Monday, August 22, 2011

Moving to Ontario, Oregon

A week ago, I drove approximately 360 miles and 6.5 hours through the Columbia River Gorge, over the Blue Mountains, and across the dry high desert to the small town of Ontario, Oregon. It is right on the border of Idaho and the last stop on I-84 before crossing over the Snake River. There are only about 12,000 people living in the city, and I accepted an 8th grade math teaching position at their only middle school. I'm pumped!

Ontario Middle School is filled with staff who are so welcoming and willing to help me out. I have had so many people offer me a place to stay, to drive me around, and advice about the town. I have felt nothing but comfort in my new position, and I can't wait to meet my students! There are many positive things that seem to be happening in the district. There is construction on new buildings at the middle school and the high school, so it is clear to me that the kids have people who really care about them.

My home for the past week has been the friendly neighborhood Motel 6. It has been a nice place to relax while searching for a rental in the area. I ended up finding a great place in the north end of Ontario and plan on moving my small pile of belongings in tomorrow. The funny thing is that some of the people from my school have told me that it is the "bad" part of town. With drugs, drive-bys, and stabbings. Stuff like that. My immediate thought was, "Hey! It's just like home in East Portland!" After riding my bike all over the city, it really doesn't seem that bad to me. And besides, I believe that if there is something wrong with a neighborhood, you need to be the change you want to see there (I think that's a quote from somebody famous). I talked to Jen about it and we both like the idea of living in an area where we can be a positive influence, rather than just fleeing to live where nobody is struggling to get by. After just a week of being here, it seems to me that there is a great need in this city. There is a need for unity and integration between neighborhoods and communities. I really hope to help Ontario as a teacher and now as a resident.

My loving wife showed her complete dedication to me by being willing to move across the entire state, away from friends and family to a small town where we know absolutely no one. It has been very difficult being away from her and Nolan, but thankfully due to the internet and the new Google+ Hangouts (see pic), Jen's beautiful smile and Nolan's adorable noises are just a few clicks away on video chat. They will be joining me in just a couple short weeks, and Portland will be in our rear view mirror.

I believe we have a great opportunity to make a difference in the city of Ontario. There are many people here that are hurting, and I hope that God will use the Riedl family in a way that pleases Him.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

S-A-H D Lesson #8

Stay-At-Home Dad Lesson #8: I'm done.

I have learned a lot from being at home with Nolan. Living the stay-at-home life for a parent has been an eye-opening experience.

I'm done staying at home full-time. I accepted a job as a math teacher (more details in the next post), and Jen will finally be able to do what she has been wanting to do for a long, long time... to be a stay-at-home mom!

Fitting into our roles is something we have been looking forward to for years. I have always wanted to be the breadwinner of the family, and she has always want to stay at home with our child(ren). It has been very rewarding for me to take care of Nolan as he has grown from a 2-month old when I started caring for him full-time, to a super-crawling 8-month old. I have learned many lessons and I'm glad you were able to read along with me on my journey. I certainly believe that I have a new perspective on what it is like to stay home raising a little human being. The struggles, joys, hardships, and laughter has given me insight about how Jen will be feeling when she begins the same journey.

Below is a quick summary of all of my stay-at-home dad lessons and what I hope to do in my role as a full-time working parent:

Lesson #7: Baby Einstein is ridiculous.

  • I plan to spend time with Nolan and play with him, even when I have lots of grading to do at home.

Lesson #6: You learn as you go.

  • I plan to be patient with Jen, because I know that she will care for Nolan differently than I did.

Lesson #5: I need a kiss when you get home.

  • I plan to kiss Jen immediately (and passionately, haha) when I get home from work.

Lesson #4: The fruit of this labor does not blossom immediately.

  • I plan to thank Jen for the hard work she does as often as possible.

Lesson #3: Some days, you just don't feel like taking a shower.

  • I plan to tell Jen that she is beautiful. She is beautiful no matter if she has showered or not.

Lesson #2: I need to get out of the house!

  • I plan to give Jen opportunities to spend time by herself, with friends, or with us outside our home.

Lesson #1: When your baby is sleeping, do chores as fast as humanly possible!

  • I plan to help her with chores around the house as much as I can.

I love you Jen, and I respect you for wanting to stay home with our son. It is admirable, humbling, and exhausting work. I praise God for providing me with a partner who wants the very best for our children, just like I do. You are my Pookie. ;-)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

S-A-H D Lesson #7

Stay-At-Home Dad Lesson #7: Baby Einstein is ridiculous.

We borrowed a Baby Einstein DVD from the library, popped it in, stuck Nolan in front of the TV, and watched what would happen.

We were stunned.

It was mesmerizing! It was beautiful! It was........ ridiculous.

On the DVD we watched, it was just normal everyday stuff moving around to some classical music. I listed some examples of what I saw on the screen below.

I saw...

  • A toy turning around in circles.
  • A flashing light glimmering off a shiny object.
  • A little train going around a track.
  • Liquid dripping out of a bottle.
  • Hand puppets moving across the screen.
  • A girl playing a toy piano.
  • A girl playing a toy saxophone.
  • A girl playing a toy drum.
  • Balls rolling across the screen.
  • An adult hand stacking blocks.
  • Plastic toys spinning around.

All of these scenes were simple, basic, normal things that I could have done with everyday objects right in front of him. Baby Einstein is nothing special. It's just typical, everyday stuff.

I understand there are some situations where just putting your kid in front of the TV for a long period of time would be helpful, but I know that some people actually consistently show these DVDs to their babies because they think it will make them smarter. Ridiculous.

All you need to do is spend time with your child, play with them, and show them interesting things that they have never seen before. Develop a relationship with your child. Get to know them. Find out what they like. Take a variety of objects in your home and show it to your child so they learn about the world. Have them touch it, put it in their mouth, and discover new things around them. All these will do wonders for their future.

Monday, August 8, 2011

S-A-H D Lesson #6

Stay-At-Home Dad Lesson #6: You learn as you go.

When I first started taking care of Nolan several months ago, he was about 2 months old. I barely had time to do anything for myself. At that time, I thought it was crazy how some parents are able to take care of twins, or even children at different ages...and don't get me started about how on Earth someone could possibly take care of sextuplets or some insane fertility accident. How exhausting!

If you had a newborn and a 2-year old, for example, how would you get the baby to sleep when the terrible two-year old is screaming or misbehaving or going psycho? I know you would try to do nap time at the same time, but how could you do that in a small apartment? They certainly couldn't share the same room, could they?

That's what I used to think about. But now, I see that you learn to be more efficient as time goes on. Nolan is our first child, and this is obviously my first time taking care of a baby full-time. It makes sense now, looking back on the last few months, that I have become more efficient and smarter with how I schedule a daily routine. Likewise, it makes sense that you would also learn as you go when it comes to multiple children. Thankfully, I have had the help from a lovely wife to answer my questions, as well as help from the wonderful internet, family, and friends.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

S-A-H D Lesson #5

Stay-At-Home Dad Lesson #5: I need a kiss when you get home.

I am alone with a crabby baby all day. I need to know that my hard work is appreciated. The best way that I feel like my bringing-home-the-bacon-breadwinner-of-a-wife is thankful for me is when she comes home and kisses me before she does anything else.
Old photo from 2009 surfing trip

I heard once somewhere, maybe a college course, that one of the best ways to succeed in having a quality marriage is by making sure to kiss each other when you see each other after work. I think that is so true. It certainly helps with me. I am much more loving and serving to my wife when she shows me that she appreciates me through a simple kiss. Even if I had a bad day, it can all turn around when I know my wife wants to kiss me.

This is something I really need to remember when I am the breadwinner again (someday) and she stays home. I need to remember that the rest of the evening when I get home from work depends on my first few actions when I come home.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

S-A-H D Lesson #4

Stay-At-Home Dad Lesson #4: The fruit of this labor does not blossom immediately.

I like to be productive. I like to see results right away. When I am used to that type of work, it is difficult for me to be a stay-at-home dad.

When someone stays at home to raise a child, it takes a lot of labor. That is obvious. Taking care of children is a lot of work. However, the fruit of that labor is not immediate. It takes many years to see the fruit of good parenting.

My cranky baby boy
The funny thing is, it also takes many years to see the bad fruit of bad parenting. Once the child realizes that they have choices and decisions to make in their lives, they decide to disobey the parent(s). All of these years of laboring to take care of your child is thankless work. Thankless work that does not pay off until they are older.

Jen is much better at this type of work than me. I get bored with changing diapers and having my son scream into my ear when I am trying to get him to sleep. But I know it will pay off in the end. I do it because I have to love him in that way. I don't know how Jen can find so much joy out of those thankless chores, but I am just glad that she fits into that role with joy in her heart.