Monday, December 31, 2012
1) You are going to lose socks in the washing/drying process. For some reason you never lose underwear or a shirt but ALWAYS socks. I don't know where all those darn socks went to and I know I am never going to find them.
2) The hot dog to bun ratio is ALWAYS going to be off. This honestly seems like a conspiracy to me. I know that I bought an eight pack of buns and an eight pack of hot dogs but then it seems like there are never enough of either one to please the kiddos.
3) You will constantly be doing dishes/washing bottles and laundry. I have taught my kids that if it doesn't smell, you can wear it again, except for underwear and socks and I STILL feel like I am constantly doing another load in the washing machine.
4) You will be amazed at the lack of judgement your kids will display. They are curious and will try out lots of things. My son once wondered what it would be like if he pushed his head through the opening of our cat tower until he got stuck. He never did that again.
5) Waiting for the babysitter to arrive when you and your wife are going out is how kids feel the night before Christmas or the day before their birthday. It is a real gift that should be cherished.
6) There is no bathroom cleaner that can claim that it is natural and still able to handle the stains. All bathroom cleaners have a smell even though they claim there are no harmful fumes. When in doubt, open a window first.
7) If you have cats, they will most certainly always barf on carpeting even though you only have half of your house covered in carpeting. If you have rugs on hardwood floors they will never puke on them...they will always go for the carpeting. I know not why they always are barfing or why they do it on the carpet.
8) I am not sure who coined the phrase "Don't cry over spilled milk" Have you ever tried to clean up spilled milk? That shit is sticky especially if some Froot Loops have been swimming in it and have enlarged to eight times their normal size. Cleaning up spilled milk sucks
9) Your kids will always throw a tantrum when you are late for an activity. It could be nanoseconds before you need to leave and they will just lose it.
10) Cherish your time at home. Almost every dad I have met this year who have asked what I do for a living sigh and say "Man, I WISH I could do that!"
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Many of my friends with kids have been posting on Facebook all day about today's events and they are right, tonight you need to hold your kids a little tighter and a little longer than you normally would. You may have to let the silliness go a little longer than usual, let their raucous voices ring out, or give them that extra cookie they are begging you for the last ten minutes. I have hugged and kissed my kids more today than I usually do. Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy like this to remind us to hold the people we love a little closer to our hearts. We can lose sight of just how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken from us.
In only my third year of teaching in 2001, I was walking in between bells to the classroom that I taught homeroom. This was the classroom where all the important messages that the school passed on through me to the students. It was my job to connect with these kids and support them. On the way there, a student in the hall said "Mr. B, I just heard that a plane flew into the World Trade Tower" I thought, that can't be right but witnessed the horror of 9/11 along with 27 other impressionable teenagers. What was I going to say to them to make it all better?
Being a teacher, you are taught the procedures of lock down, the codes that would be read over a loudspeaker, and the steps you would take to protect your students. Every fire drill I have been a part of, I have taken accounting for every student seriously even if they didn't. The reality as we see, can be much worse. It happened in the blink of an eye. I applaud the teachers who protected their students, who did what they could in the face of a heavily armed killer. There is no justice, only aftermath. It makes becoming a teacher that much more important knowing that you are responsible for their safety. I support the teachers who gave their lives today to keep others safe.
During and after 9/11 it was hard to go back to teaching. How could I go on with my lesson with this going on? I couldn't ; all I kept thinking about were the people affected and if my friend had been anywhere near it when it happened. How are you supposed to go on with life when something like this happens? I spent days after that just talking with kids and having them write down their feelings. When I resigned from the school in 2008 I cleaned out my desk and found their journals. I still have them. Every emotion written in pages and pages of children's minds. I can tell you, that kids need to be reassured. Kids need to know that we want to keep them safe and that we are going to do everything we can to make sure that they are.
I have seen first hand as a teacher in school how quickly misinformation can affect a child. It doesn't matter how old they are, they still need to be reassured. I have already heard from my son the things that get passed down from the older kids. The fourth graders have a tendency to let things trickle down to the younger grades whether they want to hear it or not. I would rather my son hear it from me what happened.
I don't want to freak him out so he won't hear details but I still want him to know that he is safe. Kids are perceptive when it comes to how adults are reacting and talking to other adults about a situation and ignoring that it never happened is not healthy. We need to show our children that it is O.K. to be sad or angry about a bad situation. This way they learn that it is normal to have these feelings and they learn how to cope with adversity.
If you talked to your kids about Hurricane Sandy, the earthquake in Haiti, The Tsunami in Japan, 9/11, this should also be addressed. While we can't begin to explain why things like this happen to young children we can at least give them comfort in knowing that we are there for them. There are some awesome websites devoted to talking to your kids about tragedies. Fred Rogers has a helpful website that can help you talk with your kids about what they perceive and how to deal with it. Go to http://www.fredrogers.org/new-site/par-tragic-events.html to learn more.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Don't get me wrong, Susie and I don't really give Santa all that much credit in the long run. He fills their stockings with things that they need like underwear and toothbrushes but we don't hide some ridiculous gift and pop it out at the end like it is something more special than all the others. The jolly old elf sometimes seems to get too much attention while the parents really are the ones that are busting their asses really providing for them the whole year through. We don't let that bowl full of jelly cash in on our happiness. It's much more fun for us to see their faces light up from a present you got them without Santa getting all the props for "knowing" EXACTLY what they wanted.
Let's face it, going to see Santa is a milestone. Most kids are terrified of this prospect. I have seen my own kids cry hysterically like I was taking them to go sit on Satan's lap. I gave up trying to make that photo happen. You are better off sidling next to Santa while holding them. Sitting on Santa's lap is kind of like the litmus test for the fortitude of your kid;will they tolerate it or bawl uncontrollably like you just set them down on a bed of nails? The only way you can prepare them for this is by finding a complete stranger with a straggly beard and ask them if you can put your kid on his lap for a few minutes periodically throughout the year. That way when December comes around they think that this is totally normal behavior. Sounds gross right? I understand why you are crying babies and I feel for you.
When it comes to Santa, I usually tell my kids that people can believe what they want but that I believe in Santa because I want to. The biggest lesson I have tried to impart on my kids at a young age is to be yourself and not worry about what people think of you. Stupid peer pressure. The first time I ever came up against this sort of thing I used The Polar Express to illustrate my point. For awhile this worked. I want to be able to still hear the bell. Clearly, these other parents have given up or the kids with older siblings just lose out because they don't want to be teased that they believe in something like Santa.
I understand the perception, that to an older kid believing in Santa makes you a baby and no one wants to be a baby especially when you are a 4th grader and you are headed to middle school next year. When my kids decide to stop believing I am going to make sure that they don't ruin it for the younger ones. Holding on to the magic is healthy for their imagination. Too much of what kids today are exposed to today is the harshness of reality. I am just bummed that eventually that magic is going to be gone with my kids. When that is gone it is really an indication of them growing up and who wants that? I am gunning for you bus kids, keep your ideas about Santa to yourself.
Monday, December 10, 2012
If you have ever seen the Seinfeld where Jerry inherits the space pen from his dad's friend down in Florida you know what I am talking about. This pen is supposed to be able to write underwater, under extreme temperatures; basically a pen that is as bad ass as an astronaut being launched into space. I have never personally been to space although I have come close when I made an attempt to brave Mission: Space at Epcot before Susie and I were married. Let's just say I will never be going into space even if we somehow figure out how to live up there. You see, I get extreme motion sickness. So even though I knew this, I still tried to be brave and go on it with my wife. Even when I spend a weekend up in the Adirondacks and am going in and out of fishing boats, I have after effects when I get back on land.
Anyway, back to the pen. I thought this was the sort of pen that could stand up to my dad's adventures in retirement. In fact, his response to me in email was that he loved the pen and hoped that he wouldn't have to use it to write underwater. Bernholdt's have bad experiences with plumbing.
I was looking at my scrapbook today and came across photos of myself with my dad. My mom did an awesome thing a few years back. She took all the photos of my brothers and me and separated them into bins. She then created a scrapbook for each kid. An amazing project given that I have three brothers and our family is a bunch of photography nuts.
It is awesome to see pictures of me with my dad. What is more awesome is seeing the resemblance between myself and my son. Same blue eyes, same mop of hair and same goofy smile. My dad however maintained his "Bow" which is that wavy thing on top of his head in the picture below. The Bow didn't last long after my younger brother was born however so you can glean what you want from that what you will. I am glad that I have this time with my Mini-Me at home and thanks dad for all that you did for me. Happy Birthday and I love you.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Don't get me wrong, it bothers me when the house is dirty. I despise cleaning the bathrooms. If you clean up after kids in bathrooms you know what I am talking about. It's not just my son's inability to appropriately pee in an elongated bowl giving him ample surface area in which to operate. My daughter is just as bad with leaving a pee trail behind. Sometimes I get down there to clean the bowl and think "Holy crap! What happened in here?" I still consider it a triumph in my stay at home dad portfolio to know I taught my kids to wipe their own asses even if the job they do sometimes isn't all that thorough.
I don't want you to misunderstand either, my house is not as bad as a college friend I once knew. He literally had roaches in his dorm and dorm rooms are not big. He probably could have cleaned the entire thing with a Wet Nap. Going into his room was like visiting Joe's Apartment. I was afraid to go in there and definitely would NEVER sit on his beanbag chair. I suspect that the queen lived somewhere in there and was not about to find out the hard way. Come to think of it, I am not that sure what ACTUALLY filled his beanbag chair.
I used to ask him why he had bugs in his room and he just shrugged. I knew however that he regularly had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches laying about in what he called "strategic locations". My kids can sometimes be like that; sometimes I give the two year old an apple and assume that she has eaten it core and all only to find it hours later between the couch cushions, on a bookshelf, or in the laundry basket.
It's hard because after a day of dealing with the kids making the mess you actually have to clean up the mess. If you really want to impress your hard working wife you need to buckle down and do a clean sweep. Happy wife, happy life. Right? So, this is what I have started to do and it may work for you too.
1) If your kids can pull out toys they can also put away toys. Granted, their idea of putting something away is never going to fit in your color coded bins with separated toys by category but you need to get them involved. If you are freaked out at the thought that Barbies are mingling with Ninjago Legos then wait until the kids have helped clean up before you re-clean. Getting the kids involved gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.
2) Rotate your chores. Find the things that you really despise doing and set aside one day for each thing to focus on. Granted, I feel like I am constantly washing dishes and laundry in between cleaning up cat puke but by breaking down cleaning duties you are much less likely to blow them off. I usually tackle bathrooms first because they are my nemesis. Once they are out of the way, the rest is easy and you won't feel so overwhelmed.
3) Look high and low, real low. It's amazing the things that you will see when you are experience what your kids are seeing. At their level I notice the crumbs more. In my defense, being 6'7" and having poor eyesight has contributed but it's mostly because of procrastination. As a friend of mine once said "Procrastination is like masturbation, you are only screwing yourself. Like a rookie cop, check your corners. Cobwebs build up in the damnedest places.
4) Each kid is generating a certain amount of filth. Their is a direct correlation between their age and the amount of snack crap they are producing. Take their age in to account to determine how on top of the cleaning you need to be. Multiple kids means multiple messes. The more kids you have in your house, the more concentrated your contamination is going to be. A good indicator of this level is the state of your backseat, minivan, or underneath your car seats. Untold treasures await you.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
A week ago, this suburban mouse spent two days in the Big Apple, crashing on my best friend of 20 year's couch while we celebrated his bachelor party festivities. I have to say that being in a city like NYC really made me appreciate living in The Burbs. I can equivocally say that city life is just not for me.
It's not just the people rudely bumping into me (they have to see me right?),the massive amounts of people that just seem to be EVERYWHERE, or the subway car packed so full of people I got to know an elderly man pretty well. Clearly, there are just city mice that are just into this sort of thing.
What struck me more and what I watched more often than the trendy people walking the streets with a purpose, were the families with kids in the city. I give it up to you people, you amaze me! I have a hard enough time getting my almost two year old to constantly hold my hand and not run in a parking lot and NYC is basically a HUGE parking lot. I don't know how you do it. NYC Dads, my hat's off to you. Navigating the city and keeping your kids safe is an astonishing feat. I guess that if you grow up there kids just get used to it and are street smart about crossing. NYC kids must run clinics on how to properly cross without getting flattened because it almost happened to me a few times and I KNOW that they see ME!
If you are a NYC Dad or parent and you want to hang out with the pros of the city then check out their Facebook page: NYC Dads. They have all kinds of great events for you and the kids and they will help you become a pro too.
For this suburban mouse, I will enjoy my life in my cul de sac neighborhood but know NYC that I also appreciate the following other thing you showed me: cabbies. As crazy as you drive, you helped make my life easier when I was there and got me back to my kids on time. Thank you NYC!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Indian Guides was a fun time for me and my dad. If you aren’t familiar with Indian Guides it was a form of male bonding centered on Native American themes which was run by the YMCA. They may now call it Adventure Guides or Indian Princesses for little girls and their dads. We had pow-wows and the head of our tribe wore a headdress and we called him the Chief. We went on sleep overs, learned how to shoot bows and arrows, and did activities with our dads.
My favorite part was our attire which was a felt vest which held our patches and donned our Indian names. We got to choose our Indian names. My older brothers were Running Deer and Rising Sun. Whatever the son was, the dad was the big version of that. My younger brother was Little Eagle and therefore my dad was Big Eagle. Although if you have seen myself or my dad he probably should have been called Bald Eagle.
When I was in Guides I was doing a book report on an animal that I thought was interesting. Unfortunately for my dad I wanted to be Little Beaver so of course he became Big Beaver. As a dad now I can only assume that sitting around at night drinking beer and playing cards while the kids slept which my dad tells me was an added bonus to doing Indian Guides, Big Beaver got lots of flak for his name.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
While reading Hop on Pop, which is another game my kids love to play I came across this image. Ever have one of those days? I can honestly say that staying at home is the greatest job ever and that I am closer to my kids because of it. However, just like any job there are frustrations and failures, some even of epic proportions. What happens when you don't have anyone to share your experiences, failures, or accomplishments with?
Recently, I got into one of these funks. After the convention I was riding a high. It was indescribable what it feels like to go to a place where all the dads are like you. Most of them even dressed like me in the goofy T-shirts and cargo shorts, so it made me feel like I was a part of something bigger. I was excited and was raring to find other dads like me that I could start a group with in my area. Then, I got a dose of reality. I would spot a guy alone with some kids and I would ask him if he was a stay at home dad anxious to talk about my new group and my ideas with someone. Dad after dad said something like "I am just helping out today" or "Just giving my wife the day off" and it became disheartening.
My wife had to remind me that I am still in the minority even though we are a growing number and that in time, I would have my group. We are planning a group that will focus on other dads in my area. I am hoping that by creating the group that dads will find me and not only allow my kids to socialize but for me to make friends as well. It has been about a year since we moved here and while I "know" most of my neighbors, finding guys who do the same things or experience the same things really is going to be key in pulling me out of this feeling of despair.
Unfortunately, when I get down it affects my mood and my desire to run things smoothly. Your kids will notice it. Mine did. My son asked me "Why are you so sad? You don't seem as happy as you used to be" If I were in a corporate job right now I would most certainly be on a performance plan. After the convention I was excited and full of ideas and when it didn't immediately come to fruition I shut down a bit. I think it is mostly due to the fact that stay at home dads can often feel like they are isolated. I know that this is not the case nationally as I am part of the National At Home Dad Network but locally getting connected to other dads is key.
So, if you are an at home dad and you are feeling left out. Seek out Meetup groups in your area. Do a search for stay at home dads in your town. I am doing something about it. I found Main Line Dads and contacted another dad in the Philly area. Things are looking up for my group. You are not alone and neither am I.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
I just returned from my daughter's pre-school which recently had their school portraits done. Yikes. The school picture business is pretty cutthroat.
The way this company makes money is that they print 12 pages of various poses, three per child, and then you get the task of picking out what you want and don't want. On their website pricing is vague. You are supposed to contact the representative for pricing. However, I can give you some insight as to what this might cost. One sheet of 8 wallet size photos is $17. Two sheets are $33 and three sheets are $53. If you just can't choose per sheet a package is available for all sheets for the low, low price of $230!
Your kids are precious but can you really drop over two hundred dollars for portraits of your kid from preschool? Some parents around me were agonizing because they couldn't decide. One even said she was looking through the proofs for an hour! Parents around me were shelling out hundreds while I quietly slipped away with a sheet of wallets. Your kids are adorable no doubt, so how do you decide? They intentionally make it hard to decide with the three poses but as a parent AND photographer I can help you make an easier decision. Do it yourself. Here is how:
A general rule in photography when you are enlarging something is that if it was shot in a smaller format you are limited on what size you can go up to. If you are printing from a negative (no one does this anymore unless you are in school for photography) which is small, enlarging something to a bigger size is going to lose some of your resolution hence, a photograph may look grainy or blurry.
Have you ever tried to take a digital image from your point and shoot digital camera and have it printed larger? Your images probably became blurry or pixelated unless you are shooting your images at a very high resolution. This is usually where megapixels come into play and why when choosing a camera you should be aware of what your maximum resolution is going to be and what you set your camera to record. Shoot your kids in your highest possible resolution especially if you are going to be enlarging the image.
Use good lighting. The word photography actually means "Light writing" so choose lighting that will compliment your subject. Make sure your kids aren't squinting into the sun. The best time of day to shoot outside is just as the sun is rising in the morning or as the sun is making its descent in the afternoon. The quality of light during these times is a little softer than directly overhead. I like to make my kids smile naturally by saying something funny right before I snap the photo. Kids have a tendency to look off camera so tell them exactly where you want them to look while taking the picture. You can put a sticker on the front of your camera for them to focus on.
If photography isn't your thing and you are forced to purchase from a company then follow these guidelines. When choosing from multiple poses if there is anything you don't like about the photo, eliminate it altogether. You can crop badly composed images but if the smile doesn't look right or the positioning of a hand is weird it will always be weird and if it bothers you now, it will probably always bother you so don't settle. Have an idea of format size in your mind before you purchase. Some people like to buy 11 X 14 and hang it going down their stairs. Some like to buy wallets for the relatives. Know what sizes you will need before you commit.
If this idea is not for you and you would like to hire a photographer yourself I happen to know a few that do outstanding work. See the list below. All are photographers that I know personally and they will not disappoint. If you know any great photographers in YOUR area please leave a comment and/or link.
RCG Photography in Geneva, IL,
Heather Demmons Photography in Chandler, AZ
TJM Photography in Rochester, NY
Friday, October 19, 2012
She was a great speaker and one that I took lots of lessons home about how you communicate effectively with your kids. My youngest,Heidi, at 22 months is testing these very boundaries everyday. My older kids, Sarah and Adam, at five and seven years old respectively have gotten away from the timeouts so now I have become rusty.
What have a learned over the years? I have learned that you have to act on what you say. Don't give your kids multiple chances. Give them a warning and if they don't follow through then give them a timeout. Heidi is slowly learning that the timeout is not fun but only when I consistently follow through with the warning and immediate punishment.
Dr. Hackney taught me one very important lesson. If you are constantly repeating yourself, YOU are teaching your kids NOT to listen. By repeating yourself you are teaching your kids that even if you give them a warning you are going to say it four or five more times before you really flip out.
She explained that our voices must be assertive and not passive or aggressive. An example of someone with passive voice is someone that begs, pleads or even bribes for good behavior. I have heard people in stores say things like "If you put your shoes on Daddy will buy you a Lego set"
Passive voices often ignore conflict and can ask irrelevant questions like "Why did you take your shoes off?" I do this all the time and can attest that it is a waste of time. Kids aren't going to We also need to avoid the aggressive voice which focuses on the negatives toward the child.
Aggressive voices often use "You" statements or use "always" and "never" to describe the child. For example, if a parent says "You never put your shoes on" you are focusing on making the child feel bad and not focusing on the fact that they are not following your directions.
Of course, there is also the passive-agressive flip which is a common pattern. You may try a very soft approach and when it doesn't work you go into beast mode. To combat this Dr. Rene suggested how to become assertive without being aggressive.
1) Use straightforward statements
It is time now to put on your shoes please
2) Do not repeat
You can still give warnings but must be consistent with time
3) Follow through (respectfully) the first time
4) Give choices only when they really exist
5) Give usable information
6) Own and express your feelings.
It is good for kids to know how their behavior is affecting you
I highly suggest that you visit her website if you are interested in learning more. Visit Dr. Rene Hackney's teachings at www.askdrrene.com
You can also find some of her informative videos on YouTube HERE
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The cartoons I had as a kid were Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny and Wile. E. Coyote. In both cases they were constantly chasing one another and devising different ways they could drop an anvil on each other's heads.
Cartoons have definitely changed. Most kids shows now have pauses in between questions that they pose to the viewers. My son, who is now seven, takes these opportunities now to direct Dora to her demise often telling her to head down the wrong path directly to the crocodiles.
But, can cartoons be helpful? They were to my son, who learned his song via The Dinosaur Train when his teacher used it as a visual aid to learn dinosaur names. Check out the real video here.
Of course I am not saying plop your kid in front of a TV all day. Everything in moderation. Kids need healthy meals, excercise, plenty of sleep, stimulating games and puzzles and reading, reading, and more reading.
But, in defense of today's TV most of it is educational save for Spongebob Squarepants whom my kids find annoying thank goodness. However, there are awesome shows like Team Umi Zoomi which teaches math, Octonauts which is science based and even Dora which teaches basic problem solving and the three step method. I can't say that I haven't used Dora's three step method to explain what we are doing for the afternoon I just wish she would stop asking my kids to say everything louder.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Things don't start counting until you are two. My daughter, who is close to 22 months can communicate fairly reasonably and she has been walking since she was 9 months old yet she is not allowed on the "big kid" side at my local YMCA.
In fact, the little security key tags that I have for all the other kids they don't even bother with until the child is two. I assume that this means that she doesn't really exist when I take her there almost every single day. Maybe I should be getting a discount on my membership. I guess that they believe that all babies must look the same. I find that interesting because they hassle me for my card every time I pass by like the President is working out upstairs.
Some things don't count when you are under two. Rides don't count and most admission to museums or other such places set the bar at two. I find it humorous however that in two months museums will be charging her full price because technically she becomes a "child" or human being at this age.
I am not knocking not paying 10 dollars per kid at the American Helicopter Museum's Rotorfest this past weekend. Ten dollars? This wasn't exactly Chicago's Air and Water Show. I did however, shell out five dollars for "Date with the Tramp" which was a harness trampoline romp for kids over two. Clearly, the greatest name for a trampoline business you could ever have. So if you were feeling a little blue because of your age, if you recently passed a milestone, just take a few years off and celebrate your real age because technically, you didn't exist until you were two.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
While this is happening you are creating a bond that kids emotionally will attach to you. My daughter, who is 21 months currently is the worst offender of this. She constantly wants to be held, by me. She doesn't want anyone else to put her to bed. She wants me to hold her when I am sauteing vegetables. She wants me to hold her when her brother and sister are around. Essentially she is claiming me as her own like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant.
There is no doubt that within this dynamic there can be feelings of jealously between you and your spouse. Not getting attention from your kids is a terrible feeling. We know this because we see how our own kids can be when they don't get attention. That doesn't mean you should stamp your feet and stick out your bottom lip and demand a cuddle but it does mean that you will have to be patient.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that eventually. EVENTUALLY. It will all change. Just when you thought they would never roll over, they did it. Just when you thought they would never sleep through the night, they did it. Just when you thought that they would never poop in a bucket, they did it!
My wife and I try to make sure that there are special times that only mommy gets with each child. It may mean baking cookies together or going shopping for girl stuff or even going on a walk alone but make it a point to spend solo time on mini-dates with your kids. Your kids love you and cherish you. Just give them time and attention and I promise it will turn around.
Monday, October 8, 2012
The At Home Dad Network changed all of this. I found it quite by accident doing a search on stay at home dad blogs. When I came upon the fact that they offered an actual convention that supports, educates, advocates, and provides a community for stay at home dads I was blown away. I was so excited in fact that I ran into the living room yelling to my wife "They have a convention for people like me...Dads that stay at home!" I immediately knew that I wanted to attend and while I am logistically challenged, somehow I made it so with my wife's help of course. She agreed to take on the responsibilities at home, called in a grandma for assistance, and put her own work on hold (at least for a few days).
I was driving there from Philly, ALONE. I could blast my stereo and no one was adjusting the volume. I could stop when I wanted to and take as many rest stop breaks as I deemed necessary. I may be huge but I have the bladder of a small child. I drove to DC, checked into the hotel and was amped to meet up with the other dads. Immediately, I knew that this is where I belonged. Each and every guy there was easy to talk to and I am sure they, like me were excited to have some conversation with other guys that didn't include discussion about Legos, Barbies, diapers, or bottles for a change.
The convention was hosted by DC Metro Dads who put together an awesome four days of activities around their home city. Not only did I get to see all that Washington DC had to offer but I spent an entire day attending discussions and listening to speakers who helped me become a better father. I even had an opportunity for a service project so that I could volunteer my time to help out local families at the DC Food Bank.
The speakers brought about "aha! moments" where I could relate to my own experiences and in the future apply what I learned so that I can communicate better with my children. I also had to opportunity to get to know lots of other dads from all over the country and even help them out with my experience. The convention is an unparalleled resource for us stay at home dads and it shouldn't be missed.
If you missed this year join us next year September 28th, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. You can find more information about the National Stay At Home Dad Network on their Facebook page or at the At Home Dad Network website
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
If you think back to the Seinfeld episode, Jerry has the kid over and explains to him that swearing is just not a good habit to form and that comics that do it are considered hacks. The kid proceeds to destroy his tape when he has his back turned and he berates the kid saying "WTF are you doing? You little..."
The 21 month old is entering her Terrific Twos earlier than scheduled and if I had any hair I would be ripping it out as we speak. She just finds ways to challenge me that are unlike any of the other kids. Now that she can at will climb out of her crib I am convinced that she is accessing the DVR and recording re-runs of wrestling matches that feature Ric Flair. She bites, she scrapes, she hits, she punches. Where in the hell is she getting this stuff?
Our other kids may have done this once or twice but after going in time out for these offenses, they stopped cold turkey. She just doesn't seem to be phased by this time out thing and my feeble attempt to place her in the pack in play is met with her just climbing out of it when I leave the room. She still doesn't like the fact that I put her in there so I am sticking with it.
Still, I have to watch what I am saying around these kids. I have slipped a few times and not in the Christmas Story sort of way where it comes out as "Fudge" but it has been close. The times that I have slipped I just hope and pray that it went in one ear and out the other. My favorite go to "swear" will always be "Heidi, you are so....silly." I call at lot of things silly these days. Freakin' silly.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
She settled on some pretzels and much to her exasperation, sat down and slumped her shoulders. The mom then asked if she wanted a drink and suggested she get a bottle of water. The girl went to the cooler and said "Oh yeah, I LOVE root beer! Can I get a root beer? I want a root beer!" The mom said "No, you can have a water" to which the daughter replied "Why do you always have to ruin my life!"
Kid, it is a root beer. While delicious I think that downing some sugary drink after a good physical activity is not in your best interest. She continued to complain about the root beer and I was very close to saying "You'll get nothing and like it" quoting Judge Smails in Caddyshack. However, I restrained myself and continued to witness the train wreck that was about to ensue.
We make choices for our kids everyday that in their minds are unfair while we are just looking out for their best interest. Setting boundaries with your kids is key and most of all sticking to your guns when you make a judgement call. We don't have challenge flags and do overs so we must make value judgments constantly and in split second time. Sure, NFL referees have a tough job making calls that happen in fractions of an instant but so does anyone with a meltdown prone toddler.
So, here is where the mom loses all control. She sighs. Uh oh, we know where this is headed. She is about to concede because she would rather not listen to her kid complain. The mom says, OK you can have a root beer. The kid is happy but inside the mom is struggling. I can see it and it is welling up inside her. She is thinking "I should have just stuck with the first thing I said"
So, she changes her mind, AGAIN. Takes the root beer away from the kid and physically walks over and grabs a water bottle now claiming "I am not going to pay for a root beer" The poor kid. She is now in agony over the loss of the root beer she once held in her hand. Sweet, sweet root beer gone from whence you came.
The girl says "Why do you always ruin my life! I hate you." There's the dagger. The thing I hope I never hear from my kids. We are not still talking about the root beer. Give your kid too many chances and vacillate in any way and things are going to crumble.
Turns out the kid didn't do last week's homework. Mom says "You didn't do last weeks homework and I should have grounded you but I let you slide, so you have lots of work to do, now get to work." So the girl replies "But Mom, some of these questions are HARD. This sucks and so do you" Finally the mom talks to the kid about acceptable behavior and tells her she is on her last nerve.
The kid is at fault for the homework being overwhelming. I have been there. My friend used to say that procrastination is like masturbation, you are only screwing yourself. But, in the end the mom is at fault for going back and forth on decisions. She allowed her daughter to push beyond boundaries of unacceptable behavior and clearly she knows that if she pushes her mom enough she will get what she wants.
I'm no perfect parent. I have done this with my kids. Sometimes you just want them to stop asking for ice cream for the billionth time that day because it wears on you. I get it but we have to set clear expectations for our kids and stick to them.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I am not sure where they get this notion because they do like to mix Fruity Pebbles with just about anything. When I suggested that at dinnertime we make a Taco Salad instead of just having separate sections of food items they looked at me like I had a second head.
I am trying to teach them that sometimes the best recipes are created from combining two or more flavors together but they still seem skeptical. So, I tried to explain it in a language they would understand like DESSERT.
I asked them if they liked marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate by itself and then demonstrated the flavor explosion that a S'more has when combined. They were on board with this notion finally and then I tried to sell them guacamole.
The thing is, they love onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lemons/lime. But the instance that the avocado joined the party all bets were off. Maybe it is the bright green color that lost them but my son wouldn't even try it. Oh well. I tried. Lucky for my I LOVE dintercourse so my guacamole is safe.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
While at the park this morning we encountered real geese. Canadian geese I believe. Let me just tell you how vicious these things are. This is my youngest daughter's first encounter with a live animal. Our cat at home is named Butters. If that is any indication of his disposition I don't know what is. Mom and Dad used to be huge South Park fans, what can I say.
My youngest daughter was excited to see the ducks but then the geese came. Apparently, people at the park must regularly feed them bread because a gaggle of these came calling towards me and Heidi. I had no bread but Heidi was offering a succulent 20 month old finger to the head goose.
This thing appeared to me to be more velociraptor than bird. Immediately it was hissing at me and asking for bread, of which I had none. I started to wonder "Was Mother Goose really a nice lady?"
My wife works in an office building that has a pond. Apparently, the infestation became so bad that they ordered swans, which are the natural enemy to geese. I guess that the geese are craftier than they thought because they cut a deal with the swans and live together in the pond. Now they all crap everywhere they want. Has anyone had any extra special run ins with nature?
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The problem is, that I am alone once again without my wife. During the week I usually am but with school being out I have three to contend with instead of two. If you have kids and are thinking that a third is right for you just know that you are going from one on one to zone defense. As a stay at home dad taking them anywhere means they are on a fast break and I am about to get posterized. I would just it rather not be a picture someone took of me on their cell phone while I am losing it in a public place. "Hey check that guy out, his head might explode!"
It's a situation I would rather not be in. Any chance my 19 month old gets, she takes off and gleefully looks back to see if I am chasing her. While this is fun running the circuit from our dining room to living room to kitchen it is not so fun in a crowd of surly Philadelphians who have also given chase to their kids and may or may not clothesline me on the way to mine.
If only there was some way to contain her...oh yes, there is ONE way.
The child leash. There is merit to such an idea though before I was a parent I would look at people who had their kids on these in disgust. It only really becomes an issue if you are treating your kids like a dog and not a child as is demonstrated by many still shots of parents at Wal-Mart.
It is clear that not unlike uncouth dog owners some parents abuse this child leash. You may not tie your kid outside a Starbucks while you go in for free Wi-Fi. If your kid is not following the command "come" you are not allowed to drag them ANYWHERE. Someone who did this was shopping for a cell phone case and apparently didn't want the bedazzled one that said "BITCH" to be picked up by anyone else. Your kid should not become a human Swiffer either. If your kid is not behaving pick them up and take them home, remove them from the situation regardless of where you are. Saving face is much better than losing your spot in the checkout line.
The leash is to prevent your kids from getting lost, snatched or harmed so you should in no way be using it like something that undoes all that. This is why this kid leash has such a bad rap.
A child leash can prevent the little person from accessing their favorite things at this age which may be open streets, crowds of people, exit doors that may alarm when opened, sharp objects, ridiculously long flights of stairs and a million other things I see in my head. I think that the makers realized that people might shy away from such an invention by attempting to soften it by adding a plush animal to the restraint and calling it a "backpack" that just so happens to have a cord attached to it for you to hold.
Using it places like Disney, airports, and just about any vacation destination I can think of has merit but what will people think when they see my kid in one? I mean, this kid looks like he is building some serious muscle. Maybe I could attach a parachute to the end of this thing for some resistance training.
I didn't end up going but I probably will tomorrow and without a kid leash. I guess I am old school like that plus, I do need the exercise. Unless someone can convince me otherwise I am going to let my kids run free.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
The Scholarship Committee has already awarded two scholarships. And at this time does not have enough funds in the account to help Carl.
Log on to his website to make a donation.
For those people who wish to claim a tax write off, you can make a donation in Carl’s name through “The National At-Home Dads Network” website at www.daddyshome.org. The DONATE icon is at the top right-hand corner of the Home page. All donations above what is needed to help Carl will be bequeathed to the At Home Dad’s Scholarship fund to help other at-home dads attend the convention.
Here is an excerpt from his nomination submission, in which we ask the at-home dad to write why he would like to attend the convention:
My name is Carl Young and I’m a proud at-home dad. My wife Malette and I live in beautiful North Dakota. We are the parents of five children….Elizabeth, Kelsey, Cole, Tanner and Marc.
Marc is adopted, and was a special needs adoption. He was born addicted to meth and a host of illegal and legal drugs.
It hasn't been easy adopting a child like Marc. Marc has been diagnosed with anti-social behaviors (conduct disorder), a traumatic brain injury, fetal alcohol syndrome, reactive attachment disorder, facets of autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and severe ADHD.
We pursued adoption in part because I was adopted along with my brother and we felt it would be good to continue the tradition.
I want to further network with other fathers to find unique ways to serve stay at home dads. However, we don't have extra money for a trip to the convention. I have started to do some fundraising, but not sure how successful that will be.
Currently I serve other parents, especially dads, a number of ways.
1. Whynotfathers.com, which is showing dads that it is ok to talk about how they feel.
2. Through service on the board of directors for Family Voices of North Dakota.
3. I was appointed to the board of directors for North Dakota Committee for Protection and Advocacy.
4. I am a recent graduate of Partners in Policymaking, which was led by our regions ARC.
5. I also volunteer as a parent participant in the annual review of Title
V Block Grants for Region VII.
6. Currently I also serve on the "Task Force on Seclusion and Restraint."
I look forward to the opportunity to network with other stay at home dads.
Thank you for your consideration.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
I want to ensure that they are not going to backwards roll. If they want to fold the corners like Merry Maids was just at my house then that would be an added bonus but there is nothing worse than doing your business than to discover that the kids left you high and dry without sparing a square. Luckily, I have the wingspan of an American Condor and was able to procure a roll from the vanity without leaving my nest.
Bathroom etiquette seems to be a good place to start. Just the other day while taking Adam to the bathroom while on vacation he encountered his first full length urinal to which he replied "WOW! Fancy!" Yet, he still stood dangerously far away from an apparatus that can't really fail you. It made me realize that just maybe I need to revisit this whole peeing like a man thing. I wonder what he would think if I took him to a Cubs game. Ew. Luckily I am a Sox fan, because peeing in a trough while rubbing elbows with the guy next to you who has been drinking Old Style since 12 noon is just not the kind of bathroom experience I want to expose him to. His grandfather has already showed him up in the Adirondacks how to pee like a man in the woods, his favorite spots, and peeing off the dock which was in itself a Kodak moment.
I didn't potty train him myself but maybe this is my opportunity to impart some man knowledge on him about the bathroom. It can be a dicey place sometimes and some of it I don't even understand like why old guys have to hold onto the wall or how some guy could go no hands at all! I must teach him about urinal buffer zones, spacing and when a conversation is appropriate and when you should just stare straight ahead. I need to teach him about the two shakes rule and why sometimes there are urinal cakes or sometimes ice.
Friday, July 20, 2012
If you have kids you have probably tried to quietly sneak into their room to retrieve something only to be surprised by having your foot impaled by a stray Lego. Barbies and My Little Ponies aren't soft either and given the right conditions an adult can be felled pretty easily. We've see all kinds of natural disasters in our house. Poop bombs, Deluges of urine, Projectile vomiting. However, there is one more sinister phenomena that scares me the most. The Toyphoon.
A toyphoon is that thing that happens when your kids start playing. They don't focus on one thing and play with that until they tire and return it from whence it came. They move on, like locusts and spread the toys near and far. The toys themselves become their own entity spreading throughout the house.
There is no shelter from a toyphoon and while you can try and battle it by putting things away while they play it will only be replaced by something else. I've tried to wait out a toyphoon with limited success. Sometimes with threee kids in the house I witness the perfect storm and you will find me huddled on the couch hiding behind my iPad. I have seen what tornadoes and hurricanes can do to homes and this is no different. Only a toyphoon creates mass destruction INSIDE your home.
The best way to avoid the toyphoon? Purge the unnecessary toys that your kids don't play with. This is hard for me because A) I am a pack rat. I think, "Hey, they might want to do this with this toy" but, they never do. And, B) Heidi has all hand me down toys and I leave things in there that the first two never played with hoping that when I go to sleep at night the toys are actually talking to each other saying "Man, that dad character is awesome. I finally got my shot today!"
I know this is not true and that I need to simplify but at the end of the day I need a Dyson toy vacuum to pick them all up. I'm 6'7" so picking up toys is not exactly my forte. You may ask "Why don't you have the kids do it?" I do. Sometimes. But the way they put things away is a variation of the toyphoon. Just today I asked Sarah to pick up some goldfish that were still un-crunched from the carpet. She picked them up alright but then proceeded to throw them behind the couch! What is this? I said "We don't live in a Ground Round!"
Thursday, July 12, 2012
I am sure all of your kids are angels but what one thing does your kid do that drives you crazy? Try hard just to pick one as I am sure you have many. Would love to hear your stories.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I've met some cool guys but I haven't found "the one" that you just click with. I need this guy for outings. I rarely like to go to any kid related public activity without a wing man. Except that in this scenario bro is watching your other two kids while the third joyously runs away into the most crowded area with limited visibility.
I've hung out with dads who have lost their kids in such places one who was given a stern look by a docent because he was encumbered by a stroller that was not capable for off-roading while his daughter quickly disappeared like Speedy Gonzalez. When I am at The Please Touch museum I am playing defense like I am playing ball. My knees are bent and ready to shuffle. I try to box out Heidi from yet again slipping past me which is her favorite game next to running balls out into the street. I keep my left foot pointed at Sarah and I open up my stance to wherever Heidi may be lurking. I am in position to play defense and there is no flopping here or Heidi might end up outside in the parking lot.
I need to find this guy who trusts me with his kids as much as I trust him with mine. I need a guy who likes Swamp People, drinking beer at a Hooters or playing darts talking about how much we used to be able to drink BEFORE we'd go out! Hanging with others moms is awesome. My Y Mommies in NY are unparalleled in the quality of fun I had with them. Being the only rooster in the hen house was cool but I need something more. I need a DFF and gosh darn it I am going to find one!
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I don't know if all of this lack of emotion became bottled up inside me over time but I can tell you that it has been slowly leaking out, literally. I have a tendency to well up in particular when I am talking about someone that I care about. My kids by far are the worst. I have barely made it through Adam's first grade conference without explaining that I must have had some dirt in my eye or that my contacts were bothering me. When I was a teacher, this was really hard for me to give an awesome conference. Sometimes I looked forward to the kids who were failing to come in and show me that they cared because that meant I didn't have to get choked up talking about how amazing they were. I could be a hardass. That didn't happen often. It is this deep sense of pride that I have in people that will unleash the waterworks. Dammit Chris, there is no crying in blogging! If it was a student that really impressed me or showed me how great they were it was really difficult not to lose all credibility as this kid's teacher. I would be an awesome actor for crying scenes because I can think of lots of times students have impressed me or something that my kids have done that make me think. Wow! These people are incredible!
Before teaching I was terrible at public speaking. I still don't like it all that much. Speeches are hard but it's going to be even harder for me to talk about my little brother getting married. Don't get me wrong I couldn't be happier for him. He has found someone that he loves and she loves him back and they are going to spend the rest of their lives together. That's a beautiful thing but this is the same kid that I used to do everything with. When the kids at the Darien Swim and Racquet Club were picking on him I stood up for him. We played Star Wars, He-Man and G.I. Joe together endlessly. We rode our bikes to baseball card shops and to Showbiz Pizza to play video games. If you have seen this kid's Universal Studios movie you know that he is just funny. I have laughed more times with him than anyone. He just knows how to make people laugh. We lived together in Lyons and we lived together in Bolingbrook. Nothing brings two guys closer than dry-walling your own basement. We even worked together ; where Brett slept on a giant pile of rocks and our stories about that summer job are legendary.
He's the best about including people, myself included. He always let me tag along with his friends from high school which hasn't changed. I spent four awesome days in Welaka. Heck, I was in a mosh pit with his friend's dad seeing NIN when the dad broke some punks nose! The reality is I have been through a lot with Brett and he is undoubtedly my best friend. So, if thinking about him being happy makes me cry then let the waterworks begin. Love you Brett.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Now granted we are not travelling at 4Gs or Mach 5 or whatever it takes to propel a space shuttle off the ground yet she can't stomach the ride in the back seat for more than two hours...or can she? Hmmm... I don't know what happened there. I used to be able to ride roller coasters in my younger days. Maybe I just can't stomach it anymore. Not since Batman: The Ride episode in 1992. Back then I never tied my shoelaces. I don't know many people that did. It didn't occur to me that it should be something I might consider while my long lanky legs dangled precariously from the ride while they locked me in.
I should have paid more attention to the signs they were right there in black and yellow. I had my Jordans on but they were not laced up for ballin' purposes. I was enjoying the ride until I realized mid-twist that the centrifugal forces and my cool loosened shoes were not a good match. I literally watched in horror as my shoes dislodged themselves from my long narrow feet and planted themselves in Gotham City's water reservoir. All I could think was I hope they have a ride called Penguin: The Submersible Submarine. I left the ride shaken but mostly just shoeless.
Great America told me that they were not responsible for lost articles and they were not calling in divers to make a retrieval. I was S.O.L. Shoes Out of Luck. I was forced to purchase some flip flops at Joker's gift shop and was relegated to ride the Log Ride and Splash Mountain for most of the afternoon. Yet it wasn't the same without my kicks. The Bulls were on the verge of winning their first Back to Back title and my shoes were swimming with the fishes. I haven't been the same since then. Maybe it is psychological, maybe I need to just take some Dramamine and get a re-do but luckily for my wife the backseat is the one adventure I can conquer.