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Okay I had to put that video there..but now that it's out of the way, let's get down to business.

We are less than a month away from Ava's due date, but the fact is, she could be coming at any time now and it's simply a matter of us being as ready as we can be. Last night was a strong reminder of the fact that we are playing a guessing game here, and ultimately our lives are under Ava's control at this point. It might sound incredibly dramatic, but it's true. To make a long story short, Amanda and I were sitting there at 10:30 last night with our packed up, ready to make the trek to the hospital if the contractions she was feeling continued. They ended up subsiding (obviously, otherwise this post would be titled a bit differently), but it was just another reminder of just how close we are. And today, Ava is probably sitting in there laughing because Mom and Dad are now frantically putting together a to-do list for this week of all the things that are yet to be done. Congratulations Ava, you are 1/30th my size and you can send me into a anxiety-fueled frenzy. Reeeeeal cool!

So since I've gone far too long between posts YET AGAIN, where do I start?

Probably the biggest event that has happened since the last post was our pre-admission appointment at the hospital. We got a chance to meet with the Maternity Care Coordinator, fill out some good old paperwork (what else is new) and get a glimpse of the maternity ward at St. Luke's South. It was great to see everything, and was yet again one of those 'Holy crap' moments that makes everything seem that much more real. It might sound strange that I keep saying that; obviously the baby is real and I can feel her moving every day, and we are constantly talking about her and getting ready. But there's still this certain air of unreality (yep its a word, look it up) about it all that gets broken by certain moments. Getting a chance to see one of the room's was definitely one of those moments in this situation. Getting to look into an empty room might not seem like much, but for somebody who has been preparing and waiting for this event, it's like being presented with this halfway-completed canvas; my mind immediately started filling in the blanks and envisioning scenarios in my head. Seeing Amanda hold her for the first time, ME getting to hold her for the first time, all of us asleep at night in the room, our families coming and visiting. They all played out in my head like a movie preview and came accompanied with a strange mix of anxiety, anticipation and excitement.

Random thought: Amanda gave me a piece of information last week that completely broke my heart. Were you aware that babies can actually cry while they are inside of the womb? How terrible is that? Now every time there is a loud noise or some movement I'm sitting there praying that she isn't crying, because there is literally NOTHING I can do and I don't even like the thought of her in there crying with nobody to comfort her.

Another random thought: Amanda reminded me of the fact that babies are obviously going to fart audibly in public. Why is there a part of me that is tempted to fart in public sometime and blame the baby?

One new thing I find myself doing as I get closer and closer to Ava's arrival is making rules for myself as a father. The rules vary and pertain not only to how I'll act as a parent but also just my life in general. Here are some of the ones I've come up with thus far..some serious, some not as serious.

-I will never dress like a complete dweeb. For example, I saw a dad at Jimmy John's the other day wearing some high water, 80s-looking Levis with his long sleeve t-shirt tucked in and no belt. I mean come on now..I know you have kids, but did the kids break all the mirrors in your house or what?

-If Ava is ever involved in athletics or anything of a competitive nature, I'll always support her to the fullest and cheer her on, but I'll never let it get to an extreme where I am disparaging or talking garbage about the other team/opponent/etc. They are all kids who are working their butts off and doing something they enjoy, and should be treated as such.

-I will never purchase Heelys for Ava. She may temporarily hate me for it, but those are the most obnoxious, unnecessary 'shoes' I've ever seen. And there very well may be a 'No Heely' rule in my house if her friends have them.

-On a similar note, I will do everything in my power to keep her from watching Hannah Montana, High School Musical, The Suite Life, etc. (or whatever show is equivalent in a few years) I know I'll have limited control on this one, but those shows make kids grow up way too fast, and gives them the message that being a smartass/sarcastic/bitchy/dumb girl is something to take pride in. Sorry Disney, that's not the message I feel like passing onto my child; I'll stick to having her watch the classic animated movies, and maybe you should consider sticking to making those.

-I will very gradually, and very carefully, ease Ava into using a computer, especially the Internet. There's a lot of scary/disturbing/inappropriate stuff out there, and its way too easy to find.

-I will do my best to prevent her from being too technology-dependent for entertainment. Recently I've seen commercials for a new toy that is an electronic bike that plugs into the TV and plays games on the screen while they pedal. Here's a brilliant idea: get your kid a bike with some training wheels, and have them ride outside. It's exercise and constant visual stimulation that isn't constrained by what can fit on a cartridge or TV screen.

-I'll never get so wrapped up and involved in my job that I neglect spending time with my family. A lot of new dads probably make this claim, and there are probably plenty that end up failing to honor it, but I think its one of the most important principles that can exist for a parent.

-After the big first words like momma, dadda, grandma, grandpa, etc., Ava will be able to say TOUCHDOWN, KAAAANSAS CITY! (hopefully by then they will actually be scoring them)

-As much as it pains me to say it, I will cut down on my rap music listening (in other words, eliminate it when she is around). There is way too much material in rap music that could potentially bring about questions that I am not prepared to answer AT ALL. Maybe just a little Tech N9ne would be okay though..(Amanda will smack me later for this one)

-I swear to never 'let myself go' to the point where Ava says 'Daddy, why are you so fat?'

-I will do everything in my power to teach and constantly remind Ava that having an imagination and creative mind is one of the most beautiful and powerful things in this world.

-I will make sure to teach Ava how important and respectable the ability to laugh at yourself is. I'm guessing this lesson will come about the first time I make an ass out of myself in front of her.

-Five words: Public tantrums get you nothing.

This is all just a sampling. I could really go on and on, because new ones seem to pop into my head every day. One of the most exciting prospects of being a parent is getting a chance to teach. I may not be the most learned or knowledgeable person in the world, but I absolutely cannot wait to help guide my daughter and help her understand what is truly important in life, but also how to live it to the fullest and enjoy it as much as possible. As much as becoming a parent makes me feel old in a way, this feeling is completely countered by the anticipation to look at the world through youthful eyes again and go back to a time where so many things are new and being learned. All the little routines that I don't think twice about each day are going to become lessons and explanations for a little girl doing her best to understand the world that is happening around her.

So what will the next 29 days see?

-Final touches on the nursery. We are so close to the finish line on this one. A glider is on the way, laundry is complete, and we just have some decorative work to do. Ava, your room is almost ready!

-The start of weekly doctor's appointments. Another big indication that you are in the home stretch of pregnancy. I'm happy that I've been able to go to all of the doctor's appointments throughout the pregnancy. It's been a great chance for me and Amanda to learn about Ava's progression together. Any guys out there reading this, I suggest you do everything possible to attend as many of the doctor's appointments as you can.

-Babyproofing. We don't have a ton to do just yet, but we will be plugging up the outlets, getting rid of loose cords, and things of that nature. Ava won't be crawling right away, but she will be before we know it so we might as well be prepared now.

-Reading. This one is especially true in my case. Amanda has taken care of babies before with babysitting and nannying. I, on the other hand, have not, and anyone who is close to me knows that I do not like lacking knowledge in something. So, I have begun tearing through, and will continue to tear through, What To Expect the First Year. My mind is like a steel trap for baby information. Feeding...SNAP! Bathtime..SNAP! Public Baby Farts...SNAP!

-Getting hospital-ready. Installing car seat bases, making sure our hospital bag is packed with what we need, etc. I think we realized after last night that its better to be prepared early than be scrambling around trying to get everything together. If I hadn't quit the Boy Scouts, I would reference the 'Be Prepared' motto, but let's face it, Boy Scouts sucks.

That's all I have for now. Hopefully I get my ass into gear and this isn't the last post before Ava is born. But, even if it is, there's nothing to worry about because this blog will continue on FOR-EV-ER.


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