Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Day my Jordans Died

While on vacation last weekend I realized why my wife loved to drive the entire 6 hours. It's because I am good at keeping the kids occupied on long car rides. That, and the fact that she gets car sick in the middle rows after long periods of time. It's funny to me mostly because I am the one that can't handle roller coasters. She could go on every ride at Epcot in succession, which she did after I made the fatal mistake of trying to take on Mission:Space back in 2002.

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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Travelling? There's an App for that

This past weekend my wife and I ventured on one of the scariest adventures of all time. The family vacation! It was less than 300 miles to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia and while our kids did pretty well there is something both daunting and fun about travelling across the country with your little ones. It's not like they took in the scenery the whole way or anything. My wife and I would point out areas of interest like they were on a tour bus. Thank goodness for the iPad which has been a blessing. I was up late the previous night of our departure feverishly downloading movies that might hold their attention for the six hour car ride. I had put so many on there by the end of the night that my credit card was calling me to confirm if my card had been stolen or if I had lost my damn mind. The hard thing for them is sharing who gets to hold it and play with it. Luckily, we also have an iPod touch which the 4 year old can navigate by herself. The ability to transfer a video or app that can keep their attention while we rack up the miles is amazing. While on the trip I thought back to when my younger brother and I used to sit in the back of the station wagon facing the wrong way with no seat belts and somehow we kept each other entertained. Although it is true that we sometimes had a Coleco Electronic Quarterback I remember at least one time when I younger brother tried to count all my freckles while driving to New Jersey where my Grandma lived. We kept ourselves busy with Mad Libs and those books you buy in gas stations with the yellow pens. Oh, and I remember reading lots of Mad magazines too. My son was able to read to himself but with my daughter who is 4, I made a rookie mistake in not packing her a coloring book. She can honestly color for hours without being disturbed especially if it is princess or kitty related. When travelling with the kids you almost have to stop every two hours. If not for your sanity but their smaller bladders. Once they stop doing an activity they would realize that they had to go BAD. OK, I will admit it. I am also a giant man with a tiny bladder so thank goodness I can blame it on them. I have to say though that rest area bathrooms are nasty. Trying to find a toilet that didn't have the result of too much BBQ and beer over Memorial Day was difficult and at one rest stop I had to physically run away from the building because the state of the potty was abhorrent. I didn't want my daughter sitting anywhere near that but what else could I do? Unfortunately,even the family bathroom was fouled up by someone which can be a haven when you stop right in the middle of the rush for lunch crowd and the women's line is out the door! The rest area is a culmination of every kind of person on Earth all converging at the same time. It's not pretty. So, if you didn't spring for the in car DVD player let me suggest purchasing an iPad. If you buy one that you are going to let your kids manhandle make sure you buy an Otterbox. These things have saved our iPad's life more than once and has been an absolute necessity as far as cases go. Thanks to Kate for telling us about it. Without that iPad I would have to brush up on my balloon animals just to keep the kids interested and I HATE clowns. So thank you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Zoo Crew

Recently, I went on a field trip with my daughter's preschool class. After only ten minutes into the day I started to wonder on which side of the fence were the wild animals supposed to be? While I know that going to the zoo is exciting I couldn't believe the unbridled enthusiasm these 3 and 4 year old kids were showing. They traveled in small groups and broke off from the pack like little voracious velociraptors. It was amazing to see how when I pulled out a snack for my daughter how quickly the "hungrys" spread throughout the clan. Little kids at this age walk without regard to their surroundings. I guess I can't blame them since they are seeing everything from 2-3 feet off the ground. Sometimes I forget just how big I must appear to them at 6'7". It's a marvel that I avoided stepping on all of them. At one point a boy, so excited to see the prairie dogs tripped and fell and was almost trampled by a dozen pairs of miniature Keds. Preschoolers don't go back for one of their own. If you go down it is hasta la vista, baby.
On Wednesday, I volunteered to chaperone my son's 1st grade trip to the Philly Zoo. If you know Philly fans you can understand just why they are so high strung. Seems like everywhere you go in Philly it is a madhouse. Much like shopping in a Wegmans, people have no regard for one another's personal space. Hey! I am getting groceries ova here! Get out of my way! I guess that I will be in charge of a small group of kids who will be identified by their school issued tie dyes that they made for this trip. This will be my first test as to whether I still have it as a teacher keeping the little animals alive and accounted for. I also will be backpacking with 8 sack lunches. Let's hope Chris Farley isn't the school bus driver.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Response to Top 10 Things Mothers Do Better Than Fathers

After reading this blog about Top Ten Things Mothers Do Better Than Fathers I have to respond.First of all, your blog is your domain. So I respect that you had the grapefruits to post your opinion. Secondly, now that your blog is out there I am sure you are getting all kinds of feedback so you can either listen with an open mind or stop reading altogether. In my opinion, THEYCALLMECODY, the negative stereotypes that you are portraying for fathers is hurtful to those of us dads who make a real effort to connect with our kids. As a fellow blogger I understand that everyone has shortcomings regardless of your gender but the way you generalized about all dads was just flat out sexist. In the recent backlash of the Huggies Ad fiasco I find this sort of generalization to be ignorant of all the dads that do all the things you fail to do with your own kid. I kept reading your blog hoping that there was going to be a sarcastic punchline but sadly no. I realize that your intention was probably to celebrate all the awesome things moms do day in and day out and while they are awesome you need to keep other dads out of your failures. Blogging about my own experiences has been a rewarding experience and as a stay at home dad of three kids I have found that all of those things that you mentioned are things that I am constantly trying hard to improve. For my readers who missed your blog let me list the things that you suggest that "Moms are better at than Dads" 1)Express emotions 2)Hug your children 3)Fix your child's injuries 4)Keep your kids clean 5)Snuggle 6)Go Out and About 7)Change diapers 8) Make sick kids feel better 9)Cooking 10)Preparing Healthy Foods. One thing I had to learn when staying at home was that my style was going to be way different from that of my wife's mode of operandi. While it is true that my wife may use one wipe to my five (P&G will be applauding me) I still get my kid's butt clean. Let's be honest, no one likes to change a diaper but when it comes to changing your kids do you jump at the change or just claim "you do it because you are better at it?" or do you ignore the stench and when she smells it say "If you smelled it, you change it"? The first time I changed my son's diaper I was shaking so much because I was afraid I was going to do something wrong. Here I am 7 years later and he is a fully functioning 1st grader who can wipe his own ass and I am proud of that. I can say, YES! I helped teach him that! As for the times you mentioned fixing injuries and making sick kids feel better I would say that again the way you handled it wasn't wrong it is just that maybe your wife is more used to dealing with it than you. Most parents have been barfed on, crapped on, peed on. You live, you learn. Next time you are giving them a bucket or trash can or even better...running them to the bathroom or bathtub, whatever works. I understand more than most that sense of panic. My wife is much more level headed when it comes to that but when my son broke his collarbone after moving to a new city where I didn't know where the nearest hospital was I figured out real fast that a trip to the ER with a baby in tow was going to be no picnic. Thank goodness for GPS. Being good at fixing things comes with practice. You weren't the lawn master or AV master in a day. It took trial and error, a whole lot of mucking about and probably a little swearing before you really understood how to get your surround sound and Blu-Ray player talking to one another. If you are the one rushing in to scoop them up after a cut, cleaning it up, putting on a Princess band aid (which does wonders for any girl) and giving a hug or a get well kiss. A Daddy kiss is just as magical as a Mommy kiss when it comes to boo boos. Just these little things can make all the difference. Making Healthy Food and Cooking again are going to rely on effort. Is this something you plan out for your kids? Are you researching what you want to feed them or should be feeding them? My wife has an uncanny ability to take ingredients out of the fridge and whip something up. Myself, I need a script. A recipe is nothing but directions. Can you follow directions? Then you can cook or at least attempt to cook. Kids need fruits, veggies, dairy, protein. Getting out and about can be a challenge for any parent regardless of gender. Sounds like your wife is just more efficient. Mine is too. A two hour trip to the zoo sometimes has me packing like I am climbing K2. What I learned as a stay at home dad is that if you think you are leaving at a certain time give yourself at least twice the amount of time you think it will take to get ready.Everyone rushes around. If you have kids you can't escape this so get used to it. Things that you mention like expressing emotions, hugging, snuggling are the opportunities where you will have the greatest impact on your children. Maybe you grew up in a family that didn't express themselves in these ways and that it perfectly fine. However, now is the time to really connect with your kids. Kids have 5 Love Languages If your kids are really responding to love through physical contact with your wife then making this connection with them will make your bond with them grow stronger. Giving hugs, high fives, reading a story next to each other,holding their hands while you walk around the block, or even play wrestling can have an impact. You have it in you to be the best dad you can be. Moms are awesome. There is no denying the impact our moms and our wives have had on us and our kids. Please, don't lump ineptitudes in your game towards ALL dads. However, you have pointed out a perfect opportunities to be like many of the dads out there including myself who are strengthening their bonds with their kids while staying at home. Jump at every chance to hold them, care for them, and protect them. Your love and relationship with them can only become deeper.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The things you will do for your daughters

Today, I played beauty shop. I'm a 6'7" guy with no hair. Just how much time do you think I have ever spent in a beauty salon? In fact, most of what I know about running a beauty salon has been from Queen Latifah's 2005 movie called Beauty Shop, Don't Mess With the Zohan, and Tabitha Takes Over. Being a guy who is follically challenged I just haven't spent the required time to REALLY know what goes on in there. But when it comes to my daughters I will play just about anything to make them happy. As a guy growing up with three brothers we were all about He-Man, G.I. Joe, and WWF wrestling. I loved pretending to kick people's asses and blowing them up with ridiculously looking weapons. I know that Battle Ready My Little Pony doesn't exist, although it should because my daughter has yet to hear my uncanny impression of a helicopter providing air support. Playing with your little girls is going to be all about the experience. Where are they going, what are they wearing, who are they going with? The endless scenarios that my four year old comes up with astonishes me because our version of getting dressed up to go someplace fancy has always been church. When you have kids you aren't going out for fancy dinners with the kids. If you are, then you are leaving them behind with a babysitter in their PJs to eat chicken nuggets and eat an ice cream sandwich for dessert if they are good. Despite my doubts of playing beauty shop, I think I pulled it off. I actually wore a wig from my choice Shaggy costume; the friend of Scooby Doo not the rasta rapper. We primped and talked about her day. We took turns "washing" each other's "hair". She asked me how much I wanted cut and I said two inches. She yelled and looked aghast. "Two inches!? That's way too much!" she said. 1 inch, 2 inches, whatever it takes was my reply. She blow dried my hair and even put in some conditioner. One she called "Bread" and the other "Ginger" so I went with my favorite island castaway. It sounded more posh than Bread even though bread DOES smell good I was afraid that any outside birds might attack me while going to the mailbox later. What I learned is that playing My Little Pony is exhausting and it makes me sleepy. Maybe it is because I am laying on the floor while playing and the Ginger was making me sleepy or maybe it is because of the endless talking and not enough butt kicking. However, despite these hurdles I will face in the future at least I know that 2 inches in too much and that I am lucky to have had this time with my girls.