fun parks.
I remember Mike played the guitar and sang a song at the wedding of some of our closest friends and I was just like daaaaamn I have the biggest crush on him! Haha so that was way before we were together. Well, like a year. Anyways, now he's too busy to play the guitar a lot but when he does he can pick up a tune pretty quickly. On this Sunday afternoon he brought out the guitar and started playing some children's songs in a bluesy style -- I'm pretty sure this was in the middle of a righteous rendition of the ABC song. Harlow still loves music and dancing to this day.
The first time we took Harlow to story time at Barnes & Noble. She thought the story was so funny and loved getting to hang with some big kids for a little while. I just love how Mike's smile expresses that rush of parental endorphins you get when you see your child happy in the moment and enjoying a new experience.
OMG. Harlow had this thing about biting Mike's nose when she was tee tiny. I'm so glad this moment got captured on film because its one of those tiny details you may forget as time goes by and lots of memories fight for space in your brain. She's wearing her Little Lady onesie which was one of the first things we bought her when we found out I was expecting.
Daddy teaching Lo to fly 💗
Mike has always been the one to give Harlow her bath. In the beginning I was so nervous about handling her when she was wet and soapy -- babies get SO slick! Then it became his time to spend with her at the end of the day. During the week he only gets a couple waking hours with her each day, so he can always count on their tubby scrubbies. I also love this picture because it's like Mike is staring into a mirror -- she looks so much like him!
When Mike finally got Harlow to like swimming pools during our trip to Hilton Head last year. They went swimming together every day. Rubber Duckie tagged along a few times :D
She wasn't so sure about the ocean and clung to her daddy tight!
Our friends like to call Mike "xtreme" for how much he loves to play sports and go all out with whatever he does. So that's translated a few times to his parenting style like when he took Harlow skateboarding, and jet skiing, and sledding for the first time. I have the video of the whole thing and still watch it because those smiles are just so big and genuine!
Don't remember the back story here, but I love the daddy-daughter stare-down that's happening LOL
This photo is one of those full-circle moments because it reminds me of that first photo I shared of right after she was born and he was showing her the mountains outside. She was about six months old here and they just quietly stood there and looked and looked out at the amazing Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is such a beautiful place to grow up, and Mike and I both are so happy to have returned here to raise our daughter.
I saved this one for last because it makes me cry such happy tears. From day one, he dove right into fatherhood. When I was in labor, he stayed by my side every minute, and when it was time to push, he stood next to me for two hours and did my counts, wiped my forehead, gave me water, and fed me Jell-O. He watched our daughter come into the world, not shielding his eyes or his mind from the realities of birth or the condition my body was in afterwards.
He's been the BEST dad right from the get-go. When I was feeling unsure or scared, he was so supportive and stepped right in. That's not even entirely accurate because sometimes it was Mike who lead the charge of "firsts" while I needed some time to develop more confidence. You can see how tender he is/was with Lo in this photo. If he was scared or nervous, I never knew it.
I rely on his strength every day. I honestly feel like he's my other half because certain traits I lack he has in spades and I feel so much stronger when we're together. He sacrifices so much for his family. When we moved to Asheville, he knew it meant that five days a week he would spend two hours in the car driving back and forth to work. And no matter what, when he comes home at night he jumps right in to play with Harlow, help with dinner, or just give me a break. I feel like I exist in a perpetual state of exhaustion and I know he does, too. But for whatever reason, he can just handle so much more of it than I can and he knows that and lets me lean on him. Sometimes I wish I didn't need to lean on him so much but I do and I'm grateful that I am married to a man who not only lets me do it but is happy to!
I love how much our daughter looks like him. I often joke that if I hadn't pushed her out of my own body I wouldn't know she's my child because she looks sooooo much like him and very little like me. But I kind of like it that way. I will always have the bond of knowing Harlow grew in and came from my body, and when I look at her, I can see the true miracle of creating her life with the person I love most. And boy does that make me feel like I'm the richest woman in the world!
Mike said that for Father's Day he wants to do something as a family. He loves to go hiking and exploring so I decided to build my Father's Day Gift Guide around things a dad can enjoy outdoors! Whether it's hiking, camping, grilling, or golfing, an outdoorsy dad is always on the hunt for new "rad" gear as Mike likes to say. These are things I think Mike would like and want to share with you for gift ideas! Most of them are from REI so if you live near one like we do in Asheville you can cut out the middle man and forget the shipping!
Vasque Boots | Halo Headband | Maui Jim Sunglasses
Swiss Army Knife | Apple Watch
Black Diamond Trekking Poles | The North Face Rain Jacket | Canon EOS
Under Armor Freedom Tee | ENO Hammock | Deuter Child Carrier Pack