I've been gone from this space for several weeks tending to the birth of our daughter, Cecily Harper Parkhouse, who was born on Christmas Day.
As I said earlier in 2015, she's our first child and one we've waited a very long time for. It's a time of overwhelming joy in our house, as you might be able to imagine.
Since there isn't much else on my mind these days other than her, it seemed obvious that my first column back should have something to do with her. So, then, here are some promises, hopes, wishes, thoughts, etc. as my first-born daughter emerges into the world.
I hope you know how loved, wanted and anticipated you were. Mommy and Daddy fought hard to bring you into this world, and we'll fight hard to make sure you have the best life possible.
I promise to always do my best and operate in your best interest. So far, I'm really struggling with rebuttoning the sleepers during diaper changes (those things are really tricky), but I will get better. Hopefully.
I promise to turn you into a Cubs fan. Rooting for the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks is more organic as you have less choices. But I won't subject you to a life of rooting for the South Siders. We're gonna do this right, sweet girl. This may not seem like the most important thing in the world, but trust me. It's right up there.
That said, I generally vow to let you forge your own path. Never will you have something imposed on you that is outside of what you want to do. The world is yours, and you can do with it what you please - except root for the White Sox. That is not an option. While we're on the subject, no Packers, either.
Don't be afraid to trust people. At the same time, don't be afraid to cut those out of your life who violate that trust.
Have fun. Always.
People will tell you not to listen to the "haters." On the contrary, listen. Absorb. Sift through the garbage and, if there's something there that helps you be a better you, learn from it. Life isn't all rainbows and unicorns. There are bad things and bad people, but really important lessons come from everywhere.
Through all of the learning you'll do, both in a classroom and outside of one, remember this undeniable fact: Common sense is your best friend.
Because I wish someone had told me: There's no amount of classroom work that can substitute for real-life experience. It's invaluable.
Be the life of the party, but also understand when it's someone else's turn.
Best career advice I ever received: Figure out what you love to do, then figure out how to make money doing it.
Lastly, I promise Mommy and Daddy will always protect you, while letting you be free at the same time. You'll have the freedom to do what needs doing, but we'll always have your back, wherever you are or wherever you go, whoever you encounter along the way.
Now, get out in that world and rock it. You know, as soon as you get that walking thing down.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at email@example.com or 1-219-214-4170.