Strong, Weak and Vulnerable At The Same Time

by Kevin

guest_post_imgThese past few months have been quite the experience of being a dad and plenty more unsuspecting roller coaster turns to come I am sure. I have written quite a number of posts relating to the struggles and the coping (lack of) of ET suffering from GERD, but I never actually started from the beginning as such.

Have you ever been strong, weak and vulnerable at the same time? Read on to find out, why I felt this way all at once.

Ever since our son ET (real initials) was born, initially I was overcome with such happiness and joy that literally everything else in my world did not matter as long as I had both my wife and son by my side.

We were in the hospital for the most part of the first week in trying to set up some routine in his feeding patterns and getting the advice we so desperately needed from the helpful staff of midwives and nurses.

As the days and weeks progressed, things were shaping up to be great, we were told one great news to another and that it would only really be a matter of days before we can take our son home. As quickly as we were told that we could, we also quickly found out we could not take him home. After a number of tests and monitoring on the little fellow, we were told he had a mild case of Jaundice which is essentially a yellowness in the skin.

Our little guy had to undergo photo-therapy which involved him being stripped down to his nappy and a blindfold put on and carefully monitored via number of cords and placed inside a transparent box housed with a couple of UV-based lights.

We were told he had to be under these lights essentially for a full twenty four hour period while maintaining the regular three hour feeding intervals at the time.

As the days progressed, ironically our level of sleep increased because we knew that with him being in the nursery and carefully monitored by the doctors and midwives, we ended up booking a staying in room in the ward and we could sleep knowing we would be the first to hear of anything from the midwives regarding ET.

After the first session of photo-therapy, we were told his levels of Jaundice had decreased quite significantly and that after a few more standard checks we would finally take ET home. During the moments at home we had been anticipating taking him home for such a long time, we were in for quite a ride, the feeding hours seem to jump quite erratically, ranging from some two and half hours to three hours and one piece of advice we were told by one of the midwives before we began the process of going home was “Remember, just feed on demand when at home”

Because of her profession, we figured this midwife must know what she is talking about, seems to make sense we thought he is obviously growing and getting older by the day, it must be normal for babies to get to the on demand feed stage this early in their life, of course later on we were told by other medical professionals this should not happen at this early in his life and that we still should have continued to wake ET up every three hours for his feed.

We had taken ET home, and he was still being breastfed at this point, the first night was great feeling we followed every advice we could remember from the hospital, we changed his nappies, fed him, carried him as the days went on and everything seemed great.

I can’t remember exactly when we started to notice a change in his behaviour. It was after just one day, we had began to notice his complexion had seemed a little yellow and that is when we decided to call the hospital, and after a few calls back and fourth and monitoring from home, we took him in for observation.

And this is when we essentially had what felt like everything thrown in our face, his was underweight, his Jaundice level had rebounded and significantly higher than what they were before the first photo-therapy session and so again he was under the UV-lights for round two of photo-therapy. Even though we as a family had gone through with ET being under the UV-lights the first time, the second time felt such like a tonne of bricks just came crumbling down on us, it was harder on us to accept the fact he had to go through such an experience again and I think being able to take him home for such a short amount of time before hand had contributed to this.

After a full photo-therapy session, we were essentially given the green light to once again take him home, again everything was going well initially until we started to notice and suspect he wasn’t eating a much as he should have and as days and weeks progressed, we noticed we had such difficultly in settling him after a feed.

We thought this is just normal as all babies cry and need soothing and settling but we didn’t think too much of it. During a routine check up see an excellent paediatrician, he officially diagnosed ET with GERD (severe reflux)

The anticipation of become a father, I had read up on all I could to at least think that I was going to be prepared in some way or another, but never in my mind did I anticipate even the thought of a child suffering from GERD.

All up to this point before finding out ET has GERD, I felt incredibly strong for ET, being able to provide for him, be able to look after and nurture him and suddenly feeling weak. As the weeks progressed, we began to notice a change and a lot of trial and error with his medication to try and suppress his reflux, we felt like we were on top of it all, we had overcome his GERD and for the most part it is definitely under control.

Occasionally when I am feeding him (on prescription formula), and trying to settle and soothe him, I am finding it very difficult and tends to push on my patience, I end up being frustrated and I unfortunately take it out on those around me that mean to me the most and it is incredibly unfair on them, I feel tremendously vulnerable and weak during this moments while at the same time feeling I should be stronger, to be there for my son, to provide for him.

Being a parent is definitely the hardest thing I have done in my life and having such an overwhelming rush of feeling strong, weak and vulnerable at the same time has made me realise that in some strange way this is all perfectly normal and that things do happen for a reason and has made me take a step back and realise that the real person who is having most difficult time is ET who has to go through the pain from GERD and dealing with an incredibly short-tempered excuse of a father during those times when he needed it the most.

Do I feel incredibly stupid for the way I have been handling this whole situation? Of course, I am working on this and as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words and I vow to prove that to the fullest not only for myself so I can look in the mirror and be proud of who I see, but for my wife, for those around me that care about me, for those I love and care and most importantly for our son ET.

WWF in Fatherhood? Differences in Raising Boys and Girls.

As a father of two girls there is a perceived notion that you must raise your daughters in a certain way (or at least I sometimes get this impression form the people that I interact with). At the same time, when I talk to fathers of boys, I hear differing things about their impressions and the ways in which they feel that they can and should raise their boys as well.

For girls, there is the impression that society expects that they will be introduced to dolls, dress up and the like and that fathers will support this feminine societal view. While boys are given toy guns, legos, cars or trucks to solidify their manhood. Who says though that it has to be this way? Who says that a girl can’t love playing with cars or trucks? Who says that a boy cannot like playing with a Cabbage Patch Kid doll?

For me, I have always encouraged my girls to do what they want to do. Whether this is playing baseball or dolls, dress up or cars, I am encouraging them to be the person that they want to be while at the same time encouraging them to explore areas outside of the normal societal mores.

As a father of two girls there is a perceived notion that you must raise your daughters in a certain way (or at least I sometimes get this impression form the people that I interact with). At the same time, when I talk to fathers of boys, I hear differing things about their impressions and the ways in which they feel that they can and should raise their boys as well.

For girls, there is the impression that society expects that they will be introduced to dolls, dress up and the like and that fathers will support this feminine societal view. While boys are given toy guns, legos, cars or trucks to solidify their manhood. Who says though that it has to be this way? Who says that a girl can’t love playing with cars or trucks? Who says that a boy cannot like playing with a Cabbage Patch Kid doll?

For me, I have always encouraged my girls to do what they want to do. Whether this is playing baseball or dolls, dress up or cars, I am encouraging them to be the person that they want to be while at the same time encouraging them to explore areas outside of the normal societal mores.

I have been encouraging this from an early age and I show this not only in the things that I let them see and try, but also in the things that I do with them. Thus, whether it is wrestling and roughhousing with them on the floor or dancing will we can’t see straight, I am pushing myself to look outside of the box while at the same time encouraging them to explore non-traditional society roles and activities.

I truly believe that fathers who do this are building their daughters into strong, well-adjusted members of society that will be able to stand on their own two feel and who will be able to decide for themselves in the end what is right and what they will stand for. In the end, that is what I want for my daughters. I want them to be self-sufficient and I want them to know that no matter what society will say that they can do and be what they want to be no matter what!

What about you? How do you encourage this in your own children?

It doesn’t take sharing a roof to be a dad.

I watched a movie tonight that I have seen a few times before. The movie was “The Blind Side”. You know, the one with Sandra Bullock and that big ol’ football player that made it to the NFL. Yeah, that one, the one that makes you just want to adopt some poor kid off the street and set him up for a career with a pro sports team. It’s a great movie, with a great message, but tonight it started my gravy-train a thinkin’ ’bout something else.

Even my wife commented on it. I am a lot like Sandra Bullock’s character. I would take absolutely every kid in that ever needed me. Maybe it’s my years as a youth pastor, but I have laid in bed at night thinking about how I could remodel the downstairs of my house to allow for two more bedrooms. Then, if I swapped out the kids’ twin  beds for bunk beds, I could sleep 6 kids upstairs, 4 downstairs. That’s a whole lotta youngins. I’d do it in a heartbeat, and my wife knows it. We talk about it constantly. Someday it will happen, but not right now. Right now we have law school, Gav’s development, and the focus on my career. So we will wait to take that giant leap.

I didn’t exactly have the normal father-son relationship that most kids have. My parents were married for most of my childhood, and got divorcced when I was 15. We moved just a few miles away from my father. While we were only miles apart geographically, we were thousands of miles apart emotionally. He was a no-nonsense type of guy, and I have always been a goofball. I have always been independent, and he felt the need to control everyting around him. Needless to say, we were never close, at all. Don’t get me wrong, people say that he is a great guy and would do anything for anyone, I’m just not one of those people.

I don’t necessarily remember looking for that “fatherly” relationship, but I remember when I found it.

Growing up, my family was very involved in church, and we had gone to the same church for as long as I could remember. Like most churches, we were very close with most of the people that attended. When I was a teenager, a young preacher joined our congregation, and started teaching a class. I got to know Robb very well, and became very close to him. He was only a few years older than me, so I soon started seeing him as a big brother. He lived next door to me, as well, so we spent a lot of time together outside of church. I came to see Robb as an authority figure, as he always seemws to be able to give great advice on anything that I was facing. I trusted him, felt comfortable with him, and soon started seeking his approval on different things in my life.

I looked up to Robb like I imagine most kids do to their father. I sought his advice on so many decisions in my life, and felt that I could confide absolutely anything in the world to him. I felt safer when he was around, wanted to absorb anything that he said, and felt so very disappointed in myself when I let him down. He was always there when I needed him, no matter what time of day or night it was. I remember sitting on his front porch (which was only a few feet away from mine), watching a lightning storm, feeling like I was miles away from anything that bothered me.

Robb wasn’t my father. He wasn’t my step-father, and he didn’t adopt me. I didn’t even live in his house, although I was there nearly as much as I was in my own. We didn’t share a last name. We didn’t share anything other than a bond. Robb didn’t have kids, and I doubt that he saw me as one of his kids. I think that he just saw me as a kid who needed someone to just listen, give a litte advice, and pat me on the back every now and then. He kicked my butt when I needed it, picked m up when I fell, and made me smile when I needed to. He was a father-figure to me, without ever being a father to me.

When I watched that movie tonight, I thought about how I want to help every needy child that I come across. I thought about how full my house would quickly become, and how happy that would make me. Eventually, though, the square footage will run out. I won’t be able to fit anymore beds into my house, even after an Extreme Home Makeover. There are going to be some kids that I just can’t provide for.

Then I realized that they don’t necessarily have to live under my roof. There are so many children, just like I was, that aren’t looking for someone to move into their homes, but they are looking for someone to take an interest in what they are doing. They are looking for someone who cares about what they are going through, who will listen when they need to vent, and who will be there for them when something goes bad or good. Someone to share the joy and the frustration.

So, throughout these next few months, as we finish law school, and OT and ABA therapy and work on opening new restaurants, I know that I won’t have the option to adopt, take in foster children, or even just have some random kid in need stay in my house. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be a dad to someone who needs it. That doesn’t mean that I won’t positively impact some child’s life, just by being there, by being involved. It doesn’t take sharing a roof to be a dad.

Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When To Fold ‘Em

As a father there are times when I just want to freeze time and not let my girls get any older. I want to capture their innocence and bottle it up so that they will always know what it was like to be free of inhibition, doubt, and the other cares of the world.

As a father there are times when I just want to freeze time and not let my girls get any older. I want to capture their innocence and bottle it up so that they will always know what it was like to be free of inhibition, doubt, and the other cares of the world. In speaking to other parents, I know that they feel similar, and as you child gets ready to go to school for the first time, the reality hits you that this innocence could be shattered at the slightest word, action or thought that someone else may interject and there is nothing that you can do about it besides try and help your child to be ready and willing to stand up for themselves on their own two feet.

The question that continues to ring through my brain is how to best do this, and how best to slowly let go of the reigns that I have to allow for my daughters independence and personalities to develop and flourish on their own.

As Diva-J has gotten older J-Mom and I have continually played the game of give and take and as she starts to become more responsible in some areas, we tend to give a bit more in regards to autonomy, which I think is the nature of parenting. On the other hand, as I said earlier, it is s nice to have your little child, and it is difficult to let that go as they get older.

Many of the resources I found when thinking about this topic talk about the letting go process parents go through within the College years. I am thinking of something different as you might have guessed. I am truly thinking about the process of shedding my presumptions and allowing my children to become the people that they will become. This is not to say that J-Mom and I will not do my best to mold and instill in them the things that we believe deeply as is our responsibility as parents, because we will. Instead, I continue to find that I need to step back and allow her to make mistakes. I need to allow her to fail (which is not easy). I need to let her learn lessons that are not always going to be easy to learn.

In thinking about this, I came across a few interesting links that I thought I would share with all of you:

Today think about your own children and write down your thoughts on when you feel that you MUST hold them, when you MUST fold them, when you MUST walk away and when you MUST run i. Once you come up with this list share it with us… would love to hear your thoughts!

Their Lives Will Not Be Like A Movie Romance

Emulating health relationships is important for our children, as most kids today get something of a warped sense of how relationships work as they watch movies, reality TV and the like. Even through billboards, magazine ad and articles and other such material, our children today are being immersed by a plethora of images that somewhat skews their sense of what does and what does not constitute healthy relationships.

Emulating health relationships is important for our children, as most kids today get something of a warped sense of how relationships work as they watch movies, reality TV and the like. Even through billboards, magazine ad and articles and other such material, our children today are being immersed by a plethora of images that somewhat skews their sense of what does and what does not constitute healthy relationships.

 

As this image portrays, one would believe that Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara were the perfect couple (that is until you watch more parts of the movie – beyond this scene that is). Thus, though this may look very real in a young it is in fact much more complex than one might see on the big screen.

 

This imagery starts when they are young with movies that are geared for kids such as from Disney such as: Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid (all favorites in the Divadom). While I am not saying these movies are bad examples for kids, I am saying that our children are exposed at an early age to the idea that in relationships everything works out in the end and there is little strife or work that has to occur in regards to relationships. While children may not understand the complexities of relationships they will understand the concept of They Lived Happily Ever After” and as parents it is difficult to help them understand that this does happen, but not always. It becomes our job as they get older to understand the reality of life that surround them in regards to relationships and help them to see what a healthy relationship truly is.

 

Hopefully they are seeing this on a daily basis within your own home between parents or between other family members. In some homes though I know that there may not always be healthy relationships occurring. These are the children that I end up worrying about.

 

On the following site I found a breakdown at what constitutes healthy versus unhealthy relationships. They stated that:

Healthy Relationship

The signs of a healthy relationship include:

  • Loving and taking care of yourself
  • Respecting your partner’s right to be himself or herself
  • Having a life outside the relationship, with your own friends and your own activities
  • Making decisions together, each partner compromising when necessary
  • Resolving conflicts through open and honest communication
  • Having more good times in the relationship than bad

Unhealthy Relationship

The signs of an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Focusing all your energy on loving and caring for your partner
  • Trying to change your partner to be what you want them to be
  • Dropping friends and family or activities you enjoy
  • One partner makes all the decisions
  • One partner yells, hits, or throws things at the other during arguments
  • Having more bad times in the relationship than good

 

In thinking about and researching this, I found the following links that I wanted to share with all of you:

 

So today think about the relationships that you have within your life that interact with your children. As you are thinking about these answer the following questions:

  1. Are these relationships healthy for my children? Why or why not?
  2. How can I make my relationships healthier for my children?
  3. How can I help my children understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships?

How would you answer these questions for yourself?

 


New Year. Same Old Parents.

The New Year has started much like the old. My son still wakes up early – way too early. He still wants – nay, needs – his milk. It must be the perfect temperature in that green sippy cup or he sends it back. I am the lucky one who prepares this gourmet morning aperitif. It must be Daddy and no one else. My wife, of course, doesn’t argue this point.

The cars must be lined up with Lightning McQueen first and then the police car that is missing its lights and both doors. The fire engine with no ladder and with the tire that keeps coming off because it was broken off several months ago must be at the end of the line.

It still takes 30 minutes to get him into the tub and another 30 to get him out. Imploring and groveling only makes his eyes twinkle more and using force only amplifies the

His favorite teddy bear blanky is still his favorite as the missing eye and multiple gaps in the fabric can attest.

He will not approach an apple or strawberry unless milk and a blender are involved.

He still finds a quiet corner that is out of sight to poop in peace.

Thursday is still his favorite day to go to day care because there is music and dance.

He still calls red meat and tuna fish: “chicken”.

Peek-a-boo still gets him into fits of uncontrollable laughter that lead to the hiccups and even more laughter.

He still furrows his eyebrows and worries when they take Curious George away from the man with the yellow hat.

He still gets angry at the remote control car because he wants to push it himself.

He still insists that Alicia Keys sings “Julia, Julia” instead of “New York, New York”.

Getting him dressed and out of the door in the morning still requires a well thought out strategy that involves deception, make believe, candy trails and many more things that you read about in the original Brothers Grimm stories.

The word “Gelato” still implies ice cream, most liquid dairy, cupcake icing and smoothies.

The arrival of relatives during the holiday still means tossing an entire year of painstaking discipline and schedule building out the window.

“I want it!” still implies urgency.

“I need it!” still implies immediacy.

“No!” still means no. And it is still his favorite phrase.

The only thing different from last year is that my wife and I fell asleep before midnight on December 31st. I am not complaining. I like that there have not been any dramatic “changes”. They are inevitable, but for now I like where we are and hope to enjoy it while it lasts. We’ll see what the New Year brings.

I wish all of you and yours a wonderful 2011.

Cat’s in The City

Readers, I sense an uneasiness in the air. A feeling that many of you may be concerned for the state of Dad Blogging. After all 2010, proclaimed far and wide as The Year of the Dad Blogger, is quickly drawing to a close. In fact, at the time this post is published, there will only be one short day remaining before all Dad Bloggers from Seattle to Shanghai unceremoniously turn back into pumpkins only to be dropped from 3rd story windows onto sidewalks below.

Readers, I sense an uneasiness in the air. A feeling that many of you may be concerned for the state of Dad Blogging.  After all 2010, proclaimed far and wide as The Year of the Dad Blogger, is quickly drawing to a close.  In fact, at the time this post is published, there will only be one short day remaining before all Dad Bloggers from Seattle to Shanghai unceremoniously turn back into pumpkins only to be dropped from 3rd story windows onto sidewalks below.  Right?  I mean you might have noticed that the posting has been a bit, um, scant around here recently. 

Not to worry. We here at Dad Revolution like many of you I suspect, have been a bit caught up in the rush and hum of the holiday season.  We will still be here once the clock strikes midnight Saturday morning and Old Lang Syne courses steadily across the country like The Wave swallowing up fans at a local sports stadium.

And, even though I am officially off work this week, I am not imune to the time constraints that this time of year ushers in.  With that in mind, rather than a new post today I am going to repost one of my favorites from the past year over at my personal blog ‘Luke, I am Your Father’.  It is from July, titled Catch 42, and is about father and son bonding.  It will also be included in a best of the year post I plan to publish there in the next couple of days. 

So, forgive my laziness.  But if you enjoy it, leave me a comment with a link to one of your favorite posts from the past year. I would love to read them.

My son turned three just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw?”, I said
“I got a lot to do”, “but…that’s okay”

 And perhaps he thought, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”

My apologies to Harry Chapin, but just the other day – Lukas’ 3rd birthday – we were recovering in our living room from the Pirate party we had had earlier that afternoon. My parents were also here and we were all pretty exhausted. In fact my dad was starting to doze off on the couch.

Lukas, on the other hand, was up from his nap and looking for fun. After playing with a few of the toys he had received earlier in the day he got up and ran off to the foyer. When he returned he was holding a baseball and two gloves, one just his size.
“Baseball!” he exclaimed, holding the mitts over his head.

“Do you want to play catch Buddy?”

“Yeah”

“Okay, in one minute. Stay here”

And with that, I walked to the foyer myself and returned with another adult sized glove. I tossed it to my old man, who had perked up upon hearing the interchange. A smile crept over his face at this. At this point, with new life breathed into us, we all made our way to the back yard for our very first three generational game of catch with a baseball.
Lukas was pretty excited, and seemed to be doing pretty well with his throws, but still needed some work with keeping the mitt on and catching with it. However, what he lacked in polish, he more than made up for with enthusiasm and creativity in his goofy wind-ups while preparing to throw the ball.

In between the short throws and catches to Lukas, my dad and I were able to stretch things out to a longer distance and begin feel the zing of horsehide smacking leather. It was, after all, my dad who taught me to throw and catch a baseball. Probably at around the same age that Lukas is now. It felt really good. It always does when we can work in a game of catch.

“You do realize this is my Little League glove?” I said to my father, holding up my mitt as we exchanged tosses. “Really?” He replied. “Yeah, I won it that year for selling the most candy bars. I think you told all the vendors who stopped by the farm that they had to buy several bars or you wouldn’t do business with them anymore”. And at that we both laughed.

I’ve always had a great relationship with my father. He is an exceptional man who has always been there for me. He still is. And though we have good conversations on those occasions where we are not too busy going about our busy lives, some things most often go unsaid.

It’s funny. As a grown man I can say three words 10 times a day to my 3 year old son, but still feel awkward about saying the same three words to my own father. That’s where baseball comes in handy.

Because between a grown father and son, nothing says ‘I love you’ like a hardball tossed back and forth from 60 feet away. At least that’s what I’ve found to be the case.

And as I hung up the glove it occurred to me
He’s type of dad that I want to be
I’m going to be like him, yeah
You know I’m going to be like him

Why This is the Year of the Dad Blogger…

There has been a lot of talk this year about the fact that this is the year of the dad blogger. .I have had a a lot of time to think about this, being a dad myself, for me when starting my Dad of Divas blog, I started this for myself. I did it to share my thoughts and concerns about being a father.

There has been a lot of talk this year about the fact that this is the year of the dad blogger. .I have had a a lot of time to think about this, being a dad myself, for me when starting my Dad of Divas blog, I started this for myself. I did it to share my thoughts and concerns about being a father. When I started blogging three years ago, there were dads out there, but most dads were focused primarily on the topic of fatherhood. There were not many fathers out there that were getting into the other things that bloggers do in regards to reviewing / product giveaways, etc. Moreso it was a bunch of dads that were out there to share their thoughts on fatherhood, supporting each other and celebrating in the positive times and listening in the negative times.


Today, this remains similar. Most of the dads that are out there are still the same guys. They want to give their thoughts on parenting, their thoughts on being a father and what it means to them, talking about their failings and the things that they are doing well. At the same time, they are trying to set themselves apart. I think that it is this last point that sets the dad blogger apart from others. You see mom bloggers have been out there for some time, but dad bloggers have been happy to stay in the background for the most part. It has only been more recently when the media and brands have started to see that in fact, dads do have an opinion and that Dads are making many of the decisions in the home on what to or not to purchase. It is not just moms anymore that are making the decision about what to buy at the store, but that there are many dads out there that are now making these decisions while mom does not.

So Dads are playing a much more integral part in the retail decisions, the family decisions. Now, in my own household, I would say that we have an equal partnership, that we work together to make decisions, in many homes it may not be equal. Still though, the voices of both parents need to be heard.

I also think that having a dad in a child’s life is a very important thing, and I think that media as well as people in general are starting to realize this. There are more and more research studies that have been released that show the importance of fathers int he lives of their children. Also, at the same time you are seeing the importance of dads involvement in the self esteem of a child. Being a parent in general is a large  burden to bear at times, knowing that you hold the future of a child in your hands. Whether you are the parent of a boy or girl, the same research shows that as a father you are letting them see what a man should be like in the world. Thus, they are watching you for answers, whether positive or negative (so beware!).

So as a father you are showing your child about how a man should act toward other women, toward other friends. You are giving them a standard on which to consider other men (now if that is not a huge weight to carry around, I don’t know what is). Thus, as you can see, a father is very important in this regard.

So when the question of what makes this the year of the Dad Blogger comes up, I believe that there are many reasons and it depends on what you are looking at. Are you looking at why this is the year of th Dad blogger in regards to brands and retail purchasing decision and marketing towards Dads as a consumer? Are you asking what the importance of the father in the rearing of a child or the importance of a father figure in a child’s life? Are you asking what the importance of a male role model or a male image for boys and girls growing up. So really it goes down to the underlying question that one is asking when asking this question. There is no easy answer, and many times the answer spurs many more questions, as any good question should.

Overall though, this is the year of the Dad Blogger. The Dad blogger’s voice is becoming stronger and stronger and it is becoming stronger because people like you want to hear what we have to say. I see this as a very good thing and something that will only be the start to something bigger.

Viva La Revolution! Onward live and grow the dad voice, onward grow the Dad Revolution!

My boring life as a dad

Dear Diary,

Today was more of the same old things. I fear that boredom has started to spread its tentacles across my subconscious making it difficult to focus on anything worthy of causing synapses to fire. The mornings are the worst. Dull to the point of seeking ways to physically stimulate my brain using blunt force trauma. I remember the days when each morning brought new challenges and invigorating scenarios. My body, in tune with my mind, used to work out by running and lifting backbreaking weights repeatedly. I would run cross-country and leap fallen logs without breaking my stride or losing my balance. Then I would go to work and multi-task all day. I could carry on multiple conversations at once even while I walked down bustling streets with sirens wailing and buses screeching to a halt. And most of all I could pull all nighters no problem. A pot of coffee and I was good to go. I could even take a power nap and then get right back up and keep working. The only time I would really let my guard down and relax was the weekend. Sleep in late. Watch some TV. Read the paper while having brunch at a corner café. Meet friends and talk about politics and global social issues. Now I really just lie around and stare at the wall. I miss how much I could accomplish in just one day. To prove my point here is a typical lazy Saturday at home these days for us old folks:

Weblog for Saturday September 25, 2010

5:00 – Baby monitor crackles. It’s my son. He’s whining. “Daddy?! Daddy?!… Milk… Pleeeeasssse!”. Roll over and look at my wife. I can tell she is looking at me through her closed eyes. I’m the milkman so she’s not moving. “Daaaaaaaddy!!!!”

5:15 – Burn my hand. Need to make coffee before I bare hand the pot that’s heating the milk.

5:16 – Burn my hand. Again.

5:17 – My son has inhaled his milk. Looks at me like Oliver Twist… “More?!”

5:19 – Burn my hand. Again.

5:30 – Bump into my wife who has silently entered the kitchen and spill boiling coffee on my bare feet. Step on random toy.

5:45 – “What’s that smell?”

5:50 – “Hey buddy let’s change your diaper…” “Nooooooooooooo! I don’t want it!” “You may not, but daddy and mommy are about to pass out so…” “Noooooooo!”

5:55 – Using Navy SEAL hand signals and fiber optic cameras my wife and I corner our son in a remote hard to reach location. Rocks, scissors, paper for who goes in.

6:00 – Ice pack for daddy who threw paper to mommy’s scissor and made the mistake of entering remote location headfirst. Rookie mistake.

6:15 – I remember when Jimmy “Jumbo” Taylor pinned me in 5 seconds during 8th grade PE with a move called “The Cowboy”. Daddy tries to pull it off on the 2 year old to get him onto the changing pad and throws his back.

6:16 – Mommy shakes her head in disgust. Rolls daddy to the side and wrangles son, losing a clump of hair in the struggle.

6:30 – Daddy recovers as diaper is finally secured and high-pitched screaming has subsided to a whimper. Daddy and mommy hear a distinct ringing sound coming from inside their heads.

6:40 – While mommy showers, I am attempting to dress my son. I manage to get his right sock on.

6:45 – Mommy checks in on daddy who has managed to get the left sock on with one hand (I use the other to shield my body from my son’s wind milling arms). I’m fine.

7:15 – My son is fully clothed. I grab a water bottle and head for the shower. I hear my son tearing by the bathroom with my wife in hot pursuit.

7:20 – My son bursts into the bathroom. He is naked and laughing (cackling?).

7:21 – He pees on the floor and laughs (cackles?).

7:40 – We get his clothes back on.

8:00 – Temporarily distracted by an episode of Curious George (and taking copious notes with Crayons) my wife and I are able to get dressed. Very, very quietly.

8:15 – A first attempt is made to coax our son out of the door.

8:16 – “Nooooooooooooo! I don’t want it!”

8:20 – A trail of cars is placed outside my son’s room and ends with his favorite strategically placed on the stroller that is in the hallway.

8:30 – Sensing a trap my son has used his Thomas The Tank Train umbrella to hook the stroller from inside the door and pull it to him. He snags his favorite car and is gone. I step on a car barefoot.

8:50 – Mommy and daddy break open the emergency kit. A trail of muffin crumbs is put in place of the cars. Daddy makes himself really small and crouches behind the stroller. Mommy slides behind the front door.

9:05 – My son is dazed by the sugar rush and makes the fatal greedy mistake of going for the wrapper. Daddy pounces and quickly ties him down. Mommy flings him the diaper bag and shuts the door behind her. Daddy sprints to the elevator. Mom is close behind.

9:20 – I send my wife ahead to peer around the corner and make sure that there are no ice cream trucks ready to ambush us as we head towards the neutral zone (aka Central Park). She signals the all clear.

9:35 – Just as we enter the last crosswalk before the park the familiar Mister Softee jingle invades the relative silence as an ice cream truck emerges from the side street to our left. I see the driver’s beady eyes looking straight at us as his mouth breaks into an evil grin. I pick up the pace as my wife starts standard evasive maneuvers such as “Look an airplane!” or “Look a dinosaur!”.

9:36 – My son smells the ice cream truck. Daddy forgot to move upwind. Another rookie mistake.

9:50 – The sobbing has subsided and a giant pout camps dead center on my son’s face. It says: “You are the meanest people in the universe!”

9:51 – A dog prances by and sniffs my son. “Ooooooh doggie! I want it!” The pout is gone. “I waaaaant it!”

9:52 – The dog leaves. The pout returns.

10:00 – We reach the swings. “Ooooooh swings!” The pout is gone.

10:45 – As my arms start to go numb there is a first attempt at removing my son from the swings which catches the attention of the mounted policemen in the vicinity. They are about to call in a 211. I assure them that we are in fact the little rabble rouser’s parents as my son screams “Noooooo! No! Noooooo!” at the top of his lungs while kicking me repeatedly in my (rather soft) belly and my groin. The cops look doubtful and remain in the area until we finally get our son away from the swings.

11:15 – My son plays and laughs with his cars on the grass. And old lady walks by and comments on how cute and well behaved my son is.

11:16 – I offer my son to the old lady much to my wife’s dismay. She points out that offering some money would probably help convince the lady. The lady surprisingly turns down the offer.

11:20 – The mounted police officers pass within a few feet and smile and wave to our son. They then glare at us and carry on.

12:00 – Our son falls asleep exhausted.

12:01 – My wife and I weep. These are tears of joy. We have gotten through half the day without major incidents and with most of our sanity intact.

As you can see a parent’s life is rather boring. Life is so much easier now that I have a kid and I worry that if we have a second kid it might become unbearably slow. I worry that my wife and I will find ourselves sitting around with little else to do but watch the younger generation getting so much accomplished in their daily lives full of ideas on how to conquer the world and get things done. I wonder what tomorrow will bring? Probably more of the same old things. Ho hum.

Time to Revolutionize… Supersizing Fatherhood

Ok Dads, in thinking about the idea beyond Dad Revolution, we are trying to help you think about fatherhood in a different way. As many of you who have followed us in the past have found, all of us from Dad Revolution are passionate about our families and our children and we are doing what we can to share our experiences, thoughts and ideas on how you can be a Revolutionary Dad.

I was on my way to work today and I saw a billboard that I see every day, one of a HUGE Big Mac from McDonalds and it made me start to think about fatherhood. Now don’t get the wrong idea, I was not hungry and I do not spend much time even frequenting McDonalds, but instead, I was thinking about the concept of supersizing oneself.

Now how the heck do you supersize yourself? Well, when I talk about supersizing yourself, I am referring to the idea that as a father you need to be larger than life. You need to go above and beyond to be there for your children and also your wife. You cannot simply sit back and be the equivalent of a kiddy meal. Instead you need to be the X-Large Dad that your family can be proud of.

By now you may be saying, this Dad of Divas guy has fallen off his rocker (or he is really hungry). But I would retort that no, I truly believe that all of us have it within ourselves to be extraordinary in our own ways. I can think back t a father that I know that was working with his daughter on her pinewood derby car. He knew that he would not be able to be at the actual race because of work, so he did tremendous research to find out how to make the perfect car for his daughter. So hand-in-hand they worked together and low and behold, she ended up winning the pinewood derby race.

So all-in-all, I am writing today to challenge all of you to step forth on a path to supersize yourself (now don’t start over-eating…that’s not that I want). Do something extraordinary to make you stand out to your family and your kids and come back here and talk about it. Become a part of the Revolution and let us know how you are doing it!

It is time for the revolution to start! It is time for you and I to take a stand to make fatherhood mean more and to stand out. Be a hero to your family and kids and join us in being Revolutionary! We look forward to having you stand with us.

Ill-vaders From The Other Room

The start of the school year means new friends, new teachers, new things to learn and, all too often, new germs to bring home.  Unfortunately, JSL seems to have found a shiny new germ to bring home.  Specifically, he has a cold.  No fever (thank goodness, given his history of febrile seizures), but his nose has been stuffed up and he’s now begun coughing.

I don’t think I need to tell you that colds are no fun.  First, we need to convince him to take his nose drops.  And by convince, I mean pin down while he squirms and screams.  It breaks my heart to do this, but I know that the medicine helps him.  That said, you don’t know how strong a three year old can be until you try to pin him down to give him medicine.  Seriously.  Is he secretly benchpressing 200 pound weights or something?

To help him with his breathing, we’ve begun giving him his nebulizer treatments.  That’s the puppy mask on him in the photo.  The nebulizer open up his airways to help ease his asthmatic breathing.  He likes these more than the nose drops.  He doesn’t even fight us (much) when we put on the mask.  After it goes on, though, he asks “is it done yet” every second.  No, I’m not exaggerating.  He literally was asking the question once per second until he was done.  No, JSL, I said you weren’t done 10 seconds ago and I doubt things have changed since then.  At the very least, wait a whole minute before asking again.

A sick JSL also means that he had been pulled into our bed.  This is to keep an eye on him until he gets better. There is no downside for him.  He loves being in mommy and daddy’s bed. For us, however, having another person in the bed can be a pain.  Literally.  He will turn sideways and wind up kicking us all night long.  Plus, he will slowly move towards me as the night progresses until I only have a sliver of bed left.  He wakes up as refreshed as one can be with a cold.  We, however, wake up tired from the combination of worry over every sound he makes, having reduced space to sleep in and being kicked and poked all night long.

On the bright side, perhaps tonight will be the night that he finally sleeps in his own bed again.  Oh, did I mention that JSL likes sharing.  Especially with his big brother.  And that said big brother is sneezing now?  Here we go again!

Update: I wrote this last night and JSL wound up sleeping through the night in his own bed. Huzzah! On a hopefully unrelated note, why is my throat feeling scratchy?

Dad Memories

I visited the town I grew up on this past weekend. It’s a small town in NEPA that North East PA. It’s funny how small and old things seem compared to when I was a child. I drove by my old house and I drove by my dad’s old office. It turns out my dad lives three blocks from where he practiced medicine for fifteen years before he sold his practice. He moved back to the area after fifteen years in the south. I wasn’t there to visit my father although I would have liked to have visited him. I was there for a friend’s wedding. The fact that I wasn’t there for my dad didn’t stop me from trying to visit with him unfortunately he decided not to answer the phone and I didn’t get to see him. I was compelled to drive by his house but I didn’t stop. I guess I figured if he didn’t answer the phone then he probably didn’t want to see me.

 You see for the last year my father and I haven’t really been speaking and it sucks. Tonight I guess I just want to recall some of the good memories. Rather than recount the reasons we are not speaking.

 I think my favorite memories of him are from the beach. He always had some work that had to be done but he was with us the whole time and he didn’t have to leave for two weeks straight every summer. He wasn’t all consumed with the work it was just patient charts he had to keep up with. The beach was always fun as we did things
like help make our home movies. These were the old real to real 8mm movies. I got to help with the splicer and it was a blast. At the end of the vacation we would always have a movie night where we watched the movie we made of the previous year. We had pop corn and the whole family enjoyed it. Sometimes we did science experiments. We would gather beach specimens and then examine them under our microscope. We always went to the board walk where my dad had to order Gyro from one specific restaurant b/c according to him they were the best. We also spent a ton of time in the water together. The beach was definitely one of the better experiences with my dad.

 Another experience with my dad that I truly enjoyed was playing paint ball. We started playing in the early days before there were automatic weapons and it was an exceptional way to teach a child how to handle a gun. He taught all of us (me and my sisters) how and where to point it, how to aim and generally what to do with a gun. We (my dad and I) also had a great time running around the woods with the other guys who played. It was always fun and one of the few times in life where it really didn’t matter who won each game.

 The last memory I’ll recall for this post is when we would go out on the lake and row. He had a two man ocean skull. We never put both rigs in together. Only one of us would row at a time. I think my father was afraid I might catch an oar if we rowed together but the time we spent out on the water was wonderful and we had many great conversations. It was here that he taught me to stand up for myself, the value of exercise, and what it means to be a caring father. Funny how things can change over time.

 I miss my dad and sure wish I could have seen him.


Fears/Issues of Fatherhood

Have you ever really thought about what you are afraid of in being a father, or what issues really trouble you in fatherhood? For me, when thinking trying to think of eight main fears/issues that are difficult for me to cope with, I came up with the following:

Have you ever really thought about what you are afraid of in being a father, or what issues really trouble you in fatherhood? For me, when thinking trying to think of eight main fears/issues that are difficult for me to cope with, I came up with the following:

1) Bringing home the bacon – I am the sole income maker for my family. What would happen if for some reason I would lose my job, or become unable to work for some reason. I know that J-Mom could go back to work, but still it is something that weighs on my mind.

2) The safety and security of my family – I am constantly trying to think of the safety of my girls (including J-Mom). I know that I cannot always keep them safe from harm and cannot shelter my girls from the world, but there definitely are times when it seems like it would be so much easier to shelter them.

3) Being a good parent – I don’t think anyone is completely ready to be a parent until they become one, and then when they become one they constantly question whether what they are doing is right for the situation and for their children.

4) Caring for / Losing Other Loved Ones – This week one of our neighbors passed away and he was only 57 years old. This really brought home to me the fragility of life and how close to death we all are. I am not trying to be morbid, far from it, but this situation really made me think about the fact that I am an only child and that there will be a time in the future when I will have to deal with this myself in a much more personal way than I have had to in the past. I have been lucky to not have been touched by death too much in my life, at least not yet, and I hope to be strong enough when I do have to deal with this in the future.

5) Being able to learn and do Manly Tasks – I am not the most handy person. When I think of being a Dad and father and a man I guess to me it sometimes comes withthe package deal that one should be able to do some of these things. This is not to say that I can’t do these things, they just are more difficult for me than for some others. Come back though for my next Many Monday and you will see a project that my father-in-law and I made (well…a lot of it was him – but I did help!).

6) Maintaining friendships/hobbies etc. – I don’t know if this is unique to being a Dad, but I find it increasingly difficult to have times with friends or time to spend on hobbies or other fun activities. Much of this is due to work and then being Dad when I get home and then simply being tierd beyond belief from the combination of lack of sleep, work and play. But I wonder whether other Dads are dealing with this and if so how they are balancing this.

7) Balancing the many roles which is fatherhood – Speaking of balance, I find as a father, balance goes out the window. There are so many days when I say, I should work out, or do this, or that, but then life intervenes. I go to work and try to get all that I need to get done completed, and leave work the same day finding that I still need to complete many of the things that I hoped to complete the next day. Needless to say Balance is a hard thing to come by. Have any of you come up with some surefire ways to balance life/work and other such things?

8) The future for my daughters – The world right now seems to be crazy, the price of everything is going up, there are many issues that prevail on the world scene that are sure to eventually effect the US. I am constantly thinking of the future of my daughters and what it will be like for them. What will they be, will they be successful, what must I do to help them with this? Lots of questions, but the answers are still many years off.

What are your top fears/issues? And yes, Moms you can chime in as well!

Daddy Are You Listening to me?

On Friday night we were hanging out with some good friends that just got back from visiting family in Canada. They were there for two weeks. The plane ride home is about two hours and it turned out that one of the tv’s in the back of the seat was broken. The mom being the nice and good mom that she is switch seats with her oldest daughter who is seven so that her daughter would be able to watch tv. The mom (M for short) didn’t have any books, the headset jack was broken, and she had nothing to do. This was going to be pure pleasure for M after having spent two weeks with family, she was finally going to get some much need quiet alone time.

M’s seven-year old daughter is a sweetheart, and one of my daughter’s best friends. I’ll call her mini M for short. Mini M observed that her mom wasn’t watching tv and was just sitting there. She asked why, pointed out that others were watching tv and then when she realized that her mom couldn’t watch tv decided she wouldn’t either so she could keep her mom company.

M was relating this story to us, telling us how much she just needed the quiet time to her self and while it was sweet that mini M wanted to keep M company she really didn’t want it. I of course gave her a hard time about how she could want to ignore her daughter after doing such a sweet thing. Then she and her husband (well call him D) started talking about how mini M will start talking about some topic and go on and on and take for ever to get to the point, something our seven-year old does too. And they were saying how they try so hard to stay with her but end up doing other things and absently say “yah,… ok, ….mmmhhmmm..” and as I was giving them a hard time about it I realized that I, and my wife do that too. So I say to Mel “You know what we do that too often too.” “Do what?” “Blow of Haley while she’s talking.”

We all started cracking up because I absolutely identified with no uncertain terms what we were doing to our children even though it was unintentional. If you have younger kids you may not yet understand, but you will. It’s not something you do intentionally, but in the hurricane we call life it happens. Your trying to get everything done in your day. You need to move from place to place and hustle your children to the next event. As a result they can be talking to you about something that “you have deemed nothing” and you might not be listening to them because of some other priority. It’s easy to get distracted and it’s easy to not realize that you’re doing that. So don’t forget, don’t forget to sit down and give your undivided attention once in a while. You can’t do it all the time but make sure you carve out once a day to truly connect with your kids. Let them know how important it is that they know they can tell you anything and celebrate with them when they are proud of themselves, and help them when they need it. Also recognize when they tell you, you aren’t listening, that they’re probably right. So take a second to step back and understand what they are trying to tell you, even if it does take them 45 minutes to communicate something that can be communicated in 2 minutes. Remember they’re developing the language and communication skills they will use as an adult.

A Father as a Beacon to his children

I like lighthouses! The pictures that you will see through this article are a few that I have taken through the years. Recently I have been thinking of lighthouses in relation to fatherhood. Lighthouses have played and still play an important part in nautical safety as many are still in working order doing the job that they were made to do – safeguard vessels from a watery grave. (If you are interested in learning more than you ever wanted about lighthouses go over to Wikipedia and read about the interesting history and technology that makes lighthouses tick!) No I am not trying to be morbid, far from it. Yet, what I am getting it is the fact that Lighthouses have played the role that many of us Dad’s have as well, providing a strong outside exterior to safeguard the waters for ship going vessels. How does this relate – I see fathers as holding a similar exterior, sheltering our kids from the rocks (the dangers in life) and a beacon or a stable beam for our kids to reach out to. Now, this is not to say that our kids will always want to reach out to us, but as fathers we do our best to keep them safe from harm. This doesn’t mean that we will be able to keep them from any harm – as we all have had the experience where bumps, bruises, broken arms, etc. definitely are a part of life and will ultimately occur as kids are being kids. Though saying this we (as the lighthouses before) remain solid and strong. We send out our warnings and reach out when needed. Maybe I am being a bit metaphorical, but I think that it is definitely a metaphor that I can relate to as a father. How about you? What do you think of this? What other types of visual images of fatherhood mean something to you or stand out to you? What about you moms out there? I would surmise that the lighthouse could also be used to portray many moms out there as well. Are there other images that also reflect you as a mother?

Sparking a Superhero Fantasy in Our Children

I admit it, I like comic books. When I was a kid I was obsessed with comic books. Give me a great old Spiderman or X-Men comic and I would be ecstatic. I have even kept the comic books that I collected when I was a child. Do I know what I will do with them in the future, no, not really, but I am pleased that they were not thrown out or given away as I have heard that some parents did once their child left the house for college (thanks mom and dad!).

I admit it, I like comic books. When I was a kid I was obsessed with comic books. Give me a great old Spiderman or X-Men comic and I would be ecstatic. I have even kept the comic books that I collected when I was a child. Do I know what I will do with them in the future, no, not really, but I am pleased that they were not thrown out or given away as I have heard that some parents did once their child left the house for college (thanks mom and dad!).

What I liked most about comics was that they transported you to another world away from your own and you could imagine and dream about the possibilities that lay in front of you. You could see yourself as a teenager (when you already think of yourself as a mutant) gaining superhuman powers and working to save the world from evil men and women who were out to take over the world.

Was anything that I read reality, no not really, but there were many underlying concepts regarding teamwork, friendship and loyalty that surrounded many of the comics that I read on weekly/monthly. These concepts are ones that even today remain as important to society and to personal growth and development.

So while I don’t know what I will do with my comics in the future, I do know that I would like to start sharing the comics with my daughters as they get older and are able to read on their own so that they too can come to appreciate the value and beauty in the comics that I saw in them as a child. I also hope that they can use their own imagination to see themselves as superheroes in one way or another. Now I am not saying that they should go and try to fly by jumping off a building or anything to that effect, but instead seeing what being a hero means and living up to this on a daily basis.

So for all of you, what type of superhero would you choose to be if you could?

It’s the love that I want to share not just the game

Basketball was always a point of connection with my dad, but it is that supportive attitude that he had for my brother and I that I want to carry on with my boys, whether they love the game or not.

My brother and I pushing while my dad walks away

Basketball will always be how my brother and I remember our relationship with our dad. He is going strong at 60, still an iron worker, and doing a job more demanding then any I have had. But when I think about that relationship it is the basketball metaphors that come to mind. “How did he get open to make that shot?” This is the question I would get watching a basketball game with my dad. He didn’t just watch the guy with the ball, he watched the whole game and taught me how to watch the whole game too. When we played he encouraged us and let us play, but when the game was over he would always coach us and help us get better. He loves the game of basketball and because we love him, we love the game of basketball too. I wonder if my boys will feel the same way.

Game three of the NBA finals is tonight and the series is tied one to one going to Boston. I have been a Lakers fan from the time we moved from the Northwest to Southern California when I was 12. I think it was childhood rebellion that led me to the Lakers, I would never not watch basketball with my dad, but I would choose to root for the team he despised most. Watching the first two games of these finals with boys in the room with me they could care less about the game. Far from enjoying the ball movement and help defense that both teams play they are most concerned with doing anything they can to get me to turn the game off. As I try in vain to suppress a swear from the latest bad call or porr execution, I think about those great memories of breaking down games with my dad and when and if my four year old will be ready for that.

I have decided already that what ever they love I will learn to love as well whether that is basketball and easy, or botany and a learning curve. Enjoying basketball with my dad wasn’t so much the game as it was his supportiveness of my brother and I in what we loved. I know that if we wanted to sign up for dance classes he would have been just as supportive and that is what I want to model to my kids as well. That being for us over everything is the biggest lesson I take from my dad and pass on to my boys.

They may love the game and just choose the Celtics as their team, which would honestly hurt more then them not liking the game at all, or they may pass on the sport and choose something different. Either way I’m all in. Just like my dad was.

Portland Dad writes over at Stay At Home Dad PDX about raising two boys as a stay at home dad. You can also find him on twitter as Portlanddad.

Life Lessons Learned From Sharing Childhood Favorites

NHL meets Bugs and Lola Bunny

Of all of the ways to connect with your children, one of the most rewarding has got to be introducing your children to things that you were interested in as a child.  Not only do you wind up reliving some of your favorite moments from your childhood, but you build on them. You wind up not only seeing them with adult eyes, but seeing through your kids’ new slightly different perspective.

Now, I’m under no illusions.  I’m a geek.  So the things that I like, the things I want to inspire my children to have interests in are geeky pursuits like comic books, cartoons, computers, and science fiction.  As NHL got older, he started showing an interest in geeky things.  Not only did he join the chess club, but he started working math into every conversation and drawing that he could.  I saw my opportunity.

First, I began introducing him to the wonderful world of superheroes.  I showed him the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon and he enjoyed watching the exploits of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Despite his spider-strength, he would often find himself outmatched physically or in situations where brute force wouldn’t help. I soon began to see another benefit to sharing my geeky interests: imparting life lessons. I made sure to point out to NHL that Spider-Man knew that not every problem could be solved with physical force. Instead, Spider-Man would succeed when he thought through the situation and used his brain to come up with a solution.

A similar lesson came into play when NHL and I began watching Looney Tunes. I pointed out to NHL how the protagonist of the story is usually overpowered. Bugs can’t exactly take on Elmer’s gun head-on and Tweety can’t beat up that bad ol’ putty tat. However, Bugs can outsmart Elmer (quite easily, in fact) and Tweety keeps one step ahead of the putty tat thanks to out thinking him. Again, I used my childhood favorites to show NHL that, when he encountered a problem, the proper thing to do was use his brain to find a way out.

Of course, not everything I introduce NHL to will have a moral to teach. Still, I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for life lessons hidden away in my childhood favorites. What childhood favorites do you intend to introduce your kids to? Which have you already introduced them to? What life lessons could you work into those introductions?

Flowers, Notes and Gifts… Is This Even Still Possible after Kids

We all get busy in our lives once we get married and when we add kids to the mix, our lives and our creativity sometimes takes a back burner. As parents we put all (or at least most) of our energy into our kids’ lives and sometimes our partner in the family dynamic gets left behind.

We all get busy in our lives once we get married and when we add kids to the mix, our lives and our creativity sometimes takes a back burner. As parents we put all (or at least most) of our energy into our kids’ lives and sometimes our partner in the family dynamic gets left behind.

Have any of you felt this way?

I know that for me this definitely has occurred on and off within my wife and my 12 years of marriage. I know that I was much more romantic early in our relationship and definitely prior to getting marriage.

So why does this happen?

I think from conversations that I have had with other dads, this occurs because we become comfortable and busy. Comfortable with the way that our lives are going and busy with the hustle and bustle or family lives (can we say sports, school and swing sets?).

So how do we get out this rut?

All of us want romance in our lives, yet what our definitions of romance differ between each individual. I can say that I definitely like to feel wanted and appreciated and I know that my partner does as well. To provide this for her I try little things such as:

  • Surprising her with small notes around the house
  • Doing chores I normally would not do
  • Giving her time to do things that she normally would not get to do
  • Giving small gifts periodically (as we can afford them)
  • Taking the kids away to give her some quiet time (as she is a stay-at-home mom)

All of these small things keep our relationship strong, and I hope, also providing a strong example for our daughters of what they should aspire to in their own relationships within the future.

How do you keep your romance alive?

Tips for summer outings with a baby or toddler

The first official day of summer is June 21st which is exactly a month from today. The beautiful, warm weather means you and your little ones can start spending more time outdoors. Young kids love being outside, whether it be in the back yard, downtown doing errands, the park or pretty much any place where they don’t have to sit still and be quiet. However, leaving the house with a baby or toddler is no small event. Here are some tips to consider before heading out and while on your outing this summer. These tips are geared more towards a short trip to the park, doing errands, etc. as opposed to a longer road trip or vacation away from home.

Attire and protection

Dress your baby or toddler lightly–shorts, tank tops, a cool dress, sandals, flip flops and don’t for get a hat to help keep the sun out of their eyes. If they are cool, dry and comfortable, it will make the outing so much easier on you.

If you will be in direct sun for any length of time apply some sun block/screen on your baby/toddler. There are products made just for their young, sensitive skin. You will want to try the product on a small patch of their skin first as some children may be allergic to the ingredients.

My personal dad tip: You also don’t want to jump into a blazing hot vehicle with your baby so a few minutes before you actually get into the vehicle, start it up and turn on the air conditioner. If the weather is cool enough you can simply open up the vehicle and lower the windows to vent all the hot air. Also, try to park in the shade.

Your gear

Consider how long you will really be away from the house and pack accordingly. The key here is to pack lightly and keep organized. Here is my usual arsenal of baby gear.

  • One or two diapers, that’s all.
  • A small packet of baby wipes, not the huge wholesale family pack.
  • A pocket size packet of tissues or a soft spit-up cloth. (To clean drool, boogers, etc.)
  • One or two servings of baby formula in an easy to despense container. You don’t want to carry the whole can of formula because it’s just too messy to scoop out when on the go.
  • One or two baby bottles with water already in them. When your baby needs a bottle simply dump one of the pre-portioned servings into the bottle. (Don’t carry a bottle already mixed as the summer heat may make it turn bad before your child consumes it.)
  • A single, maybe two, change of clothes.
  • A small toy or two.
  • A snack for your little one.
  • My gear: wallet, phone, iPod, keys, sunglasses.

Keep things organized in your diaper bag and pack things horizontally, next to each other as opposed to on top of each other so you’re not digging through it to find what you need. Also, try to pack it yourself so you know exactly where everything is.

My personal dad tip: I hate lugging around a diaper bag so when I can get away with it, my weapon of choice is a good, comfortable pair of cargo shorts. I simply pack the bare essentials in the cargo pockets and head out the door.

During your outing

Keep an eye on your child. This may seem obvious but during the summer, public places become much more crowded so don’t let your child wonder off too far and don’t take your eyes off of them.

Keep a cool drink handy for your child. They may not sit still long enough to drink the whole thing but offer it to them often so they can sip it and keep themselves properly hydrated while you’re both out.

In the hot weather they will probably drink a lot of liquids so make time for frequent bathroom breaks. If your child is still in diapers, be sure to check them often to see if they are in need of a change. The last thing you want is your baby to end up with diaper rash.

My personal dad tip: Kids may not be willing to stop and take a drink but I’ve found that they love ice. So try a snow cone or crushed ice if they are refusing liquids.

My personal dad tip: If it’s especially hot and humid I sometimes would forgo a thick diaper and put a cool, breathable underwear on my boy. Make sure you are prepared to clean up a messy accident if you do this.

Do you have any “daddy tricks-of-the-trade” for surviving while away from the house?