Monday, December 20, 2010

Come Quick!

"Aaron! Aaron, come quick!" Jen exclaimed, with what sounded like fright in her voice.

I pushed my papers aside, dreading the worst, and hustled up the stairs as fast as I could. Turning into Nolan's room, I found her hunched over the changing table. Over my newborn son's little body. "What happened?!" I asked, trying not to sound scared.

Jen turned her head with a big smile as she ached from laughing. "Nolan just peed on his own face! He peed all over himself!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nolan Zachary Riedl

We have a new bundle of joy in the Riedl family! His name is Nolan, and he first started breathing air on Thursday, December 16th at 1:47pm. He weighed in at 9lbs 8oz, and measured 21.25 inches long. He has the biggest cone head that I have ever seen, but that is just the magic of natural births and the amazing human skull. Thankfully, Jen and I have all of Winter Break to spend time getting adjusted to the big change.

God is so amazing to have created this life and we feel so blessed to have the opportunity to teach and train Nolan to be a respectable man.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jen is Squished!

Nolan is at full term now and pretty much ready to come out at any moment! We are trying not to go crazy, waiting for the contractions to come any minute now. As for Jen, she is certainly feeling full and ready for some more room in her abdomen. These are some comparison diagrams of pregnancy, showing how much room Jen actually has inside for all of her organs as well as for the baby. I got these images from our birthing class. Very shocking indeed!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In The News!

Jen and I were both in a recent article done by East PDX News, regarding the Glenfair Community Garden!

Check it out:

Friday, October 8, 2010

New job... a month ago

I just realized that I have yet to write a post about my new job. I was hired as a long-term substitute at Walt Morey Middle School in the Reynolds School District. I am teaching 8th grade math and science at least until December.

The principal hired me the night before the day the teachers reported to the school for the first meeting. Talk about a last minute whirlwind! I was certainly scrambling to get ready to start my first school year. My heart was racing.

After about a month of teaching, I am having a great time. It is most definitely the most difficult job I have ever worked and is extremely time consuming since it is my first year teaching. Thankfully, the school is wonderfully organized and the majority of the students behave very well.

The nicest thing about this position is the way it fits with our pregnancy situation. About the same time that the teacher I am subbing for comes back is the time that Jen will give birth to Nolan. That way I should be able to take a nice break before going back to subbing.

This job has been very rewarding, and even though it can often be frustrating and exhausting, I am always thanking God for the opportunities and situations that have been made available.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tasties from Jen

Cherry Almond Bars

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting Excited for Nolan

Jen and I are babysitting for a friend right now. The little girl we are caring for is quite a chunk! She is one of the cutest two-month-olds that I have ever seen.

It is really fun to rub her belly, sing to her, and make funny faces at her. She loves to watch my tongue wiggle around like a worm saying "Hi" to her.

After caring for 8th graders over the past few weeks at school, this is refreshing. I am definitely getting excited about Nolan joining us in our apartment. He is due to start breathing air around mid-December.

It's amazing to know that Nolan is a mini-baby inside Jen right now and that he will come out and smile, cry, and sleep just like all the rest of the human beings in the world.

Uh oh... time to change her. Gotta go!

Friday, August 27, 2010

MAX Challenge Success!

I have successfully completed the MAX Challenge. I rode all ride-able tracks on TriMet's MAX. It was quite an experience, totaling 7.5 hours! Please check out the slideshow below, or view it larger here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Midwife Statistics

  • Percent of countries providing universal prenatal care that have lower infant mortality rates than the US: 100%
  • Percent of US births attended by midwives: 4%
  • Percent of European births attended by midwives: 75%
  • Number of European countries with higher perinatal mortality rates than the US: Zero
  • Average cost of midwife-attended birth in the US: $1,200
  • Average cost of physician-attended birth in US: $4,200
  • Health care cost savings if midwifery care were utilized for 75% of US births: $8.5 billion/year
  • Health care cost savings by bringing US cesarean section rate into compliance with WHO recommendations: $1.5 billion/year
  • Health care cost savings by extending midwifery care and demedicalizing births in the US: $13-20 billion/year

From the book Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ultrasound update

We found out our baby is a boy! We have decided to name him Nolan Zachary. We chose Nolan because it was a name that Jen and I both liked the sound of. We chose Zachary as the middle name because of its meaning: The Lord remembers. When we first discovered that Jen was pregnant, we were initially a bit nervous and surprised because I was finishing school, didn't have a job lined up (and still don't), and Jen just started her new job and was thinking about how to break the news to her new boss. We weren't sure how we would be able to provide for our new baby. But we realized that God is the one who provides and that He won't forget about us. The Lord remembers.

A week and a half ago we went to get the routine ultrasound checkup to make sure Nolan is the correct size and all that good stuff. It all went wonderfully. The thing that I keep remembering the most was how much movement we saw. We could see, on the monitor, his little heart beating. We could also see that he was kicking a lot, even though we couldn't feel it on the outside. Nolan was kicking Jen's bladder (which needed to be full in order to do the ultrasound) so much that Jen couldn't take it anymore, needed to stop halfway through and go the restroom.

It is most amazing, as a father, seeing this little being moving around inside of my wife's uterus. I have always been looking forward to this moment because I have always anticipated being a father. I always thought I would be joking around, saying stuff like, "Wow, that's my little alien!" But in this moment I am realizing that this is something miraculous. God created a life when my sperm met her egg and now he is the size of spaghetti squash. Pretty soon, he will be born, in school, learning long division, wanting to kiss a girl, and eventually making babies of his own. It's the amazing circle of life and I had better not screw it up! I am quite confident that I will be a good father, however, feeling the responsibility that lies ahead of me after watching a little kicking on an ultrasound monitor really helps me realize that being a father is a serious thing.

Since then, I have started to feel Nolan kick (which is totally awesome), I have been talking to him, kissing him, and cuddling with him and Jen. It is feeling more and more real as time passes, and once he is born it will seem extremely real. For now, though, I will be preparing by reading books (two books I have opened so far: "The Expectant Father" by Armin Brott and Jennifer Ash, and "The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin), helping my wife, and praying for the baby.

Oh yeah... and finding a job. :-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The MAX Challenge: Taking MAX to the Max!

I love TriMet's MAX. I ride it whenever I have the opportunity. I took it to work the past few months before school was out, I take it when we hang out downtown, and I have taken it many times to visit my parents in Beaverton. We live so close to it that it is easily the most advantageous form of transportation available to us.

When riding, I sometimes wonder about whether or not anyone has ever attempted to ride all of the MAX lines at one time. It seems very unlikely. I calculated that it would take more than 6.25 hours to complete this feat...a goal that most Portlanders would shake their head at.

But not me. I will take the MAX to the max.* I will attempt...
The MAX Challenge!

Here is the plan:

It is more complicated than it seems: I can't just ride all of the lines from end to end. I must ride them in a particular way so that I roll over every bit of track that is being used. Naturally, there will be many transfers along the way. So I'll have to bring enough reading material and music to keep me busy. Below is the line/transfer schedule, starting at the station closest to home...

E 148th Ave to Gresham (Blue line; 15 min)
Gresham to PDX Int'l Airport (Blue to Red line, transfer at Gateway TC; 50 min)
PDX Int'l Airport to Hillsboro (Red to Blue line, transfer at Beaverton TC; 1 hr 40 min)
Hillsboro to PSU (transfer from Blue line at Mall/SW 4th Ave to Yellow line at Pioneer Place/SW 5th Ave; 1 hr 10 min)
PSU to Expo Center (Yellow line; 35 min)
Expo Center to Pioneer Place/SW 5th Ave (transfer from Yellow to Blue line at Mall/SW 4th Ave; 30 min)
Mall/SW 4th Ave to Clackamas Town Center (Blue to Green line, transfer at Gateway TC; 45 min)
Clackamas Town Center to E 148th Ave (Green to Blue line, transfer at Gateway TC; 30 min)

Total time: 6 hours, 15 minutes (approximately)

Click to see map details

I'm planning on attempting the MAX Challenge on a weekday. The reason for this is because I don't think my wife would ever go with me and I don't want to waste a precious day away from her over the weekend. If you are crazy enough to go with me during the week, then let me know! I'd love the company!

Stay tuned for a post following the big event!

This video was taken by the big nerd that I am, when the new Type 4 MAX trains were starting test runs a year and a half ago.

*"Take the MAX to the max" quote coined by Weston Ruter, a fellow Gwinn Challenge participant, TriMet enthusiast, and friend.

MAX Challenge Success! 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adopt Foster Kids

I laughed out loud when I saw these funny commercials ( when watching the Uruguay v. Netherlands game today. But then I realized what an awesome message was embedded inside these simple ads: There are many kids out there that aren't looking for perfection...just a parent.

The narrator at the end of the commercials stated, "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent." And another ad stated, "Because kids in foster care don't need perfection. They need you." That is so true. There are thousands of foster kids in the world who were just unlucky when it comes to family life. Lots of them would love a good family to adopt them, and it would be so beneficial for them as they prepare for adulthood.

Jen and I are planning on taking care of foster kids eventually. We are planning on practicing our parenting skills on two or three kids at first, and then looking into foster care. It all depends on how Jen's pregnancy progresses. We would love to adopt kids for a long time...until we get too old to take care of them!

A friend of mine has a great quote on her facebook page: "If you're going to be against abortion, you had better be willing to adopt some kids." I think that quote is just awesome. So many people in this country are against abortion, and yet, so few actually do something about the group of kids who survived pregnancy and end up in families that don't want them.

Anyway, just some food for thought. Enjoy these funny commercials:

If you can't see the videos, go here and here.

Glenfair Community Garden

We have been keeping busy this summer working on the Glenfair Community Garden across the street from us. We were very excited last year when we started it with the planning committee. This whole process has been very new to me and extremely educational. Now I am faced with another role that is unknown to me: Garden Coordinator. I was elected to be the one who manages the garden, gardeners, paperwork, and upkeep. I am excited about the role and am happy to volunteer my time to do it. However, since I don't really know what I'm getting myself into, I hope that I am not too overwhelmed with the responsibilities. So far, I'm pumped because I'm all organized and ready to sign people up!

If you are in the Glenfair/Glendoveer/148th MAX Stop neighborhood in East Portland and are interested in a FREE garden plot, then have them contact me or visit and fill out an online application.

Here are a few slideshows to show you what we have been working on:

The Fence

Tilling, Digging, Spreading

Breaking Ground

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tasty Photos

Cinnamon Raisin Bread 9/7/09

White Chocolate Cake with Strawberries 4/4/10

Light Cheesecake 2/20/10

Turkey Pot Pie 1/10/10

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting 3/19/09

...and from long ago...
My first apple pie as a Riedl 12/1/07

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Preggo Visit #2

We just got back from our second baby appointment to see our midwife! Jen is doing just wonderfully. She is right on track with the baby-making process and is feeling much better now that the second trimester has begun.

After a few more weeks of thinking about this whole pregnancy thing, I am much more excited than I was originally. It is beginning to seem real, now that I can start to see her belly getting bigger.

I have talked with friends over the past few weeks and I have definitely nailed down the #1 coolest thing about having a pregnant wife: The miracle of life. It completely baffles me how there is a little human being forming inside the abdomen of my best friend. I have been interested in science for many years now, and I think that nothing has made me shake my head in amazement as much as pregnancy. It gives me a new perspective on Psalm 139:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Jen thinks it will be a boy, and I think it will be a girl. It'll be fun to see who turns out being right. We've already chosen a boy first and middle name, but are still discussing girl names. We still have a lot of time to figure that one out. All I know is that it is going to be so awesome when I can feel the little fetus kicking. I can't wait.

Lastly, on the last day of school, my cooperating teacher and the class surprised me with such a loving gift basket full of baby stuff. Jen and I felt so loved after such a wonderful display of generosity! We couldn't be more thankful to all of those who chipped in.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Blog Design

I really love Blogger's new "Template Designer" function. It helps the blogs look much more pleasing to the eye!

What do you think of the new Riedlblog design?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jen is pregnant!

Last week we went to see a midwife at a maternal care clinic and heard our baby's heartbeat! It is difficult to describe my feelings about it. There are just so many feelings all at the same time! I am very excited to become a father and am ready for the responsibilities that come with it. I am a bit nervous because I do not have a teaching job yet. Jen wants to stay at home with our baby once it is born, and I need to have a job so that she has that as an option. I am also very fascinated with the biological aspect of it. Hearing the rapid heartbeat of our little fetus was mind-boggling! How can a little life form inside of my wife's body!? Quite strange, indeed.

Honestly, I don't have much else to say. It seems as though I'm just along for the ride with this whole pregnancy thing. Of course I will check out some soon-to-be-father preparation books from the library and learn what I need to about changing diapers and such. However, I feel like the majority of my preparation to be a father has been over the bachelor days of my life. When I was single, I worked hard to become the man I want to be and the type of man that can be a good father.

It's going to get busy from now on. I will not have a whole lot of time to be working on improving my own behaviors--that's what I was doing when I was single. Now, I'll be working on improving the behaviors of my own children. Even though I still have much to learn in this new phase of life, I can honestly say that I am happy with the direction I am traveling. Thankfully, Jesus will continue to lead me down the right road and I don't have anything to worry about.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Both Are Winners: Steelers vs Yankees

It is an interesting experience living in Portland. Because we do not have a professional football or baseball team, we get a wide variety of sports fans of cities from all over the country.

For example, I have lived in Portland for the large majority of my life. However, I am a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan because my mom's family lives in northeastern Ohio. At the same time, I am a Seattle Seahawks fan because I began to appreciate football when my college friends introduced it to me when I lived up there.

I have recently encountered a large number of Pittsburgh Steelers fans. This has baffled me because of the size of Pittsburgh. Its population is around 313,000 people. That's it. And as for Pittsburgh's greater metropolitan area, it's roughly the same size as Portland's (about 2 million). How can it be that I look around and find so many Steelers fans when the city is relatively small.

I also see a lot of New York Yankees fans. Now this actually makes sense! New York City's metropolitan area is approximately 19 million. It is very understandable that the country's largest city would have the greatest number of fans for their team. So I would certainly expect to see a lot of Yankee fans here in Portland.

So...why do I see so many Steelers fans?

I discovered the answer when I looked at the number of championships won by each team. The Yankees have won the most number of World Series (27) and the Steelers have won the most number of Superbowls (6). It seems as though people are fans of sports teams that win often.

This makes sense to me. I can understand why people would want to be fans of a team that wins more often than it loses. Winning feels good. Losing is hard. I know that losing is hard because I am a Cleveland Indians fan. We have lost a lot more than we have won over the past few decades. Many heartwrenching losses.

Still, it makes me think about how people so desperately want to be winners. They don't want to fail. I think this is a normal, natural desire built into our design as humans. God wants us to strive for our very best and He wants us to follow a winner. It makes sense why so many of us are fair-weather fans. Why so many little boys pretend to be superheroes when they are growing up. If our desire is to follow the best, then that seems like a perfect design to follow Jesus. His perfection will always something that people will try to follow--just like a sports team that wins championships.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Marriage Tip: PB&J

Any husbands out there having a hard time thinking of random acts of love to surprise your wife with? Well look no more!

Check the pic: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the shape of a heart. And don't forget the string cheese! Gets her every time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

5th Grader's Chuck Norris Joke

I started a new weekly morning activity with our journal entries, called "Wednesday Joke Day." One of my students was sharing his favorite Chuck Norris jokes and they seemed to really catch on. Now, just about every boy in my class is talking about Chuck Norris this and Chuck Norris that.

We are starting a new unit this week, a simulation mimicking the pilgrims' voyage from Europe to the New World. The boys started joking that Chuck Norris was one of the passengers on the Mayflower. Eventually, one of them came up with this hilarious joke:
Most people from the Mayflower didn't survive the first winter in the New World. What they didn't know is that the first winter didn't survive Chuck Norris.
In order to prevent the kids from believing that Chuck Norris actually landed on Plymouth Rock, I think I might have to teach them about how quickly jokes get old.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring Poem

New Growth by Aaron Riedl

Hello, little tulip leaf!
You grow from a bulb beneath.
I almost trampled you with my boot.
Be free, grow strong, you are so cute!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mr. Dorito

The two best memories I have from teaching full-time over the last month:
  • The 7th graders calling me "Mr. Dorito"
  • One of the 8th graders said "Get inside! Mr. Riedl's coming!" because he knows I am not afraid to give detention for being late to class.

It's nice to be respected. :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (today) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday) are two big days for the school that I am currently teaching at. After all, it is named after him: King School. Today, we had a great speaker named Dion Jordan come talk to the students. He was very fun to listen to and took a bit of a different direction for a message than the stereotypical "dream big" speech that kids hear all too often.

He talked a little bit about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks in order to connect the message with overcoming obstacles and standing up for what is right. The main part of Dion's speech was about how he grew up as a cripple. Up until the age of 11, he went through having to use crutches and leg braces because his legs were crooked and his feet pointing inward. He also had trouble speaking and stuttered when he tried to talk in public. He talked about his life and how he overcame the disabilities.

One of the highlights was Dion asking the students to participate in an activity. He instructed them, "Raise your hand if you think you have confidence." Just about all of them raised their hands. He then told them to stand up if a question he asks pertains to them. He asked them, "Who here can sing?" and only six out of about 120 fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders stood up. "Who here can dance?" he asked them, with about 20 students standing up. "Who here can draw?" he inquired, and close to 40 students stood. The large majority of the students were still sitting. He told us that when he asked the kindergarteners the same questions, they all stood up waving their hands, saying "Ohh!! I love to sing! I'm the best dancer! I think drawing is so fun!"

Why have the majority of the older students lost their confidence? Dion explained that we (including adults) lose our confidence when we listen to people that say "You're no good at singing" or "Your drawing needs some work" and we really do believe them. And then we start telling ourselves the same things. When in reality, we can all sing, dance, and draw. Dion didn't ask them if they were professional dancers or artists. Anyone can draw a stick figure. The lack of confidence comes from when we don't believe in ourselves. That is the biggest obstacle in the way of us achieving our dreams.

Overall, Dion Jordan was a great speaker. He made me laugh many times. I felt like I was laughing the loudest out of all the teachers there. The kids loved him. I would definitely recommend checking out his books and read more about his life story. He seems like a great guy and he's from Portland too!