Friday, January 29, 2016

Boys, Come Date My Daughters

I grew up in a house full of brothers. There were black eyes and broken windows, a garage overflowing with every sports related implement and a fridge that had to be stocked constantly as our bodies grew and our appetites remained ravenous. When I became a father for the first time I was somewhat relieved that the first baby was a boy. It was what I was used to and comfortable with and I knew my knowledge of what it takes to become a man would come in handy.

When my first daughter arrived, I was more scared because caring for girls was an unknown for me.I laugh now at the old me who thought it would be different. Caring for an infant whether it be a boy or girl is generally the same. I still love them the same way even if their diaper changes were done slightly differently.  But I sang them the same songs at night and attended to their cries the same and I still hug and kiss them goodnight the same.

Right around the time I started staying at home is when I discovered that how I was raising them, as a stay at home dad might have a huge impact on them later in life. I wondered how me being with them at home might change their perceptions about their own lives in the future. I wondered how watching their mommy leave for work every morning would strengthen them when it came to their future ambition for the workplace or in seeing their father at home with them would they also make that choice for their family?

That's why it bothers me when I see dads wearing shirts setting rules for dating their daughters. I get weary of the photos of dad with a gun threatening future suitors with violence if they don't behave themselves. I'm all for protecting my daughters but this implied violence towards young men accomplishes nothing.

How about we just teach our young boys what respect and love are truly about and give them the tools to make good decisions? We can be better fathers by setting the example for the next generation and not using scare tactics. Our daughters are not unattainable prizes to be won, they are treasures to be cherished.

In a post on Facebook recently, a soon to be dad posted that if he and his wife have a baby girl, that he hoped she would be born ugly. Let that sink in for a moment.

While it may have been in jest, the rudimentary feeling there is that women aren't safe from men because we only think of one thing. It's exactly this thinking that an attractive young girl is going to have a tough time in the world today, why we must prepare them better as fathers who believe in them.

Here's some news for that guy. Locking your daughter up in an ivory tower is never going to go well. Do me a favor new dad, go see Tangled right away. If you have a daughter, she's going to be beautiful. You're going to look at her and see yourself or your wife in her eyes or her little nose. You'll hear yourself in her laugh and spend hours looking at her toes. Those same toes will carry her far away someday.

She's going to be curious about what is out there and you'll want to protect her. But here's the thing, you'll also want to watch what she becomes. I can tell you firsthand that raising a daughter is nothing short of magical. She will go through an amazing transformation seemingly overnight from the helpless little girl you once held in your arms to the teenager asking for the keys to the car. Don't keep her from the world.

Both of my daughters are beautiful. They are smart. They are tenacious. I've seen those traits before somewhere. Oh yeah, from their mom! I mean, I purposely dated their mother because of those attributes. Instead of being afraid of your daughter garnering attention for who she is, embrace it.

I get it, you're scared. You think that the world is inherently evil and that they can't fend for themselves. Trust me when I say this. That keeping her from experiencing anger, fear, and sadness will only make her wonder what else is out there.

Instead of relying on threats, let's empower our daughters. Let's give them the tools they need to succeed. Your gun will never protect them in the way their humor, wit, and creativity ever will. Let's encourage them to be strong and smart. Let's be better fathers by teaching them to be curious and inquisitive. Let's learn when to step back so they can be independent women who will make their own decisions and learn from them. Most of all, let's be there to support them when they fall and believe in them so they get back up.

You'll do all of this without even realizing when she is a baby. She'll be curious about the world. She will want to explore and you'll let her. Some day, she will be reaching for a block and you will want to give it to her but know you should hold back. You will want her to get there so badly you might be tempted to just give it to her.

Some days she will never get there and she will cry like it's the end of the world. That's when you'll scoop her up in your arms and tell her it will be okay. She will forget all about that block and you'll be there to console her. Then there will come a day when she finally reaches that infernal block and raises it triumphantly in her little hand. That's when she will look at you with the light catching her eyes and you'll say to yourself "Everything about you is beautiful" and she will smile and say "Thanks Dad."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Getting By Winter With A Little Help From My Friend

My kids are sick, my wife has a sore throat, and I'm the last man standing in the germ infested house knowing things still need to get done no matter how I'm feeling. Winter Storm Jonas was bearing down on Philadelphia last week and people were buying milk and bread from the grocery store like an asteroid was hurtling towards the Earth. I saw people at the gas station loading up on gasoline like doomsday preppers and actually witnessed someone stocking up on toilet paper knowing they might be eating frozen burritos cooked in a fireplace for the next week.

As Jonas was bearing down on the East Coast, I had to laugh at the Midwesterners like The Rock Father claiming to be toughing it out through the cold. Oh, you have lake effect snow? That's cute. We're getting pounded from forty mile per hour winds and are slowly being buried alive by snow. There's a reason it's called a Nor'easter and not a Mid'wester.

Don't even get me started on those West Coast storm wannabes like Patrick Quinn from Life of Dad who claim they are toughing it out. Those California guys think it's cold when they have to put on pants instead of shorts and get scared when Mickey Mouse comes out and doesn't see his shadow. That's not tough guys, it's sad.

What is tough is braving the winds and snow of a blizzard knowing you have to make a path to what used to be a street. Being from the Windy City it has prepared me for the worst. The first purchase I made after my wife and I got married was the biggest baddest snowblower I could find. I call her Black Thunder and she has never let me down. Through record winters in Chicago, Rochester, and Philadelphia it helps to have a friend to help you get through it all.

While Black Thunder is there for me when a blizzard hits she can't help me when that tickle hits my throat. That sore throat is your body's first indication that a cold is coming so how can we tough it out when the driveway is waiting to swallow me alive?  Did you know back in the day that people used to grease their throat with chicken fat or lard and then placed dirty socks around their throat to induce sweating just find relief from a sore throat? Yikes. Thanks to Fisherman's Friend you don't have to suffer through your teen's dirty gym socks for a cure.

Reach for Fisherman's Friend lozenges instead to calm that tickle or soreness associated with the attack on your gullet. Fisherman’s Friend’s throat lozenges are the toughest on the market, originally formulated in 1865 for deep-sea fishermen from Fleetwood, England. If it was good enough for them, imagine all the good it will do for you. The All Natural Mentol & Eucalyptus flavor lozenges offer the highest allowable dosage of menthol per lozenge, a whole 10 mgs! Who wants to take one of these over and over again when you can knock that tickle out with one punch?

If it was good enough for deep-sea fisherman, it's definitely tough enough for me. In Original Extra Strong and Sugar Free Cherry both varieties will provide strong relief for those of us that are strong enough to handle it. No joke, my wife used them on her sore throat and had to take them out three times before she could even finish one. That is one tough lozenge to overpower the strongest woman I know!

Thanks to Fisherman's Friend lozenges I was a able to battle through 28 inches of snow that fell in 24 hours, dug out my car buried by drifting snow, and still found time to build a snowman or three with the kids. No one does #ToughRelief better than Fisherman's Friend when battling a real winter here on the East Coast. By the time you're done knocking out that tickle in your throat, it won't seem like winter in the slightest. Isn't it nice to know you've got a friend to help you get through it all?

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Fisherman’s Friend for this promotion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Year, New Adventures

The beginning is a good place to start. When the New Year rolls around resolutions get bandied about like kittens with string we make resolutions to give ourselves hope for this new chapter in our lives. This year I'm really going to stick to my diet. This year I am going to religiously exercise. This is finally the year I won't overindulge in anything!

Here is what will happen for the majority of us. We'll see the influx of new people we've never seen at the gym. We'll see them at the grocery store buying only organic food. We won't see them at the donut shop every morning getting their usual 64 ounce mocha coffee and chocolate glazed long john. Then, it will happen as it happens every year. We won't see them anymore as they drop off into old habits and give into temptations that they can't resist.

So let's vow to make a resolution we will stick with this year and promise ourselves to go on more adventures with our families. Whether it be braving the bitter cold of winter to go snow tubing or shoveling the front driveway together whatever you do, do it together. Hold on a second.

Wait, what am I saying? Freezing my rear end off outside in sub zero temperatures does not sound like a fun time. You know what does sound fun? Snuggling up on the couch where there may or may not be a groove created from my derriere with a fleece blanket covering ninety percent of my body while we watch funny shows together. Sipping on warm hot chocolate with the fireplace going? That sounds like the right kind of family bonding that's made for me!

So what am I watching in the new year? I've found my top three family friendly and top three just for me shows on Netflix. Get ready to binge watch no matter where you are this frigid winter and cozy up to my list instead.


Sophia The First - New Episodes!

Sophia is the rags to riches princess that can talk with animals and she's learning slowly what it takes to be a real princess. My daughter is learning many social skills from this show like accepting others for who they are, not what they are, what it means to be a true friend, and how to deal with adversity when things don't go your way. Helped along by friends and family, Sophia always seems to find a lesson among the difficulty she faces as a young girl growing up.

Sammy & Co.

You probably remember Sammy from the movie A Turtle Tale. Well, Sammy has grown up and is now a grandfather raising his granddaughter and her friends among the reef. The kids learn valuable lessons about responsibility and bravery all the while learning that trusting each other is the most important lesson they should always follow. With plenty of action and silly underwater fun, it is sure to get your kids clambering towards the minivan to take them to swim lessons.

Kate & Mim Mim

Remember when you were a kid and you pretended that your stuff animals came to life? That's what Kate does in this show only when she says a special phrase she is automatically transported to a world where her purple bunny Mim Mim lives. Kate's play in the real world transfers over to this world and she goes on adventures figuring out tough questions she has along the way with her friends.


Real Rob 

Follow Rob Schneider in this hilarious show about his family in real life. It stars Rob and his real wife Patricia Schneider as they deal with celebrity status, his role as a father, and his super creepy but wildly efficient stalker. His wife made my wife laugh so hard she was literally crying. If you've had a hard day and need a good laugh, this is the show for you.

Jessica Jones 

In a world where female super heroes are starting to come into their own, Jessica Jones is a gritty look at what it would be like for a super to live among us normal humans without opting for tights and cape. Centered around the Marvel character of the same name, Jessica Jones is a private investigator dealing with a sordid past and she tries to overcome her demons while retaining her sanity. She's a badass but be warned, you shouldn't be watching this around your kids because of the adult content. Save this show for when they've gone off to bed.

Making a Murderer

If you haven't seen this documentary about Steven Avery's life you need to immediately watch it. The show revolves around Avery's life in Manitowoc County and his dealings with the police in Wisconsin. This show will shock and surprise you. It may even make you mad and frustrated. However you look at it, it is a must see and you'll find yourself sucked in to its compelling story.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The 7 Deadly Sins of Holiday Eating

The package arrived right before Christmas and the kids were used to seeing boxes piled on the front step. This one was different though as we couldn't tell who it was from. "What's in the box? What's in the box!" they exclaimed as I fumbled for the scissors. It wasn't a sick joke from Kevin Spacey and it had nothing to do with Gwenyth Paltrow's head. It was a box full of #PinkRelief from Pepto- Bismol. The box had me thinking about all the ways we sin against our usual eating habits when the holidays roll around.

It starts right around the end of October. First it's the Halloween parent tax, then it is Grandma's special Thanksgiving stuffing. It's after your family calls you the human garbage disposal that you start to realize that it's just not possible to maintain the healthy eating facade over the holidays. When your mom asks you "Would you like another mountain of sweet potatoes?" you may start to think "How is this going to affect me later?"

The problem for me is, my metabolism and stomach just aren't what they used to be anymore. Passing the forty year threshold has taught me that I can't just eat whatever I want anymore. Internally though, my mind is still stuck in the glorious college days when eating disgusting things was just a way of life. Realistically, I know I shouldn't eat certain things because of the way my body reacts to it. If you've ever purposely chosen a hard chair over a soft chair to contain your busting insides after trying to go back to the place where you once ate 20 atomic wings, you probably know what I'm saying. I just can't hang with that guy anymore without having serious consequences.

Do you carry Pepto wherever you go? I do. In fact, my wife and I have a safe word to indicate to her in public that I am about to erupt. The safe word came after a bad reaction from some delivery food. When things are spiraling out of control I will say "Domino Fred" named after the delivery guy who brought my demise. I used the word at the worst possible time when my wife had just started a new job.  My wife's boss wanted to introduce her to Philly in the best way possible so he decided to take us to every cheese steak place in the city. One cheese steak in though, the jalapeno poppers and wit were not getting along and I shifted nervously in the back seat trying to make it go away. It didn't and I screamed out Domino Fred! Domino Fred! until he pulled over and I ran for it leaving her to explain why I had practically jumped out of a moving car and headed for the nearest lobby bathroom.

It doesn't stop there though especially when I'm travelling. I've suffered from IBS and traveler's diarrhea enough to know that I'd hate to be stuck on an airplane making that long walk to the in-flight lavatory while crop dusting everyone behind me. Maybe it's the sense of pride that gets in the way. Nope, it's the stupidity. I know what jalapenos do to me but I love them so. Crowding around the spicy cheese dip might be a good thing during the holiday party but the aftermath is not pretty.  For all these reasons and more it makes sense to have Pepto's #PinkRelief on hand not only for the holidays but any time our eyes get bigger than our stomach. Here are seven reasons why I still punish myself to this day.

1. Pride

I grew up with three brothers and ate my food with my arms protecting my plate so they wouldn't steal my portions. I'll be damned if I am going to let them out eat me or out spice me. We idiotically add jalapenos to every meal and think that a hot sauce designed to make your posterior leak like a faucet will actually be good for us. I want to be the one victoriously standing, okay well sitting bloated, while my father marvels at the number of helpings I had at the family style holiday buffet. This is usually followed you thinking unbuttoning your top pants button is going to help with that relief. Now your family knows the real reason you didn't tuck in your shirt for the holiday picture. Did you walk into the family celebration only to be rolled out afterwards? Pepto will be there for you to alleviate the indigestion.

2. Gluttony

Honey roasted ham. Turkey with all the trimmings. Pork tenderloin wrapped up in strings. These are a few of my favorite things. When your grandma, heaps a helping upon your plate, you can't shout out that you need her to wait. When your plate tips because it's far too full, you decide that your salad plate can handle the overflow. We LOVE to overdo it during the holidays like we are getting a holiday hall pass for our stomachs. Eating everything in sight because it is there isn't a good choice but it's one we often make because "Hey! I'm on vacation now!"  Isn't it comforting to know that Pepto has your back for your poor choices and can help you get through that upset stomach?

3. Lust

I recently attended a Christmas party where everything was wrapped in bacon. Bacon wrapped scallops, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, bacon wrapped dates filled with cream cheese. If you're reading this you've probably already decided to have a BLT for lunch and I don't blame you. Bacon is ridiculously good.  Is it weird to lust after a food as delicious as bacon? No. Keep calm and bacon on. But if all that grease is making you pay the price the next day, reach for the Pepto and put out that fire burning in your belly.

4. Greed

We've all been there. We've posted up in front of the holiday spread around the donuts like Shaq in his heyday grabbing bear claws like they were rebounds. We take the last cup of coffee, stab at the last piece of food, and vie for the final coffee cake crumbs like the Grinch in a Who's refrigerator. It's the self loathing afterward and often the cramps that remind us of our poor choices later.  Good thing Pepto provides #PinkRelief for our tummy troubles.

5. Envy

Ever go to a restaurant and order the exact wrong thing even though you sent the server away three times? It's that sinking feeling in your gut as you watch another person eating the very thing you should have ordered. Instead, of that catch of the day that should have been thrown back is sitting in front of you and it seems to not be processing nicely. It's only when we are later sitting on the throne that we relive those envious mistakes as if in slow motion replay. Good thing for us #PinkRelief is just a dose away from giving us respite from our burning mistakes.

6. Sloth

It's always a great idea to eat a ton of food and directly end in a sedentary stasis for hours on end. If you've eaten a turducken and watched football for two days straight, it's no wonder your insides feel like a cement truck. We didn't stop there though as the Christmas cookies came out and your aunt is eyeing you with giddy anticipation. She loves to watch you scarf down her culinary contribution almost as much as she loves pinching your cheeks and saying "How BIG you are!" even though you are a grown man. Unfortunately, my wife takes the brunt of this punishment as the bedroom soon becomes a gas chamber. Luckily, Pepto's #PinkRelief handles gas associated with my digestive by-products.

7. Wrath

You've made it through your family's holiday shenanigans and it's time to go home but all that eating has left you feeling rather nauseous. Your mom doesn't want all these leftovers in her fridge as apparently dad doesn't need to eat anything. But you are eyeing the turkey left over from earlier afraid because you feel like the cheese plate, the green bean casserole, and that turkey leg you tried to eat as if you were at Medieval Times are not getting along anymore now that you are vertical. Gravity can do that to a person. While mom is stuffing the family scraps into a lime green coffin all you can think about is rushing home to have quality time with your toilet.

FTC Discalimer: I was compensated for this post by Pepto Bismol and received product for my post. All opinions expressed are my own but you should heed my warning. Uh oh, DOMINO FRED!