Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh Baby!

There are few things in life that set off an emotional response. Smells for instance. They can bring back memories of family gatherings, experiences, times in your life when your senses were so heightened that you noticed every detail about that second in time. That's amazing, I think that we can take the information that our senses offer us and it can create such an elated feeling. There are some smells that just get you more than others: cookies or bread baking in the oven, the pine of a Christmas tree, a turkey roasting in the oven on Thanksgiving Day. There are some smells that remind us of bad times as well. I still can't smell SoCo without wanting to retch after partaking in it a little too much while in college on an infamous New Year's Eve. After buying the Swagger Wagon earlier this year I thought that nothing could top "New Car Smell" even though I know it is mostly because of all the plastics in the manufacturing of the car. But here's the thing...nothing beats the smell of a new baby. Maybe it's the heightened emotion that you are feeling when you finally get to see them or the anticipation of the person they will become but when you couple that with the sweet smell of them, it just can't be matched. I wish they could bottle this stuff but they can't, I looked. They have plenty of new car air fresheners, pine, even Drakkar Noir but they just can't reproduce that fresh baby scent. If you don't know already I am on this new baby kick because of our new addition, Heidi Elizabeth. It's been awhile since we've had an infant and there is no way to describe how it feels until you have one. So, I will enjoy the new baby smell and look forward to the new year with plenty of opportunities to blog about being a stay at home dad with three kids. George Lucas would be proud, I finished my Trilogy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Princess Pack Rat

My daughter is a pack rat, literally. Have you ever seen the nest of a pack rat? These little creatures find interesting things to bring back to their nesting area. When they do find something that interests them, if somewhere along the way they find something better, they will trade one object for the other one.

The pack rat and my daughter also have another commonality, they both love shiny objects. My son used to do this too. He would find things that interested him and he would put them inside something. Sometimes it was an envelope but most often it was a bag. He did this so much that my wife and I bought a little canvas bag and glitter painted his name on it so he could carry his things in it. Yes, I am admitting that my son carried a murse. In his defense, he carried his Bob the Builder hammer and screwdriver in it, so at least there is that. Eventually he grew out of it and like any man’s coat including my own, I will find interesting things in his pockets.

My daughter on the other hand finds any bag she can fit stuff inside and fill it with crazy things. Here are the contents of one I found earlier: a pair of her socks, a beaded necklace, Strawberry Shortcake figure, a used up sticker, a rock, Chapstick, and a crayon. Let’s face it, she is just pre-programmed to be a gatherer. It’s not like I walk around with bags and fill it with things. She just has this obsession with building a mini collection in a bag. And then it dawned on me, she is preparing herself for later in life when she will carry a purse! I am old enough to know that a woman’s purse is a sacred place. My first experiences with the depth (literally) of a woman’s purse were with my grandmother’s pocketbook as she called it and my own mom’s purse. Sometimes these things were humongous and I wondered how anyone could find anything inside these giant collection bags. Sometimes the most dreaded question was “Honey, could you get (blank) out of my purse?”

Of course we could never find it and when we brought the purse to them, they would procure said item in a wink shake their heads saying “How could you not see that, it was right there?” First, it is because you ladies are good at cataloguing things and secondly, we just don't see things. I bet right now you could mentally imagine what your purse looks like inside and know where you usually put your lipstick, cell phone, or wallet. I can barely remember what I had for lunch.

When I taught high school some teenage boys tried messing with a girl's purse. They literally almost lost their hands like a thief in Agrabah. It is AMAZING the things they carry. Carrying a bag for a man is like writing a check anywhere. It’s just not manly. Sure bags have tried to cross over to men. The fanny pack is a reminder of that but bags for dudes are just not cool. I will be the first to admit that my winter coat and any coat I own has more pockets than months on a calendar. In fact, I won't buy a coat unless it has a ridiculous number of pockets.

Guys don't have anywhere to put their stuff and if we had stuff we wouldn't want to carry it with us anyway unless it was concealed by hidden pockets. Cargo shorts are a definite staple of a Stay At Home Dad. Covert pockets can carry stuff and as a stay at home dad I am required to carry stuff. Not only that but hidden pockets help us pretend we are spies as cool as 007 and Get Smart.

As for my daughter, she continues to collect things and deposit them inside other things. It is amazing how far this obsession has gone. She received a Disney Princess pop up play tent for her third birthday this year which was awesome. The scary thing is that the inside looks like an episode of Hoarders but only if there was a kid version of that show. Going in the Princess tent means you could be buried alive by tiaras, Barbies, and play food. So for now, I have to pretend I am Neicy Nash and every couple of weeks need to Clean House. The next time I lose my keys I know where I am looking first; the princess tent is the number one suspect and my own coat is number two.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gettin' Jiggy

My wife is right. I would be remiss to say that she isn't always right. I have had my moments but in this case she is 100 percent on target. The NFL needs to take away penalties for excessive celebration. Today's sports hinge on entertainment. The NFL is doing better job protecting players from getting concussions from big hits yet they are doing these athletes a disservice by limiting their need to celebrate the big play. I T.O. and Ochocinco sit around bouncing celebration ideas off one another? Could there be a reality show just about touchdown celebrations? I'm sorry, your Dirty Bird just didn't score with us...hit the shower! I think it takes real creativity to come up with this stuff. T.O.'s Sharpie marker, the invisible mooning, pretending the football is a baby...those are all genius! May I even go so far as to say that this celebration thing should be taught in public school? I would love to go to my son's parent-teacher conference, find out he is doing well and perform the Ickey Shuffle. Think of all those moments where a celebratory dance could come in handy: Your kid just learned to use the potty for the first time so do the Moonwalk. Your baby just slept through the night so it is time to do the Worm. Your daughter just took her first steps...time to get jiggy wit it! It just makes sense. We have reasons to celebrate. Athletes have reasons to celebrate. Let's make the NFL fun again and make our lives a little more fun. So when my son gets straight A’s and you see a really tall guy doing the Lawnmower or the Sprinkler, just go with it and bring your Cabbage Patch moves with you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Final Countdown

I have to admit, I am one of those parents who snickers at certain things. I know that everyone has a different style of parenting. What works for you might not work for me. I have restrained myself in saying something to people in the grocery store because I know it is not my place. But my blog I guess is my platform for speaking my mind. For instance, I HATE, HATE, HATE...the countdown. As in, if you don't put those scissors down in three seconds you are going to be in big trouble, mister! I don't know who came up with "the countdown" but I have seen so many kids push the countdown to the limit. If I were a kid now and my mom started to do the countdown I would know that I have 2 minutes and 45 seconds to continue to do whatever I was doing before that infernal countdown started. Let's be honest, the 3 seconds really should be shortened to one second. This is not baseball and I am not giving you a three strikes chance to cut off your sister's hair. Time is precious especially if you have a toddler who is impulsive. Let's put this in perspective with a real life situation. Let's say you are a police officer who just foiled a bank robber. Your gun is drawn and there is a standoff between you and the bad guy. Are you going to A. Tell him to put the gun down or you will shoot OR B. If you don't put the gun down in three seconds you are going to be in BIG TROUBLE? If SuperNanny has taught me anything you have to give the kid a warning. That is, one warning. If they do it again then they are done. I mean, that's the way the real world works right? We don't have magic Twix bars that will let us stop time to think over how we should respond to the situation. You can apply this to any situation in your daily life. Let's say a scenario for Human Resources; Joe, if you don't stop sexually harassing Laura in 3, 2, 1, you will be put in timeout young man. It just seems silly doesn't it? Don't give your kids the chance to continue the behavior. Warn them of the consequences and if they do it again, you have my permission to shock and awe them. By shock and awe, I mean timeout. A minute for every year old they are, in isolation from any toy distractions, and don't listen to the sobs. It's hard to listen to but necessary. Eventually they will get it and all those seconds you spent counting down you can have back to yourself for a nice cup of coffee. The countdown needs to go people. Let's let NASA and rock and roll bands have that one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hairy Situation

I am about to have two little girls on my hands and I realize that there is a steep learning curve for caring for a little girl. When it comes to styling girl’s hair I don’t know a barrette from a baguette. Sure, I have watched enough Project Runway to know that styling can throw off a whole outfit. That doesn’t alleviate my concerns. I have to count myself lucky that I don’t have Michael Kors telling me my little girl looks like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket or give me a vague reference to some character from a show tune because clearly I have no idea what I am doing. My wife even bought my daughter a shirt that says “Daddy does my hair” It’s funny mostly because we know that I don’t know hair. I mean, look at me; I don’t have a lot of experience with hair. I only really had control of it from 87-2007. The Chicago Bears had more quarterbacks in that time span that I had hairs on my head at the end of my run. I used to have hair which is hard for people to believe but when I lost the Battle of the Forehead in 2007, I decided it was time for it all to go. While it is true that back in the day I had so much hair that I had to cement it down with Dep just to keep it in check, I just don’t know what to do with my daughter’s hair. She has this curly mop of hair on her head which is not long enough to style and I am pretty sure you can barely put bows in it without them falling off. She’s like a wild version of Annie with curls going all different places…a beautiful Medusa and I am thinking that eventually my lack of knowledge is going to catch up with me someday. So in the meantime, I will try and take notes on what other parents are doing. To the best of my ability, I will arm myself with brushes and tangle free spray and practice on my daughter’s dolls in the meantime. As for me, I have saved a lot of money on combs and Dep which I used to buy by the barrel. I suppose it is time for me to throw away the hairspray I used in college. This time around with girl number two I will enjoy our common haircut while I can provided she is born with a bald head. I guess I have until those hairs combine into a common hairstyle to brush up on my styling.

Sunday, October 3, 2010 and

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Played Out

With fall approaching and the daunting thought of winter in Rochester I have to address something that relates to my earlier post, those endless days of play. While you are happy that school has started just remember, there will be many days ahead where you are going to be inside. For those of you whose kids are in all day kindergarten I say “You lucky ducky” Your kids are wiped when they come home because they are all played out. Sure, staying at home means that you are safe and that a potty is mere steps away but staying inside too much can be just as deadly. Turning to Facebook or working on the blog is how I deal. My kids ask me why I always play that game on the computer. It’s because if I play Star Wars one more time or have to pretend I am going skinny dipping by taking all the dresses of Sarah’s Barbies in the royal pool at Belle’s palace I am going to lose it. I don’t know how I got this way. Willie Pacer and I used to play Star Wars in his backyard with his state of the art Han Solo blaster and he always made me Chewbacca because I was the tallest kid in class. My brother and I used to play G.I. Joes endlessly, Star Wars, He-Man etc., it was just too awesome. I guess I am just all played out. Or maybe it is because Adam won’t let me control Man-At-Arms like I want to and he imposes all these rules about how none of his guys can get hurt in anyway. Conflict! We need some sort of conflict over here! I don’t know about anyone else’s kids act but mine crave constant attention. Adam was always needy from the get go. Maybe I fed into that because I was so excited about playing with him. I used to think, “How can parents not want to get down on the floor and play with these cute kids?” Now, I am fully aware of why. Playing is their exercise and this is what they love to do. Now, while they are playing we are following close behind. We make sure they share, that no toys are left behind, that sand is not “accidentally” being kicked in some kid’s face. Now that’s work. For the first five or six years of their life all they do is play. Think of puppies or kittens and how their exuberance can get them into trouble, kids are a reflection of the endless energy that even animals have. At the Brookfield Zoo I always noticed lion cubs. Boy, they do not give up; jumping on the Daddy Lion, biting his ears, playing with his tail while he tried to take a cat nap. Dude, I can now relate. I am sorry if I ever referred to you as “that lazy butt lion”, I get it, I really do and I am sorry. I respect you Mr. Lion and I hope you get that nap in there while your kids jump on your nether regions. I had a friend whose job was being a toy tester. All she did all day was play with toys and assess their value. How cool is that? But, when I asked her how I would get a job like that she would say “Trust me, you don’t want this job. It gets old.” I guess that could be true. Seems like we all get played out but for me I need to find another set of Energizers aka. coffee, and forge ahead. I have to run. I have a tea party to attend to at Castle Greyskull with Strawberry Shortcake.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Clash was right, this question is essential to staying at home with the kids. On one hand, leaving the house means that you can have wild adventures, lasting memories of shared experiences, and excitement beyond your wildest imagination. On the other hand, you have to deal with their BS.

 I know that the kids appreciate it when I take them to The Sandbox, The Strong Museum, Kango, Bounce It Out etc. But seriously, it is a major undertaking. First of all, you have to plan an hour ahead of time what you will be bringing. I liken it to Rambo getting prepared for battle. I mean, you physically are wearing a bandolier of bottles, sippy cups, diapers, wipes and whatever other stuff you are carrying just to keep them happy. I still have not found a diaper bag that makes it seem like I am not carrying a monster purse with me. It’s either that, or I am wearing a backpack that looks like I am off to Kilimanjaro.

Secondly, those places are havens for germs. I don’t know how often they go through and wipe down everything. I have never physically seen it but I know when I used to work at Discovery Zone we cleaned as needed and stayed late once a week to disinfect the ball bin. I always enjoyed the announcement over the loundspeaker: “Attention, Zone Manager Chris, we have a CODE BROWN in tunnel number 5” Gross. Take it from me ball bins are disgusting but lucrative. I would find keys, money, cell phones, rings, and just about anything you would keep in your wallet. If the kids could convince their parents to crawl around in there it meant that this teenager could afford Burrito Loco that night.

Every time my kids see a McDonald’s PlayPlace I shudder because they want to go in there. The McD’s on Monroe in Pittsford needs to be shut down by the EPA. I am afraid to even put my elbows on the tables without my skin being buffered by a wipe barrier. Staying at home has its privileges. I know what is expected. I know what is possible. I know what is clean. I have a time out chair readily available and they can’t run too far without being contained.

At these play places especially if you have two, you know they have the tendency to disappear. So here’s a pop quiz hotshot. Who are you going to go after when they both run different directions? Huh? Huh? I never go without a play place buddy. The buddy system really does work. My friend once went to the Strong. His daughter was 2 and his son was still in the stroller. He was hindered by the stroller and she took off amongst the catacombs of Adventureland. If you are tall, you know that this area is not good for backs or heads and only little people or Smurfs can really fit in there. Not only that but you get that panic feeling when you can’t see them anymore. Luckily she was rounded up by a docent with a walkie-talkie who asked him if she was his child and then reported in said walkie-talkie “Cancel that, we found the dad” That’s a terrible feeling. So should you stay or should you go? You need to find a balance. But take my advice, bring a buddy, tag your child with a GPS tracker, and then let them loose in the wild. You never know what is going to happen and that could be good depending on how long you have been inside the house.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Your Shortie's Shortcomings

Adam had T-Ball this summer. They play T-Ball when they are 3-4 years old. Kids start baseball when they are 5 here! Five? It doesn't seem fair. Most of them can't throw with any consistency, or catch with any consistency, or know WHERE to throw it when the ball comes to them. A baseball to a T-Ball team might as well be a football because if the ball is rolling that means every kid on that team is diving on the ball. With everyone diving on the ball, there is no one to cover 1st base, 2nd base, or any base. It's hard to watch your kids in these situations because you desperately want them to be the next Strasburg or the second coming of Ken Griffey Junior. I watched my boy talk to other players, pick weeds in the grass (his dad despises weeds) and proceed to wear his glove as a hat while he tried to catch the ball with his hat! I wanted him to belt the ball off the tee like we had practiced all summer only to watch him put his left hand on top and stand on the right side of the plate (he's a righty). Thank goodness for do overs!

Adam's coach was an awesome guy who definitely knew how to teach little kids. Teach them the fundamentals and bring your extra patience. It's hard to believe that I was once this terrible. There is no sugar coating it, they just have to learn the hard way...with their coach yelling at them to leave the four leaf clovers alone in the outfield and pay attention. So good luck out there moms and dads. Teaching your kid a sport is hard work. Eventually it will pay off like the Mr. Pibb at the end of the game or that time I hit my first home run off Yung Jip Kim and watched the ball land on the tennis court, I can't wait for that day for my boy. Until then I will leave you with this: The 1982 World Series Little League coach once told his players "Don't even bring your glove tomorrow because all we are going to do is run"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Unfriendly Dogs

Have you ever found yourself being checked out, but not in the usual good way? Sometimes I go to these indoor play places and I feel like the women that are there with their kids are looking me over. Sometimes it feels like more than just a casual glance and for me it sometimes feels like they are wondering if I am some kind of predator. It’s not like I walked in alone and sat down on a chair and started watching kids. As it turns out, I am actually here with my kids and with no other motive but to play with my kids and watch them have fun, just as you are. I’m not alone in this phenomenon as I am sure many of you SAHDs are too. My friend, who just moved here from NYC, said that it is like you are a new dog in a neighborhood full of unfriendly dogs; each one you meet seems to approach you with wild barks instead of friendly wags and who can get close to that? I have experienced this in the grocery store where people have asked questions like “So do you have the day off today?” Another favorite is “Did you give your wife the day off so you could go grocery shopping?” (Yes, we all know how much I LOVE to do that) Just today, a woman said to my new dad in charge friend and me: “So are the two of you teachers?” My friend had never experienced that question and maybe it is because he is new to it or maybe it’s because these people don’t know many SAHDs. The assumption was that because we are guys and we are spending the morning with our kids we must have a job that allows us to do so. Therefore, we must be teachers. I get it. Not many guys do this or can afford to or even want to but I wish that the first question would be, “So do you stay at home too?” If that happened then my tail would definitely wag.

P.S. Thanks T.M. for the material. We had an awesome time today.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Potty Training for Girls

When Adam was in day care we didn't have to do the hard work of potty training. The only thing we were responsible for was reinforcing what he was learning at daycare. Now, it is my turn to potty train Sarah. Every time I check in Sarah at the YMCA they ask me "Is she potty trained yet?" Man, that feels like a punch in the gut. No, I sheepishly say. So I research this potty training thing, got her a potty video and book from the library, talk endlessly about the potty, bought the pull ups with the princesses on them, and got a book entitled "Princess Potty". I felt I was ready. However, it seems like every time I go to put her on the potty, she has already gone. Rats! I cannot stress enough how you are not supposed to go in the pull up Sarah. So I do more research, and BabyCenter tells me that kids learn by imitation. It says Let your child watch you and they will learn how it is done. So my question is...does the stay at home dad have to sit down and pee for his daughter to learn from him how to use the potty? I guess this is one of the areas that a stay at home mommy can better address. BabyCenter also suggests that if this is a problem and she wants to try peeing standing up like her Daddy and older brother, let her and eventually she will figure out that it is much easier to sit. Have they met my Sarah? Once she figures out that peeing standing up will make Adam laugh hysterically, it will be all over. Well, gotta go!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Swagger Wagon

I am headed this way, with our third baby on the way. Goodbye SUV, hello Swagger Wagon

The Dad Life

When I find Dad videos, I have to repost them. This is brought to you by COTM (Church on the Move) Mad Skills, Dads.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Scream

Why is it that my daughter's response to any hardship is a piercing squeal? My son does not do this. I have only witnessed it in girls. From another room this sound could mean that A) She is running around and having fun with my older son B) My older son just did something to tick her off C) She just cut off a limb. See the dilemma? You can’t rush into the room every five minutes looking panicked only to find that she is actually having fun and that the squeal was one of delight. If you do this most likely she has spotted you and now you will have to play with her when she was perfectly fine using her own imagination only moments ago. You can’t go back. Trying to convince your kids to “Resume play, nothing to see here” is really hard. I have literally pulled up, tried to hide behind a scratching post made for cats, and tried to Scooby Doo walk (a slow backwards walk as to not attract attention) out of the room before she spied me. It has to be genetic. Maybe it is based on female hormones but I supposed it is one that carries on later in life. Go to a concert and guys are screaming “woo” , “yeah” and probably some expletives. Women however, are screaming at the top of their lungs…that long piercing “Woooooooo” that seems to go on forever. Clearly it is to get attention, but I thought women are better with words than guys are. I Googled “Why do girls scream so much?” and I found that women said that they scream as a release for some anxiety they have faced. They scream when they are proposed to, they scream when a huge spider is in the bathroom, they scream when they are reunited with long lost girl friends or if their sister borrowed their favorite jeans and ruined them. Basically, anything is scream-worthy. So for now, I guess I just have to screen the screams. Maybe one day I will know if it is a good or bad scream. Now, I have a hankering for some ice cream.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all my peeps out there, keeping it real and taking care of the kids like real men should.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Silly is a silly word

Silly is the silliest word. When you are trying to edit your content in front of the kiddies I always go with words like silly and goofball. When you really look at the word silly it is obvious that silly can be such a universal term. When your kids do the most messed up things what you really want to say is “What the …… were you thinking?” But for most of us stay at home parents we shouldn’t be dropping any letter bombs around our kids unless we want them using that word on us and every other kid in their class. So what do we use instead? We say: You are so silly! Silly really is a word that you can plug into any conversation. Can you imagine going to a meeting with corporate to talk about how inept your boss is and just blurting out “Oh, he’s just so silly!” instead of “He’s a brainless, incompetent manager who sucks at motivating people.”
One of my other favorites is goofball. I call my 5 year old a goofball at least ten times a day not only because he is, but because I have other choice words that I know I shouldn’t express. When you go to a birthday party and there is one kid there that is so hopped up on birthday cake that he is throwing bows into any kid in his vicinity you say “Boy, your kid is so silly” instead of saying “Can you corral your troublemaker because he has concussed half of the kids at this party ?” That’s so silly that we say that. Another favorite of mine is “your daughter is so spirited” which in layman’s terms means “your daughter is out of freakin’ control!” So the next time someone drops the S bomb about your kid think of some choice words to use maybe even call them a goofball.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We just don't have the chops for it

While on vacation Sarah was wearing a fluffy tutu. You know the kind that teenagers wear now, the ones that seem to be in fashion? Sarah loves to dress up like a princess. My daily routine involves trying to find something that is comparable enough to sidestep the ball gown she insists on wearing. Ball gowns are not so good for climbing yet she is determined to show me that a princess can deftly maneuver intricate death traps on playground equipment to justify wearing it.

Anyways, these kinds of clothes, maybe made famous by a character on Sex in the City (my wife watched it, OK?) draws attention to itself. "Oh she is so cute!" or "I love your beautiful ball gown!" It's this kind of attention that got my 5 year old boy wondering, and he asks me "How come everyone talks about Sarah and never me?" It's true that it is hard to resist the princess and her vast array of wardrobe changes but I felt I had to level with Adam. Truth is buddy, guys clothes are boring. What do guys have? Plaid, stripes, solids. That's it. Three choices. Maybe that is why I love to wear T-shirts so much. At least they have the potential to express themselves. Hmmm, should I wear this plaid with this khaki, or this stripe with this cargo? Ladies, you have infinite possibilities, which makes it harder to pick but at least you HAVE choices. Look at a catalog that sells woman's clothes versus men. Eddie Bauer gives three quarters to the women, then come luggage, THEN come the men section. Plaid, stripes, solids. Sometimes when i am getting dressed I feel like Fred Flintstone. Odds are, I am going to be wearing a plaid, a stripe, or a solid. I am not asking for Ed Hardy ridiculousness, just something different. I am not talking different like Hawaiian shirt either. It's not like I am going to St. Lucia again anytime soon, so let's look at what we do have.

Little boys clothes are just as lame. Once you get past the infant walking stage, when they start expressing their opinions about what is "cute" you get severely limited. If you grew up in the 90's you probably owned a pair of overalls. You know, the kind that you wore one strap up and the other off? Who came up with that idea? I always liked overalls but for kids they are just a disaster. Especially when they give you that special blowout poop present that comes all the way out the top of the diaper. After that, for boys, it is either vehicles, superheroes, or something dirt related. So I guess they prepare us early in life. It's the toddler's version of plaids, stripes, solids. Take a walk into a Carter's and look around, it is just like walking into any store. Color explosion on the girls' side like a rainbow threw up in there and mostly neutrals with splashes of primary and secondary color on the boy's side.

So, back to my son's predicament. My brother in law tried to explain; he spoke from experience what it was like to have a younger sister who stole the spotlight. The best we could come up with was that bigger is better and that he could do things that the younger sister couldn't do. Little consolation for his lack of "cute" eye catching wardrobe choices. I guess he will have to suck it up and look forward to plaids, stripes, and solids instead.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No, your OTHER right!

I need to just vent here for a moment about an issue that seems to plague toddlers and their parents. How come kids can't figure out which shoe belongs on the correct foot? I have tried this just to make sure I wasn't crazy. I don't know how my kids can go almost an entire day with shoes on the wrong feet. Not only that but you don't want to be the parent that just doesn't care that your kid is walking is circles because they don't have the dexterity to turn against the grain. I am not sure if it is because my feet are long and resemble mini trees but it just wasn't comfortable!

I am thinking that if dogs can be trained to stay within boundaries like with Invisible Fence, my kids can be trained to put their shoes on the right (I mean correct) feet. So, I propose a mild shock that reacts with programmable socks to gently remind them. It's either that, or temporary feet tattoos and matching stickers for the bottom of their shoes. They love those memory games so what would be better "I can do it" moment than actually getting their shoes on the correct feet?

This would simplify 25% of my time. Not only do they get the incorrect feet constantly but then the simple shift from one foot to another takes a ridiculous amount of time. I think it is just one of those things that kids just think is hilarious. For example, Sarah, this is on the wrong foot, it goes on this foot (then she gives me the same foot) No, honey the OTHER foot. This is your left, it goes in this shoe, no not that shoe, that's the shoe I just took off... Sometimes I feel like with shoes I am part of an Abbott and Costello bit. Whose foot goes on left? Left is Right. Right is correct.

Monday, April 26, 2010

If you don't have anything nice to say....

This entry is dedicated to all the moms and dads out there that have to go grocery shopping. I can't even begin to express my displeasure of this chore. I think it all started when I worked for Peapod. So, I will do a flashback here.

I was a personal shopper mostly because at the time I was thinking how easy a job would it be to pick things off a list for someone that is too lazy or unable to do it themselves? The only drawback was that some patrons REFUSED to allow substitutes. People are loyal to a certain brand, I get that. But in this particular instance, I was a post college 20-something responsible for picking out feminine products for an old lady. Let's see, the ticket read: Always Maxi Pads, Fresh Scent with Moisture Block, Dry Weave, size Large. I wasn't even sure what all that meant but I did know that it meant trouble. I went to the feminine products area which really was an entire wall and tried to find this product. Sometimes they had Fresh Scent sometimes Tropical Breeze (Tropical Breeze? I guess if you need a Tropical Breeze down there you have bigger issues) but never in the same combination as the ticket. So since I couldn't find the exact product I had to call this woman and explain why I couldn't get it for her and give the other 25 different combinations I could find. Long story short, is that everyone knows this frustration and if you are looking for something in particular you definitely won't find it. Especially when you only have an hour window with two kids in tow.

Now if you are going to the grocery store with kids I give you even more kudos. So, someone at the grocery store actually asked me the other day when I went there without the kids. "How do you like shopping without your little helpers?" My little helpers? Clearly lady, you weren't with me when I HAD to bring them along. I freakin' LOVE shopping for groceries without them and here is why. I don't have to use the ridiculously long cart with the steering wheels which if you have had to use in a crowded Wegman's is like driving a 16 wheeler through a retirement home. I don't have to bribe them with cookies to keep them occupied. Wegman's, I know I am only supposed to take one cookie per child but one little cookie isn't going to last me 20 minutes in this joint. I don't have to use the double wide checkout lane (although I usually do because the cart can barely fit in there) to prevent little hands from grabbing every candy bar on the shelf and asking me if they can have it.

My final point is that people need to learn control when commenting on your parenting while in a store. My kids think wide open spaces and brightly lit stores mean they are at some indoor play place and they act accordingly running like I have left them caged up in the basement. Comments I have heard before are "Boy, you have your hands full with those two" or "I remember how difficult it was for me" People, please there is no need to comment in this way. It's kind of like when someone tells you "You look tired" which basically translates into "You look like spit" It may seem like a nice way to mention that I have bags under my eyes but really, it isn't helping. I look tired because I am probably tired and I would rather you say "You are doing a great job with your kids" or "You look like a great dad/mom" If you truly remember what it was like to stay at home with the kids then you know that it is not easy and a little encouragement goes a long way and if you don't we might accidentally run you over with our 16 wheeler.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leave no man (or child) behind

So, I start thinking about what three is going to mean and I realize that I only have two hands to hold. Holding a baby carrier in one hand and Sarah’s hand in the other means that Adam will have to walk ALONE, in the parking lot, with cars all around! I mean, I will be there but I have spent most of his life protecting him from unseen dangers and trying to predict others wild behaviors to prevent said injury. I was at the Y the other day and saw one of the moms that I regularly see there with her gaggle. She has three or four but I noticed that some kids were just left behind. I felt like I was watching an old war movie like Platoon when William Dafoe is running in slow-mo from the enemy to the chopper and the jungle is exploding all around him and they cue that sad music. I guess that at some point you have to let the baby birds fly but dude, that is scary. That also means that the car that I love, our Mitsubishi Endeavor, is going bye-bye and that the swagger wagon is on the horizon. The mini-van is an eventuality but with the addition of a third baby means that a Trifecta of car seats is not going to happen in our second row. I am convinced that this swagger-wagon advertising with the bald guy is aimed directly at me.

And now, the positives because what kind of stay at home dad would I be if I didn’t focus on the upside? One more kid means one more kid to love, one more kid to watch grow. It also means that my time as a stay at home dad is definitely extended. I am like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption in that I am close to parole and wondering if I can go back and re-enter society without a hitch. To go back through and experience what it is like to care for a baby again would be a ride for sure. But one that I am willing to take provided I still get to go to a picnic every once in awhile.

Monday, April 19, 2010


We have two beautiful kids ages 5 and 2 1/2 at this point. I say this point because there has been the question of whether we would have another one. Adam was so easy going. He was around babies at day care so was always so gentle. When Sarah came along he was so sweet to her and still to this day is pretty good despite the occasional big brother agitation that comes with the territory. Sarah, on the other hand, HATES babies. It’s not that irrational fear that she is going to be mean to the baby and stick her fingers in the baby’s eyes but that real fear that I have witnessed in person around kids that are younger than her. Truth be told, a two year old LOVES their personal space. For the longest time Sarah wouldn’t allow hugs or kisses to either my wife or me. I have literally seen the rage in Sarah’s eyes as she has bonked a smaller kid on the head and pushed babies out of her way when they touched her old toys. She’s like a grumpy old man stuck in a two year old princess’ body.

Fact is men, that if there has been a “discussion” about a third child, your wife has already decided that she wants one more. Maybe you think “Well, my wife just wanted to put it on the table for further discussion at a later date” This is no community meeting buddy, she’s already decided that she is going to have another and you are along for the ride. Now it is time for the good news. First of all, kids are a blessing and if don’t have trouble getting pregnant you should go for it. The other good news is you will again be having regular, for the sake of this blog being PG, we will call “it” picnics. Let’s face facts men; the rumor that you have less and less picnics when you are married is all true. You can’t shrug it off and say “Ah, that old man is just bitter, that’s what old guys do, they complain about stuff they don’t have anymore.” Maybe they can’t make it through the night without peeing three times, maybe they can’t eat the spicy food they once did, and maybe they can’t buy anything for a quarter anymore but the one thing they all know is what we have realized too. Married + kids + career = less picnics.

So, if you and your wife have had this discussion the best news is that you are going to have a whole lot of picnics to go to. Not just planned picnics but spur of the moment picnics! Picnics in the park, picnics at home and let’s just face it…it’s going to be one doozy of a picnic for you. My wife and I saw a mother traveling through the Buffalo airport with two toddlers and one baby BY HERSELF! All my wife did was shake her head and she said later “Maybe I can just volunteer in the nursery at church and get my baby fix that way.” I said “Yeah, maybe you could.” But inside my head I was thinking “does this mean we are not going to have a picnic later?”

Friday, April 9, 2010

When birthdays go wrong....

We had a birthday party for Adam last Monday, it was his fifth birthday. We still think that an all class birthday party for a 5 year old was a bit more than we could handle so we invited some of his friends over after school. My wife had grad school the weekend before the party so it was up to me to prepare for the event. I got the party favors, cupcakes were made by my wife, and I cleaned the entire house before the guests came. My wife asked me if I had any games planned. I figured that they would all just play for a few hours in between play, pizza, play, cupcakes, play, presents.

Then, it seemed the kids got bored so I had a game up my sleeve. We had done something similar in youth group with a straw and M & M's. I had recently got a package with packing peanuts in it and thought that the kids could use the straws like an elephant to suck up the packing peanut and run to another cup and deposit the packing peanut.

Well, I guess I underestimated their little lungs' ability to not only suck up the peanut but then run across to the other cup. So there I am, cheering the kids on with some kids desperately blowing through the straws with spittle flying through the straws into the cup. And there I am yelling "Suck it, suck it, don't blow it! Suck it like you are drinking from a juice box." Meanwhile my wife is laughing hysterically and I realize after 10 minutes of coaching them through this game what I am saying.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Let's Hear it for the Boys AND Girls

Like I said, being a stay at home dad (SAHD) was a little daunting at first but luckily I had a resource at my disposal that helped me out tremendously. When I was trying to find parents’ groups that I could join so my kids could socialize I found that Rochester had a website called I emailed a few of the people that ran the site looking for groups that included dads but most of the time women said that they wanted the group to be all moms because of the similar shared experiences. Now, if you know me I was a teacher for 9 years. I first worked at a K-8 school and then a high school.

Predominantly, I am around women and although I can’t hang with the hair salon conversation or the problems with my lazy husband conversations, believe me; my teacher friends at Morton had discussed it all. Ladies, don’t worry about talking about your period with me. I am not grossed out and I am not a pre-pubescent boy who is going to run away screaming COOTIES! Maybe it is because I am hanging out with all these women all the time but sometimes I get a little witchy too and that’s not because I am PMSing, it’s because I am aggravated and you are too. All kids drive parent’s crazy and I hate to admit that sometimes even my kids can drive me to a 100 Grand every now and then. The good thing being around all these women is obvious…I am a guy who sometimes hangs with 1-10 women depending on the Thursday night but it’s not because I run a street walking racket in Rochester it’s because they are fun! We share kid stories, tricks of the trade, we even discuss the best equipment out there for getting the job done. Ask the Y Mommies how many of them have a Shark and you will see…the power of testimony is huge!

So, my saving grace has been two things. First, the Y Mommies. It started with Andra and Shea. Both of them were so willing to hang out with a guy and not be weird about it. I’m just a guy like you are just a girl trying to do what is best for your kids and raise them right and be well adjusted and social. If they are not around other kids they will never learn how to interact with them one on one. It continued with Michelle, Melissa and many others who were/are so accepting of me and who included my kids in things like parties and playdates where my kids have learned what friendship really means. Not to mention getting me out of the house for some quality ME time. And if it just happens to be at a bar with 7 other women, so be it. What guy is going to pass that up? The YMCA in Rochester has been integral in the development of my kids. The programs and people, especially at the Southeast branch have made me feel like I am a family there. The teachers and staff genuinely care about my kids and the great thing is, they don’t hide it. They usually just come out and say it, and for that I am grateful.

Secondly, my homies. The other dads I hang out with and have found by the grace of God has been one of the best experiences in my life. Dave and Steve, you guys help balance out that other end and I value your friendships. When I just need to be a guy and eat subs, shoot some guns, talk about Star Wars. Ladies, this is where some of you will say…Hair Salon conversation is to Me as The A Team debate is to Chris. I LOVE that I can be both things as a Stay At Home Dad. So, if you are a stay at home parent and you are looking for a way to get your kids involved and socialized, try the YMCA. I’m Chris Bernholdt, not only do I feel like the president but I am also a client.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Am I Blogging?

Why am I blogging?  I became a stay at home dad two years ago.  My wife has always been the bread winner. I have been an art educator for the past 9 years of my life so we both knew when it came time for someone to stay at home, it would be me.  Not to mention that I have the most patience for stay at home activities. 

Not only did I become a stay at home dad which was new at the time but we also moved from the Chicago area to the Rochester area.  I have lived in the Chicago area all of my illustrious 33 years before moving to Pittsford so starting out was a little more daunting to begin with.  What I found was that staying at home is a tough job and maybe one of the most challenging ones I have had. 

I mean, people prepared me for it but you really have no idea.  It’s kind of like when you decide to have kids.  You can go to all the birthing classes they offer, you can diaper all the dolls you want, you can even practice swaddling that doll you brought to the class.  And you think. MAN, I GOT THIS!  The next thing you know, you just tried to bottle feed the cat at 4 am when you thought the baby was crying, your son pees in your face for the first time while changing his diaper, and you can’t figure out how to get those baby arms through the arm holes in these tiny, tiny clothes. 

The thing I found was that at least in Rochester, stay at home dad groups do not exist.  Sure, you can create a Meetup group on their site but you also have to pay for it.  Not to mention that I wanted to hang with guys that I found myself and not on some twisted version of  Us guys, we hang back…we observe.  Ladies, you just go for it.  You have something wired that makes conversation easy.  Meanwhile, we just nod to each other or do the head bob.  Thing is, we aren’t ready to high five or fist bump from the get go…we have to see what we are dealing with before we start a…GULP!..friendship with another guy. 

Being the outsider made it even harder.  I didn’t know where anything was, what I was going to do with these kids from 7am to 7pm.  The first couple of weeks while moving stuff in, my son fell out of a chair at the breakfast bar and broke his collarbone.  I didn’t know where the hospital was, I didn’t know my wife’s work number, my in-laws weren’t home and she wasn’t answering her cell.  Luckily my little brother had given me his old GPS while driving from Chicago with me with the cats.  Hospital…Nearest…Calculating Route…Sling for a toddler for a few months and limit his activity…GULP!

So, here I am two years later and I say…we must organize.  We must support each other and not in a way that is going to make us regret bringing it up to our wives because the truth is you will have to figure some stuff out by yourself.  Your wives will give you great suggestions and they will be supportive (I know mine always is) in any way they can.  They trust you with our kids and you are not going to let them down.  So, this Blog is for any guy who needs support, is looking for answers from a guy’s perspective, and on those days when you just need a laugh you can read some stories about my kids and my experiences as a stay at home dad.