Parents Rejoice: Back to School is Here!

t’s time to head back to school, and I’m teaming up with Boogie Wipes to offer an awesome Back-to-School Giveaway for kids and moms!
Back-to-School giveaway from Boogie Wipes. Three winners will win a backpack and mommy clutch - full of school supplies, gift cards and Boogie Wipes. Ends August 22. Enter now!
Three lucky winners will receive a backpack stocked with school supplies (and Boogie Wipes) and a Mommy Clutch – full of everything moms needs (including gift cards!)

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From following Boogie Wipes on social media to instagramming a picture of your favorite Boogie Wipes products, there are dozens of ways to enter – and a few ways to enter every single day.
Back-to-School giveaway from Boogie Wipes. Three winners will win a backpack and mommy clutch - full of school supplies, gift cards and Boogie Wipes. Ends August 22. Enter now!
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Looking for Great Back-to-School Ideas?

Visit the Boogie Wipes blog for six back-to-school ideas for parents, plus a coupon to save on your favorite Boogie Wipes products.
Great back to school ideas for parents. Must read!
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Giveaway is live Tuesday, August 5, 2014 until midnight on August 22, 2014. US and Canada residents only (excluding Quebec). Three winners will be randomly chosen and notified via email. PapaDoesPreach.com received no compensation for sponsoring this event, and is not responsible for the delivery of the prize. Prize delivery is the sole responsibility of Boogie Wipes.

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5 Reasons My Son is Like My Xbox

I am one of those quasi-adult parents – you know what I mean – the kind that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, and now in our 30’s we are doing everything possible to hang onto some semblance of our childhood experiences at all costs. So, how do I do that? Well, at pushing almost 40, I’m still a gamer. For you non-gamer parents out there, that means I play video games…a lot.
I don’t just play video games; I invest quite a bit of time in my gaming hobby. I still visit GameStop and Best Buy to purchase new games, I still read reviews on the latest products coming out, and I still geek out with my friends and debate which console is better (Xbox or PlayStation).
My video game playing habit took a major hit in 2012 when our son was born. “Nothing’s going to change for me,” I foolishly told my friends, “I’ll just put the kid in my lap and play while he sleeps. Late night feedings will be cool; I’ll get in a lot of gaming time.” Yeah, think again.
Two and a half years later I continue the struggle to balance my nerdy gamer ways while in real life being a parent – that’s some pretty adult shit right there. In late 2013 I purchased a new video game console, and as we approach its half-birthday, I am noticing some eerie similarities to my toddler.
Only Responds to Yelling – One of the major attractions Microsoft tried to sell hard to the consumers was how their new console would be completely voice activated. Want to turn the Xbox on? Just say, “Xbox On” and it will recognize your voice and turn on. Want to do something other than game? Simply say the phrase, “Xbox go to…..” and fill in the blank and you will be binge watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix, Skyping with grandma, or even watching TV. Problem is, just like our toddler, the damn system doesn’t do what we ask of it, the first, second, sometimes even the third time around. Many times I will be in the kitchen and hear my Wife yell, “XBOX ON, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!” Luckily, while just as difficult, our son receives a little bit more grace…..and I mean a little.
It’s always fucking watching me – While the last function was supposed to be cool, the next option is just downright creepy. Xbox has a built-in camera system that according to Microsoft, is always on, and is always watching; even when the system is off. So while it’s really annoying that my son follows me from room to room (even to the bathroom where he stares at me while I handle my business), at least when he’s asleep, I know there is no risk of him popping up and filming me while I walk around in my underwear and somehow posting that shit on the Internet. Trust me; no one wants to see that.
May Malfunction at Any Moment – Like any new generation of equipment or technology, there are usually some kinks or bugs to work out of the system. We consumers are usually more forgiving when it comes to techie items,like when my new Xbox crashes for no reason; it’s because we know a system update is right around the corner. But, where the hell is my system update for my toddler that is happy one second and then a ball of fury and flailing limbs screaming, “NO, I DON’T WANT IT!” the next?? You show me that product, Microsoft, and I will be yours for life.
The so-called experts are of little to no help – I’ve come to learn that when those times your techie gadgets inevitably fail you, much like your toddler will inevitably have a complete fucking meltdown in public, the people we are supposed to be able to reach out to, to help us fix our problem, are just as fucking clueless as we are. Sure, your big-box store nerd-smug-asshole behind the counter will eventually fix your hard drive. Just like whatever family member’s, doctor’s, or supposed child-raising guru’s advice might work when trying to calm your kid down, but at the end of the day they can’t ever tell you why the breakdown happened, or how to prevent it from ever happening again. It’s all a bunch of finger-crossing and hoping. So in my book, that makes you all full of shit.
Both are a serious drain on my bank account – Having a kid was a mutual choice between me and the Wife, but buying the Xbox One (aka the $500 paperweight in our family room) was all me. Both have the exact same effect on our bank account, however; they continue to take and take and take. Both require a continuous credit line for maintenance and upkeep. Examples include buying games or new products for the Xbox One, and clothing, feeding and paying for daycare for my son. I invest so much money into both, wondering what I’m really getting in return, which brings me to my last point…..
How my son is NOT like my Xbox – While I joke that my Xbox is a useless paperweight (and will continue to be seen as such given current release dates for new games and products), that depreciates in value daily; the same cannot be said for my son. I see my son grow and change every day. While the Xbox can easily go unused for days at a time, my Wife and I enjoy watching our son as he is becoming a little person; sometimes too quickly for his Dad’s comfort. I will most likely outgrow my video game addiction someday, but I will never outgrow being a Dad.

Happily raising the next generation of gamers
Happily raising the next generation of gamers

Searching For Dad

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As much as I try and deny it when my Wife laments about it, our son clearly has a preferable parent…Daddy. In a perfect toddler world, his preference would be to have us both within arm’s reach at all times, but that’s not always possible. If the Wife needs to leave the house, the boy will typically fuss a bit, he even might shed a tear or two, but if Daddy has to go? Like every morning when I leave for work? Well, if you ever heard the term Bat-Shit-Crazy, that comes from my son, JSYK. Screaming, heaving his body onto the floor, hitting, kicking, and more screaming. And more screaming.
And it doesn’t stop there. My son follows me from room to room when we’re home, saying things like, “Ko Daddy” (aka Come on Daddy) and “What’d you doing Daddy?” I think the Wife actually gave birth to my second shadow. If I somehow manage to leave the room by myself, he tends to get very whiny, and sometimes very nervous and scared; only be relieved and all smiles when he sees me and runs up and grabs me.
Sometimes I get frustrated by the whining, and at times wonder out loud to the Wife, “Why is he so upset? I’m right here.” My Wife always tells me how much he loves me (which I know), and how I’m his hero. She also tells me to put myself in his shoes; he feels lost without Daddy. It makes me really reflect back on my relationship with my father, or more appropriately, the lack thereof, and one very pivotal time in my childhood where I felt very alone.
Over the years people have inquired about my dad from time to time, as I have spent the majority of my time talking/writing about my mother and the abusive relationship we had.. I never really wanted to talk about my dad. I realize now, that’s because the emotions were far more painful because they were born from a lack of his desire to know me, or even see me.
After a nasty divorce when I was just a toddler, my dad who was in the Navy, went off and lived the Navy life as a single guy. This meant I rarely ever heard from him; never saw him; and many birthdays/holidays passed with little or no contact. He eventually remarried and had more children. I met him, and spent a small amount of time with him in my pre-teen years, but for the most part our relationship was non-existent at best.
In early June of 1992, the week of my 8th grade graduation, my father was in San Diego (where I lived) for some sort of naval training exercise. He reached out to my mom to let me know he was in town, but only for a few days; so meeting up wasn’t a lock to happen. In fact, as the words left his mouth, I could sense the instant hesitation and regret because he might actually have to meet up with me.
I wasn’t super book-smart growing up, but I knew how to read people really well at a young age, so I picked up on his hesitation immediately. Pushing that aside, I decided to go for broke and invited him to my graduation that week, stressing that I really would like him to come. More hesitation, but he eventually agreed and even mustered up a half-hearted response of excitement and sense of gratefulness for my invitation. I knew he was lying, but for all my growing up way too fast and being able to sniff out a bullshitter like whoa, I still was a boy without a father. A boy who had always silently yearned for male connection; something I had none of to that point in my life.
My mom tried to be supportive; her attempts however, could not hide her massive skepticism. If she were a betting person, she knew she would win all kinds of cash betting on my father being a no-show to my graduation. But I didn’t care; I knew he was coming.
The big day came. I still remember it like yesterday. It feels today, like it did then; like a scene out of a movie. My dad hadn’t shown by the time the pre-ceremony chit chat and socializing were over. So what? So I didn’t get to take a picture with him before the ceremony; there would be plenty of time afterwards to take pictures and go to dinner. The important thing is that he’ll see me walk and get my graduation certificate.
We all took our seats as the graduation ceremony began. Nervously shifting in my seat, I turned from side to side, looking back and forth hoping to catch a glimpse of him as he arrived. Scanning every face in the crowd, eyes squinted by the bright California sun, I saw parents’ faces full of pride and affection, but none of them belonged to me. Occasionally I would catch my mom’s face; a smile plastered on her face as if she has just swallowed cough medicine. She was trying to convey pride and joy, but just under the mask of faux-happiness was a tornado of sadness, worry, and angst, along with a dash of “I told you so,” as she watched me desperately search the crowd. But I didn’t care; I knew my dad was coming. I would not acknowledge her worry; I would not give her the satisfaction. This time she would be wrong.
The ceremony came and went like a flash; I stood and walked and returned to my seat. It went by so fast I could barely scan the crowd for my dad for what felt like the 500th time, but I knew he was out there and he saw me, so no sweat; that’s what was important.
As soon as all the pomp and circumstance concluded, we were released out into the world; but first back to our parents. My mom found me so quickly it was almost as if she materialized out of thin air. She was beaming with pride, tears in her eyes telling me how proud she was of me, and how much I have grown up, hugging me tightly; too tightly. That’s when I knew; my father never arrived. Even though I knew the truth the lonely, sad, boy inside would not be shoved aside this time. I blurted out, “Where’s dad? Did he see me?” My mother stared at me blankly for a moment, and just as I looked away I spotted the slightest of smiles form on her face. Not only was she not sad; she was happy this had happened. Victory was hers.
So yeah, my son hovers around me, and follows me from room to room. And yes, my son has to be involved in everything I’m doing, but you know what else he does; he bursts into the room on my mornings to sleep in and wakes me up by jumping on the bed, smotheringme with hugs. So my son whines when he can’t see me, or cries like a crazy person when I leave for work, that just means there is a super happy running hug with the scream of, “DADDY” when I get home.
I don’t begrudge him for getting upset anymore; well I try not to at least. And when he calls out, “Daddy, where are you?” I make sure to hug him a little tighter these days when I say, “I’m here buddy”…because I’ll always be here.
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A version of this story has been published in the book Dads Behaving Dadly 2 (clink the link to purchase this book).
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The Silent Killer


Ever since I started blogging about 6 years ago, I swore I would be brutally honest and forthcoming about any and all topics I wrote about.  I’m pretty proud to say that I have lived up to that promise pretty well.
Blogging has become my therapy over the years.  The dad blogging is for fun,  but talking about deeper issues; truly I tell you helps me make it through the day.  I know that sounds very melodramatic, but it’s true.  I see so much nonsense in this world, as I am sure most of you do as well, that it drives me absolutely bonkers sometimes.  I gotta vent or I’m going to go crazy man, for reals.
There are some obvious areas I have chosen to abstain from “true honesty.”  By that I mean I never refer to the Wife by her actual name, nor do I reveal my son’s name.  But, unfortunately, like many others, I have some very sick family members that would love nothing more than to track me down, just to cause me harm.  And when I say sick, I mean crazy-sick, not like curable illness-sick.  So you can see why I choose a certain level of anonymity in my writing.  Although this reality bums me out, I try and peel back the layers and let you all in as much as possible.
This blog helps me a lot; more than you may ever know, because there are still so many things I struggle with on a daily basis, but if you knew me, or were around me, trust me you would never know because I have become so good at hiding my pain and struggle that it’s almost as easy as breathing now, yet not as healthy.  But, some emotions have come bubbling up recently that I feel it only right that instead of hiding, like I am used to, I should stand strong, peel back another layer and show you a little more of me.  So….here we go.
Wednesday May 2, 2012 will be a day I will probably always remember for a long time, if not forever.  This is the day one of my childhood heroes died.  And not only did he die, but he passed in such a fashion that is so close and personal to me that it rocked me to my very core.  This past Wednesday, former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  Yes, he committed suicide in his own home; he was only 43 years old, and this was not his first attempt.

In 2010, Seau drove his car off the road and slammed it into a tree.  While he survived and claimed he fell asleep at the wheel, rumblings began to stir that this was no accident and there may be something deeper going on.  Sadly, we now know what that “something” was, in fact going on.  Seau, always known to be one of the most energetic and positive personalities in the NFL, suffered from massive depression, which eventually led to him taking his own life.  In the weeks, months, even years to come, much will be made over the fact that he chose to shoot himself in the chest; presumably to preserve his brain to be studied for the effects of concussions received while playing.  Even more sad, Seau is not the first former NFL’er to do such a thing; former NFL player Dave Duerson committed suicide in similar fashion, and left a note explaining he wanted his brain to be studied.
So why am I taking this so personally?  Well, one, Seau was a personal idol of mine….but two, and most importantly, I know what it feels like to suffer from depression, and sadly, I even know what it feels like when you come to that conclusion that it’s time to check out….sorry to make that sound so casual.
I have gone through most of my life struggling with depression, and I still do to this day.  Much like when they tell you that you will never “not” be an alcoholic, but instead you will learn to manage and live with the disease; I feel the same goes for depression.  I don’t believe it ever truly goes away, you simply learn to manage it, and hopefully suppress it in a fashion that makes life easier to manage.
I don’t really know how to segue to this next part of this story without it being super awkward, so just like pulling of a band-aid or jumping into a pool; I’m just going to do it.  I also relate, sadly, to the rest of the story about Junior Seau, with one major exception.
Around the end of 2005 I had pretty much reached an all-time low in my emotional state.  I was heading down a dark and lonely path and I could not see any way out.  I had recently purchased a condo, which I had no business owning.  I was not in the financial standing to even utter the word homeowner, let alone be one.  But, like many times in my life I listened to poor, selfish, pressure-filled advice from my mother, and once again landed myself in a situation with only one possible outcome…and it was going to be bad.
I always knew I shouldn’t be in that situation, but I wasn’t strong enough to say no to that woman.  I never was.  This had been the story of my entire life, and by the end of 2005 I just couldn’t see anything changing.  So, I decided to change it myself.  I didn’t see much value in living anymore, so as the holidays crept closer I had finally reached a decision to…..cash out, if you will.  I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do this unspeakable act, but I simply didn’t care anymore, and I was fully prepared to follow through.

I started to quietly make plans to end things directly after the holidays.  I don’t feel the need to share my plan of how I was going to do it, but trust me when I tell you I was prepared.  I had already put in for 2 weeks off of work that would extend into the New Year, and I had come to the decision that a pre-New Year’s follow-through was what I wanted.  I didn’t want to risk hanging out with people on New Year’s Eve and start to feel guilty, thus backing out of my plans.  But, life had other plans for me.
Just prior to Christmas a friend from high school came into town for the holidays and she called me up to hang out.  This friend was actually a high school crush (on my end that is, she wanted nothing to do with me), and even though it never became anything other than friend-status, we remained cool throughout the years.  Like most school friends we lost touch when she went off to college and I joined the military.
We eventually reconnected through social media and chatted regularly via IM.  When she called me one day and said she was in town for the holidays and wanted to hang I was a little taken aback.  This was definitely going to throw my plans out of whack.  Nevertheless, we hung out.  In fact, we hung out every day, even after Christmas family stuff was over.  I wish I could tell seeing her made me so happy that it rekindled my joy for life, but that is just not true….in fact, to this day, I wonder if she was planning on doing the same thing I was planning.
This friend of mine had become the most annoying person I ever met, I swear.  All she did was complain about her life.  Every conversation was about her and all her troubles.  I feel terrible admitting this, but all I kept thinking was, “Good Lord woman, just jump and get it over with.”  I was so dumbfounded, how could this girl go from someone I was completely infatuated with in high school to…this?  And to top it off she just wouldn’t leave.  I kept asking her when she was flying back overseas, but she never had a straight answer.
And just like that, the very thing I didn’t want to happen did happen.  Since she never went home, we ended up hanging out on New Year’s Eve.  To this day I still wonder why.  There were so many other friends she could have hung out with, but instead she was with me constantly.  I mean all of her cackling-hen friends from high school were in town, yet she was always with me.  And before you start thinking there something sexual about this, I tell you now, there wasn’t.  Nothing ever happened.  Nothing ever was even hinted at happening.  She even crashed several nights at my place, but she always stayed on the couch, and neither of us ever tried to make something happen.
So, New Year’s Eve came and went, and I spent the entire night “faking the funk,” pretending to have a great time, when in actuality all I was thinking about was what I was going to be doing that very next day.  When the morning of Jan 1, 2006 rolled around (I remember it as clear as if it was yesterday) I was ready to move forward with my plan.  I walked out to my living room to BS with my friend a little bit and try and send her on her way so I could get started, but when I walked out to the living room she was already gone.  Blanket folded, pillow neatly placed on the blanket, and her dishes in the sink.  She was just gone.
As I later stood in the bathroom of my condo prepared to move forward with my plan I found myself standing and just staring in the mirror.  I stared at my reflection in the mirror, but that was simply an outward appearance.  In actuality I was staring into my soul.  I was watching the story that was my life; every disappointing day; one failed thing after another, and everything I ever quit.  And at that moment I heard the faintest voice in my soul speak, “You’ve never finished anything in your entire life…..”  Just then I started to cry at the realization of the brutal honesty of my life, but the voice was not finished.  As I prepared for more painful realizations, expecting even more affirmation to why my current course of action was the right thing, the voice said, “…..please don’t start now.”
Right then I was pulled back to reality like one of those scenes from a movie where the character was traveling through time and space.  Picture what it looked like when the Millenium Falcon went into hyper-drive.  I was no longer staring at my life, I was staring at my now.  I knew right then what I was planning to do was not the right answer; it was the wrong answer; the selfish answer.
From there on out I made the decision to get up and move forward.  I realized it didn’t mean that my life was any better, because truth be told it was not.  In fact it got a lot worse before it got any better, but I never would have known any of this had I followed through with my plan.
I decided to take small steps in improving emotional state.  I even convinced myself to start taking chances in life; small chances, and if they didn’t work out, then so be it.  My first small chance challenge I gave myself, ask out that Cute Girl (that’s what I called her at least) you see every day at work, but have never had the courage to speak to.  You know what I call that Cute Girl now…The Wife.
Now, I’ve said that I wanted to be brutally honest, and for the most part I have, but I also realize that I’ve skirted around the real issue in this blog. One of the hardest things I’ve learned in my time in therapy is that one of the best way to openly face your issues are to say them out loud, call them by name and take their power away. Because if you don’t, they will forever have a hold on you.  So here we go…
I have suffered from depression my entire life, and on January 1, 2006 I planned to commit suicide, but I chose life.  I continue to live with depression every day, but I will always choose life.  My heart goes out to all those who struggle with depression on every level, but most importantly those who cannot choose life in the end.  While some will point the finger at those who do succumb to depression and follow through with their plans that they are weak or that they are cowards, but I tell you now suicide is the greatest cry for help anyone can give, and know that even those individuals who are carrying their plans, they are not happy about it; they are crying out.
Now, to bring this full circle.  The passing my childhood idol hit me really hard.  I am still finding it hard to believe that a man such as Junior Seau would end his life this way.  Instead of morning his choice of suicide I am choosing to celebrate his memory, or at least my memories of him.  What does sadden me a little has been to see the amount of people who are so upset by what happened, but instead of properly mourning the man, they choose to degrade him by calling him weak or a coward.  On friend of mine on Facebook said he did not deserve to be called a hero because he was a coward.  They could not be more wrong.
If you do not want to see him as a hero, that’s one thing, but don’t sully his memory by calling him a coward because he could not fight off a debilitating disease.  He will always be one of my idols, but it’s more important to remember he was a hero to many people, but none more than the 3 children he is leaving behind.  He was their hero, and he always will be.
However, I will say one thing. The most important thing I ever did was to reach out for help.  I had to admit to myself that I needed help, and I still do.  I rely on the love from my friends/family and most importantly my Wife.  Had Junior been able to see the pain that his actions have brought on his family, I truly believe he would have chosen a different path.  There is no positive taken away from someone taking their own life.  I just wished he would have just been strong enough to say he needed help.
I know this is a heavy topic to read, but it’s all true, and it is long overdue for me to talk about.  I have never shared this story with anyone, including the Wife, and while I am not proud of the state I reached, I am proud that I was able to pull myself out, and most of all I am proud I chose life.  And I am proud to share this story with anyone who will listen.  If this story somehow makes you see me in a negative light, then I am sorry for that, but I am not sorry for sharing this story.  I am also proud that I have been strong enough to admit that I need help, and also strong enough to accept that help from others.  My Wife has long been an inspiration for me to grow and change and become the man I should have been long ago.
I have told my Wife several times throughout our relationship that at times I feel like she saved my life. I know she has always taken this in as some sort of over exaggerated show of affection.  Now she knows I mean it.
#55, you will always be one of my heroes; I’m just sorry things had to end the way they did.  I pray you find the peace in death that you could not find in life.

 

Avoiding Generation Meh

I was listening to the radio the other morning, as I do most mornings at work. I tend to listen to sports-talk radio while I sit at my desk and slag away at my mindless job. Like many people here in the DC area, I am a transplant from another (and frankly more awesome) part of the country. I hail from the heaven on Earth known as San Diego, CA, but that’s not really part of the story, I just like saying it.
I listen to a show in the mornings called the Sports Junkies. While the show is obviously geared around sports, the four guys who host the show bring a lot of pop culture and other aspects of life into the format to help reach a broader range of listeners. All four hosts are also married and have kids, which anyone knows about radio shtick, helps tremendously with anecdotes and jokes.
The majority of the jokes and humor are obviously geared towards the main demographic of the show (which I fall into), the male 18-45 range we hear so much about in entertainment. I just realized as I typed that how much closer I am to one side of that demo than the other; yikes, lol. And while I normally laugh along and write off most of the jokes about their wives and kids and normal shtick, one topic that was discussed on a recent show kind of grabbed me, and hasn’t let go.
On a recent show the men were joking and wondering if their kids (all who have grown up in what some would call a fairly cushy life due to their father’s decent fame in the radio industry, and thus sizable paychecks) did really possess the necessary life skills to “make it” if they were gone. One of the foursome joked/lamented that his son lays around all day on weekends and complains about being bored, all the while having all the trappings of iPads and iPhones, video games and every other piece of media entertainment readily at his fingertips. Another talked about how his kids don’t know what it feels like to sit in regular seats at sporting event as they have grown up around the free box seats and hook-ups their dads get via their local celebrity status. And finally all the men joked (or as it is in the DC slang “jonin”) on another member of the show because he discourages his son to wash his own car, and instead take it to a car wash to have someone else do it.
Again, all the comments were made in jest; however, there was a very real common thread in the jokes, and that was that their kids have all grown up soft, and have no life skills. Now, it wasn’t necessarily the fact that their kids were being depicted as lazy that stuck with me, or the fact that this can be said for a lot of kids these days; as technology advances we as a society creep closer to the couch; soon we’re all going to look like the people on Wall-E. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up.
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What got me was a comment made by one of the hosts. He claimed that while he hated to see his son lay around all day and complain to be bored, and even doubts his kid knows how to make a sandwich (SAY WHAT?!?), he didn’t really hold it against him because he himself is not a “manly-man” and didn’t really know, or even want to teach his son how to be a man.
OK, I’m going to leave the “how to be a man” comment for another time, because that phrase, #1 – pisses me off, and #2 – is probably a series of posts within itself. However; what I will talk about is how we, as fathers, or even mothers, let our kids just float along in life because we may not feel ourselves that we are “manly enough” to teach them life skills. I mean, isn’t that the definition of parenting; to teach our children to eventually be functioning adults some day? Isn’t that what you signed up for when you decided to procreate?
Look, I kind of get where that thought process can come from, as I was raised in a one parent household. And it’s not like my mom was a loving/nurturing/supportive person either. My mother’s parenting technique would make growing up with the Lannister’s like a cake-walk.
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If you don’t know who the Lannister’s are; I mean what are you doing with your life?
But despite my upbringing, I still learned to survive. Granted, I don’t really know how to sew, or even really change the oil on my car, but I do know basic life skills like cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, and even changing a flat tire; all skills that each member of the show joked/lamented that their kids knew nothing about.
Why is this funny? Why is it funny to watch the generations that we are responsible for raising and teaching, flounder and struggle with the life’s most basic skills?
Look, I by no means see myself as a manly-man. Or at least not how manly-men have been depicted in the media for many, many years. But, I am someone’s dad, and I am someone’s husband, and that, in and of itself is enough of a driving force for me to want to know things; to gain knowledge on how to survive and provide, and furthermore to pass along that knowledge to my son.
I refuse to accept that my son, and any future children, should be allowed to lay around all day and do nothing with themselves. I pray for my son’s sake that he never says the phrase, “I’m bored” to me while growing up because I will simply explain to him how stupid that sounds. I saw comedian Louis CK on some late night talk show some time back, and explained what he said to his daughters when they said they are bored to him. He said, “’I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’”
Like I said, I know most of what the guys on the Sports Junkies were saying was meant to be light-hearted and semi-self-deprecating, but it’s at times like that, when people least expect they’re being vulnerable, that truth leaks out. I would venture to guess that many parents feel the exact same way about their kids as the guys were joking about. And instead of going on and correcting that by gaining knowledge themselves to pass on to their kids, they just sit back and watch a whole generation begin to fade away into the vast nothingness that is technology.

The Marginalization of Dad

We hear all the time “how far we’ve come as a society” on various topics. Whether it’s battling all forms of discrimination, marriage equality, recognition of individual civil rights, and even raising children, we hear how great we’re doing as a society and how proud we should be of all the progress we’ve achieved over the years. But I can’t help but feel that the more and more I hear how much progress we’ve made, I ask myself, “Have we really come so far? Have we really made progress, or are we just masking the poor behavior in new ways?”
Maybe one of the reasons I have a hard time really buying to the idea that we’ve come a long way is because there is still so much of the “old way of thinking” still running around. As I have navigated the scary waters of parenthood the last 2 years and some change, I find that I still hear/see a great deal of judgment and advice (which is frankly unsolicited the majority of the time) from those who came before me into parenthood. Where one would think that those who have traveled these waters before the rest of us would want to encourage new parents to find our own way, lifting us up with encouraging statements like, “don’t worry, you’re doing the right thing for your little one,” rooting us on and offering the small nuggets of wisdom to ease our worry in those moments of uncertainty, instead, I have seen more than a fair share of the opposite; people judging each other on the way they are raising their kids, and outright labeling each other bad parents. It makes me sad.
Today I read a story that showed that even those first beautiful moments after giving birth is not off-limits from judgment, and is instead seen as fair game for ridicule. I present you the story of Daniel Murphy. Daniel and his wife just gave birth to their child, a healthy baby boy named Noah, on Monday March 31, 2014. While this should be a time of joy and peace for the Murphy family, Daniel is catching public scrutiny for taking 3 days of paternity leave to be with his wife and newborn son. Why public scrutiny you might ask yourself? Well, Daniel Murphy is the starting 2nd basemen for the New York Mets, and his main detractors are no other than the well-adjusted, beautiful members of the New York media. Well, mainly one member of the media, radio personality Mike Francesa of the YES network.
Mr. Francesa took issue with Daniel leaving his team on opening day when he got word that his wife had gone into labor down in Florida. Francesa spent a full 20 minutes on his radio show on Tuesday criticizing Murphy for wanting to be with his wife when she gave birth to their child, calling paternity leave a “scam and a half.” Francesa didn’t stop there, he also went on to scold his fellow male coworkers at YES for using their company-granted 10-day paternity leave, accusing them of scamming the system and doing nothing but taking pictures for those 10 days. Francesca, in his infinite wisdom questioned,
“I don’t know why you need three days off, I’m going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you’re a Major League Baseball player. I’m sorry, but you do … Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple days, you know that”
Francesa wasn’t happy with simply questioning why Mr. Murphy needed to be there during the initial hours post-birth, he had to really bring it home. So he went on to completely minimize the role Daniel should be filling in his new son’s life by saying, “You’re a major league baseball player. You can hire a nurse.”
I really wish I could say that Francesa was the only talking head that had a case of foot-in-mouth disease on this topic, but I would be lying to you. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason (formerly of the Jets and Bengals) jumped on the Meathead-Men wagon with Francesa by saying on his radio show, “You get your ass back to your team and you play baseball … there’s nothing you can do, you’re not breastfeeding the kid.” And if that wasn’t enough to cement his place in the Hall of Fame of Husbands, Esiason added the gem of all statements saying that if it were him, he would have told his wife to have a Caesarean section before the season to avoid any conflict with opening day, and that baseball is what makes the Murphy family their money, and should always take priority, even over childbirth. Husband of the Year right there folks.
To quote a great sports figure Vince Lombardi, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT HERE???” Seriously men, is this really where we are in 2014? Is this really the image we are supposed to be presenting for ourselves? I mean in this day and age where massive conservatives (who both Francesa and Esiason have supported) throw around the term “family values” like they’re asking for a glass of water, where does the idea of a husband saying, “Sorry wife, I know you’re giving birth to our child, but I have to go play baseball, because that’s more important” fit into the conversation?
While I would love to sit here and stoke the flames of anger towards the ignorant male voices on this topic, they aren’t the only ones pushing forward the idea that dads are the lesser option, or at least the less important option, in the early childhood years. Society, as a whole, is still literally *buying* into the marginalization of fathers . Hear me out.
Just back in 2012, Huggies – the major diaper brand Huggies – put out an ad for their new leak-resistant diapers. They said their diapers and wipes were so good that they could put them to the ultimate test, being alone with dad. They deemed the commercial as The Dad Test. The commercial went on to show snapshot moments of several men and their kids while staying in one house, without moms around, for 5 days. Oh no, how will these children ever survive?!?
Ok, first off…..the imagery and (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here) the story they were trying to convey is great. Watching video of the time spent between little ones and their fathers is awesome. But to achieve that goal by clearly portraying dads, as a whole, as some kind of Cro-Magnon knuckle-dragging man who just looks at his kids and grunts, is wrong.
And it’s not just Huggies who depicts fathers this way. I see it in advertising all the time. One common theme is that if mom is not around and dad is in charge, life is nothing but chaos and disorder, and it offends me every time I see it. Companies like Huggies call this insulting scenario the Dad test and frame in a way of, “Let’s see how these bumbling idiots survive without mom around. However will he make it?” Yet, when companies say something is “Mom-Tested” it’s framed in a way that the product has lived up to enormous expectations, and if it passes, it’s great. Just look at the ad slogan for Kix cereal, “Kid tested, Mother approved.” Where is the product that is kid tested, and Dad approved? I’ve yet to see it.
What this all boils down is companies feed off stereotypes in order to sell products, and we as consumers endorse those stereotypes when we buy products from these companies. Some may think this is an overly-sensitive point of view to have, but I would ask how they would react if the situation was reversed for any other product. What if the stereotype was reversed and labeled moms in the same helpless light as Huggies did with dads?
For example, there is an unfounded and completely offensive stereotype that women are worse drivers than men. So, what if a car company created an ad campaign and used the same parameters as Huggies, and conducted something called the “Women Driver Test” where they let female drivers keep a car for 5 days, and we see how well the car stood up while in their possession. Are you kidding me; there would be an instant public outcry for a boycott, and those ad executives would be brought to task for gender discrimination. So where is the outcry for dads? Why is it ok for corporate America to continue to play on the old-world thinking that dads are less capable than moms, and therefore less required to be around?
We say we’ve come a long way. We say families are changing and evolving. I say it’s time we stop just talking the talk, and actually start walking the walk. Personally, not just as a dad, but as a man, I feel it’s important to be a constant part of my son’s life, now and forever. I have been involved in every aspect of my son’s life (feedings, changing diapers, playing, rocking to sleep, teaching, discipline etc.), and those are not just moments that happened, they are also memories I get to have for the rest of my life, knowing I didn’t miss a single moment.
Much of the ignorance that was spewed by Mike Francesa, Boomer Easiason and others, as well as the creation of ad campaigns like the Huggies Dad Test, get brushed off by a copout excuse of old world thinking. People like Francesa justify their comments by saying things like, “this is how it was back in my day.” Well, I have news for you sir, this is clearly not *your day* anymore. While I realize, or at least would like to hope, the mindset of people like Francesa and Easiason are the minority, it’s the fact that this close-minded old world thinking is still preached that bothers me. While it’s fading away with the rest of the other the discriminatory thinking that has plagued social issues, all it takes is for one young person to hear those kinds of comments and when they latch onto them, it allows the heartbeat of misguided thought to keep pumping.
In order for us as a society to truly show we have made progress, we have to leave this old world thinking behind. The idea of this macho culture where a man goes out works all day while the woman stays home and tends to the kids, and the man is not to be involved or bothered is ancient and archaic. Instead of criticizing Daniel Murphy or any other man who takes time to be with his newborn child, maybe instead we should congratulate him and aspire to be more like them. I mean, aren’t there worse things in this world than supportive and involved fathers? I think so.

Spanking Does Not Equal Discipline, or Respect

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When I first found out my Wife was pregnant with our son, I was over-the-moon excited.  I had always wanted to be a parent for as long as I can remember and while we were actively trying to get pregnant I couldn’t help but be excited as if it were a complete surprise to me.  I had always had these grand ideas of how I was going to be a great parent, mostly because my parents were such poor examples.  I would simply do everything opposite of them.  How could I fail?

But as the initial excitement that sent me sky-high with joy predictably began to fade, and I started to come back to earth with my emotions, I was met by something I wasn’t ready for; fear.  My joy of finding out that I was getting my opportunity to be a father took a serious turn down a fear-based path that I was caught off guard completely.

I started to obsess that maybe I wasn’t going to be a better parent because of what poor examples my mother and absent father were, but maybe the exact opposite.  Maybe I had seen what kind of parent I would be in them.  Maybe I had seen my destiny through their actions.  I mean how many times have we all heard, “we are products of our environment.”

I’ve always had an over-active mind, so to say I obsessed over something is putting it mildly.  It reached a point where my Wife had to have a serious talk with me, telling me to calm down.  But even with all the talking and encouraging, my Wife knows the damaged past I come from, and although some of it can be pushed aside by realizing I am better person than the environment I came from, there is still a difficulty and dark part that can’t be so easily ignored.

One area I struggled with when my Wife and I had long conversations about how we saw ourselves raising a child was discipline.  As most people from my generation can relate to, spanking was the form of discipline I was most familiar with; not in favor of, just familiar with.  My Wife on the other hand was never spanked as a child, nor was her sister.  My in-laws saw no value in violence as a tool to teach a lesson.  I agreed instantly.  My Wife and I agreed we never wanted to spank our son, but I feared I would when I was upset or frustrated with him one day.  When my Wife asked me where this fear came from I revealed to her how my mother “spanked” me as a child.  To be more clear, my mother did more than spank me when she felt I needed discipline or punishment.  My mother would express her anger or disappointment through violently striking me with her fists, feet, and any other object she could get her hands on, and all the while telling me how it was my fault this was happening.  And for most of my life I believed her.

So why am I choosing now to talk about this?  As my son has reached an age where he is starting to act out, push boundaries, and unfortunately even hit others at times, I find myself conflicted on how to handle the idea of discipline.  Added confusion has come recently as I recently saw a person I respect and care for very much, post on social media that spanking your kids is the only way to teach them respect, and in turn the lack of corporal punishment is the reason why society is on a down-turn as it pertains to adolescent behavior and lack of discipline.  After reading that post, to say I was left conflicted would be putting it mildly.

Even though I may be writing about my confusion and even at times torn nature on the idea of discipline, know that the way I was disciplined as child will never happen to my son.  So we can put that to bed right now.  I simply wanted to illustrate the kind of background I come from, and the long road I travel to get away from it.

My confusion and questions stem from 3 points I listed above: 1) the idea that spanking/hitting equals discipline or respect; 2) what value does hitting a child or even beating them into submission bring to a relationship, and 3) has the lack of spanking in younger generations really caused the slow decline in society, and how has my generation been shaped by the forms of discipline they experienced.  While I am no scientist or highly educated person, I have my own opinions on this topic….and that’s all this is; my opinion.  Take it or leave it…..

Hitting helps teach discipline and respect: I don’t need to be a scientist with massive research or a Harvard professor publishing a paper to answer this question.  The answer is no, and if you think it does, you’re wrong.  Violence only teaches one thing…violence.  Just look yourself in the mirror and say the phrase, “I’m hitting you for your own good” and if you can tell me with a straight face that that doesn’t sound F’ing crazy to you, then great, but I will then tell you I don’t want to know you.  Yes, you could argue that my view on this topic is stronger than others because of the extreme example of abuse I endured as a kid, but I would argue how is spanking your child any different from when my mother would beat me into submission?  You’re still hitting your child…YOUR CHILD….to show them they need to respect you!  If your boss walked up to you at work and expressed their displeasure with your answers in the meeting by beating you at work, would respect them?  I think not.

What value does spanking bring:  Again, this is a no-brainer, it brings zero value.  Unless of course your goal is to teach what dominance over another person feels like.    I mentioned earlier about a social media post with the caption, “My parents spanked me as a child and now I suffer from a psychological disorder known as respect for others.”  Well that’s just great.  The reason why this stupid social media post pissed me off is because by that rationale, the reason I’m a respectful, kind, and loving person is because my mother beat me senseless.  I refuse to endorse, or even accept that idea of holding even one iota of truth in it.

The so called Wussification of America:  I’m sure I’ve driven the point home, but the idea that kids are being hit less is somehow a bad thing, and even more the reason our society is slipping is beyond ridiculous in my opinion.  The argument I tend to hear on this is people saying that instead of kids being spanked these days, parents prefer to talk to their kids and ask them to express their feelings.  And where’s the problem with that?  Still, even in 2014 the idea of expressing your feelings is mocked, ridiculed, and made to look like you’re weak by having feelings (especially if you’re a male).  The overly-macho type of attitude is a piece of what is dragging down our society, not the expressing of feelings.

So, where does this leave us parents (of young ones that is) when it comes to the idea of disciplining our children?  Well, I think I’ve made my views pretty clear, but I would never presume to tell someone they cannot spank their children.  Maybe it works for you.  But I would ask yourself the next time you reach back to slap your kid when they’re acting up in the backseat of the car, or when you’re about to slap them on the rear end for acting up, “Why am I doing this, and what do I hope to get out of this?”  We as parents spend a great amount of time teaching our kids to not hit people and that hitting is wrong, and then you turn around and hit them, for what; being a kid?  And, if you can’t get the same point across with you
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words that you would with physically harming them, then is that about them or is it really about you?

The idea that we teach our children that expression of emotion is wrong, but expressing anger through physical violence is somehow acceptable boggles my mind altogether.  It’s the lack of priorities in raising our children that is actual reason why our society is in a decline.  We devalue emotion, except if it’s anger.  I refuse to keep that idea alive, and instead will continue to talk to my son.  I will teach my son that being a man has nothingto do with who you can dominate or harm, and everything to do with how you express yourself and care for others.

Months 22 and 23 Check-In: The Holiday Edition

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Well buddy, your Dad did it again…..I slacked off so long that another 3 months have gone by and I am once again playing catch-up on your adventures.  You know, it’s funny, your Dad has these crazy dreams of being a writer someday (for a living that is), yet I can barely stay motivated to keep on a blog that maybe 10 people read at any given moment.  Well, at least I’m consistent in that I guess.  Well, not to get too hard on myself, I’ll get it right one of these days.
This has been probably the worst time for me to slack off on writing since you’ve had so many adventures this holiday season, and have grown on so many levels.  So we’re going to do this check-in a little different and go month-to-month first, and then we’ll cover some overarching achievements….
October:
Well as I mentioned in the beginning, the holidays have come and gone, and boy what an awesome time you had.
October started on high note as your Dad ran in his first 5K.  I was so happy that you and Mom came out to cheer me on.
P1020643 P1020634It really help Daddy to know you and Mom were waiting for me at the finish line.

Before
Before

AFTER!!!
AFTER!!!

We also completed our first home project.  We completely redid our backyard.  What was once a nasty no-so-kid-friendly area with stone and gross vines, is now a grass-covered play area just waiting for the weather to improve for you to play in.  I can’t wait for our first session of kicking the ball around the yard buddy.
P1020673We took you to your first pumpkin patch.  It’s only fitting since we keep telling you you’re our little Charlie Brown; however, there was no spotting of the Great Pumpkin.  Maybe next time.  You had really good time.
P1020695 P1020690You certainly loved playing on the slides at the pumpkin patch.  We couldn’t get you off them, lol.
P1020704You finished off your second swim course; this time with the older kids in the Toddler and Me class.  You had great time.
P1020727Weeeeeellll….maybe Mommy and Daddy had more of the “fun”
IMG_0216Another Halloween, another cute costume.  Mommy and Daddy are always telling people you’re our Little Monster, and now we proved it.  You had such a blast at the party we all went to.
IMAG0152But we might have kept you out a bit too late.  You got all Cinderella on us.  Who knew you would turn into a pumpkin at 8pm?!?
November:
November really slowed down for us as Mommy traveled for work a little bit, and Daddy started a new job.  With all that, and Thanksgiving around the corner, we kept it pretty low-key.  But we still had some good times.
IMAG0157 IMG_0241Like when we went to the nature center near our house.  You had a blast picking up sticks and looking at all the different animals at the nature center.
IMG_0246Then we all went out for a nice dinner.  You sure do love posing for picture bud.
IMG_0245But you got to keep your head on a swivel buddy, or else you might get PhotoMommed (your Mom TM’ed that term btw).
IMG_0259Mommy went on a long business trip and was missing us, so she asked Daddy to send her a pic of us together.  I like this one…
IMG_0260 IMG_0261But you had a better idea, called bouncing a ball off my head.  You win.
IMG_0268You started exploring the idea of feeding yourself with a spoon.
IMG_0269The result was craziness, lol
IMG_0271So you went back to what works for ya.
IMG_0284 IMG_0295You had some play-dates with some friends….girl friends that is.  2 in less than a week I might add, AND you put your game on display.  Well done my man, well done, lol.
IMAG0188 IMAG0187Mommy spent a good portion of her vacation painting your room.  That counts as home project #2.  It looks so nice now; like a big boy’s room even.
IMAG0197 IMAG0198We had a lot of cleaning to do because we were hosting Thanksgiving for friends at our house this year, and look at that….you pitched in.  Get use to it kiddo; chores are in your future.
IMAG0203Mommy and Daddy were super excited to run the Turkey Trot 5k this year.  This was Mommy’s first ever 5k.
IMG_0308 IMAG0202Excitement for you; not so much.
IMG_0309 IMG_0314But all was forgiven once we got home and you were able to watch the Macy’s Parade on TV, and you even helped Mom get things ready for Thanksgiving dinner.
IMAG0219 IMAG0216And of course, what month would be complete without some pics of you being silly while playing outside.
December:
What a fun month December was.  Not only did we have a trip up to see Grammie and Grampy in Massachusetts to look forward to, but also our own Christmas traditions at home.
IMG_0350 IMG_0346Like spending a snow day having fun with Mom and Dad.
IMAG0244Like you helping Mom and Dad pick out the tree.
IMAG0262 IMAG0263And then helping with the decoration of the tree.
IMAG0274Turned out pretty nice.  Good job buddy!
IMAG0248You even helped Mom decorate the outside of the house too!
IMAG0276 IMAG0277We had an early Christmas (or Crusemas, another one of your Mother’s creations, lol) before heading out on the road for MA.
IMAG0280You got all kinds of cool gifts, but none more favorite than your new ball.
IMAG0288 IMAG0289You and Mommy thought it would be cute to get Daddy a Doc McStuffins phone for Christmas, lol.  You even were showing me how it works.
IMG_0380The next morning it was time to hit the road, and boy were you excited.
IMAG0290 IMAG0294On our trip up North we stopped off at your favorite place to play, the Philly Children’s Museum.  You had a blast.
IMG_0400We finally arrived in MA and you and Mommy got right to decorating Grammie and Gampy’s tree too.  We all had such a great time.
IMAG0322 IMAG0323You got in some practice of unwrapping gifts by taking all of Grammie’s wrapping paper off their roles.  You’re lucky she loves you very much my friend, or else you would have been in big trouble.
IMG_0405 IMG_0424We got to get all dressed up and go to church for Grampy’s Christmas Eve service.
IMG_0420Your awesome Aunt J was there too.  She thinks you’re the cutest thing ever…..because you are.
IMG_0441The fun didn’t stop with Christmas.  Grampy followed through with his promise to take you to Wendy’s for a frosty.  You were in ice cream heaven my friend.
IMAG0340 IMAG0332 IMAG0336You also hung out at Grampy’s church.  You love playing in his office, and even tried out his microphone.  And from the looks of things, you might have the “preaching gene” just like Grampy, lol.
IMAG0344You sure did love hanging out with Grammie in the kitchen watching all the comings and goings; all the way up to our last day.
IMAG0347On the way home Mommy had an awesome surprise for you and found another kids museum in Connecticut.  It had some really cool exhibits, like your favorite; the water and balls exhibit .
Daddy decided to do this entry a little different buddy.  There were so many moments to remember during the holidays.  But, I must also point out how much you have grown in the last 3 months, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.  Your vocabulary has exploded as of late.  You still struggle most times to get across what you want, but you’re finding new ways to express that without getting overly frustrated and defeated.  Your problem solving skills have grown by leaps and bounds.  It has been really fun (and sometimes frustrating) to watch.
This holiday season was definitely one to remember.

21 Month Check-In (With Months 19 and 20 mixed in)

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Well buddy, it looks like Daddy dropped the ball once again.  I failed to get your monthly updates written for months 19 and 20.  While I want to blame my lack of effort on the fact that it’s my busy time of year (working 2 jobs and officiating youth sports in my “free time”); or even on the fact that you have not been the most “awesome” person over the last several months (seriously, this whole living with a toddler thing is hard work); to be honest, I just messed up, and I’m sorry for that.  I can’t say I won’t mess up again, but I will try my best to be better.

Now, onto the good stuff…..

What’s New:

We’re inching closer and closer to your 2nd birthday, which blows my mind. I know I keep saying this over and over, but I can’t believe how much you’ve changed since we last checked in.  While I’m around you every day, it’s when I look back over the pictures from just a month or two prior that I really see how much you’ve grown and changed.  You’re seriously independent now.  You do most things on your own, or demand that we allow you to try.

Learning, Learning, Learning:

With Dad gone so much the last couple months we haven’t really had the opportunity to go to a lot of places.  But one trip you took last month was when Mom took you to the National Aquarium in DC.

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You had such a good time looking at all the fish and all the pretty colors

20131022-120551.jpgDad found it highly ironic that you of all people were playing with the Wheel of Doom.  So, I wonder where the “Benjamin” category is on that wheel, lol.

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We also found out you love arts and crafts time.

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Ok, maybe “LOVE” is a bit too strong of a word.

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Apparently the life of an artist is truly rough.

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It’s really awesome to watch you interact with your books.  You love story time. You now have Mommy and Daddy read you 4 different books at bedtime. Your current favorite is, “The Book of Sleep.”

20131022-124422.jpgYou’ve become pretty good at sharing too.  Just the other day when Mommy asked you to share 1 toy, we could see you trying to process the request, and eventually you gladly handed Mom all your toys you were playing with.  You’re really good about that kind of stuff…..

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Even if it’s after doing something you weren’t supposed to do, lol.

Your vocabulary has really exploded over the last 3 months, and your Mom and I know it’s going to grow even more in the next few months.  You still love the word “NO,” but you have a few new favorites as well.  You’ve become a huge fan of the word “MINE!”  We understand that’s normal and all, but maybe tone it down a bit bro.  We’re starting to understand you and your needs a bit easier as you regularly say “EAT, EAT” when you’re hungry, or “STEP” when you want to go downstairs and play in the basement or go outside.  And you’ve really gotten the hand of signing some words like “please, thank you, and help.”

With all the upswing of new learned skills, there is also a downside, which came in the form of your attitude that has kind of gone in the tank again.  Tantrums are in full effect right now, and unfortunately you have taken to hitting Mom and Dad when you get frustrated.  Thankfully you don’t do this to others (i.e. kids at daycare).  We know it’s normal; it’s just Mom and Dad wish we could help you better work through your frustrations.

Moments to Remember:

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Dad traveled for the first time on a long trip without you and Mom.  I went to visit your Uncles Mark and Andy and Aunt Sara out in San Diego, CA.  While it was great to be home and see my friends, I have to admit I really missed you guys.  But not to worry, Grammie came down from Boston to hang out with you and Mom while I was gone, and she was a big help……

20131022-130641.jpgWhen she was awake, that is…

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That’s alright, you quickly clued Grammie in on how things work around our house; if you’re awake, everyone is awake.

20131022-130703.jpgYour #1 fan Auntie J even spent her last free afternoon with you before heading out on her road trip to Utah.  She moved there for a job opportunity.  While we all miss her very much, we are super proud of her for going after her dreams.  She can’t wait to see you at Christmas.

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Grammie knew how to get right back in your good graces….ice cream

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Finally, we went to the grand opening of the Stamp Gallery at the National Postal Museum in DC.  We took a picture with another famous Benjamin, or if your Great-Grammie Huff were to see this picture, she would have thought it was you, me and Grammie Lombard (lol, that’s an inside joke for Mom, Dad and Auntie J).

On The Menu:

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You’ve become a pretty good eater.  You eat most things Mom and Dad give you.  Except on days you outright refuse to eat anything; which still happens from time to time.  You’re still a big fan of apples and pears.  We discovered just the other day that you like pizza too, as you stole Dad’s lunch and ran off with it, eating it in the process, lol, you’re lucky you’re cute.

Likes:

20131022-130744.jpgYou love spending a lot of time outside.  We try and take you to the park as much as possible.  But, you are just as happy playing out in front of the house with all the neighborhood kids too.

You really love playing with your trucks now, going TOOT TOOT.  It’s cute beyond words.

But I think your most favorite thing to do right now, is wrestle with Dad.  I’m starting to think the Jiu Jitsu gene is in your blood.  You’ve already got some decent moves kiddo:

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Great smash and pass to get side mount buddy.

IMG_0142 IMG_0141A little knee-on-belly to a north-south transition.

IMG_0143And there he goes for the submission, lol.

Dislikes:

Well, nothing really stands out, but then again you’re a toddler so your moods and likes/dislikes change like the wind.

Adventures:

We kept it pretty low-key recently, but we made sure to squeeze in a least a little family time too.

We closed out the summer by going to a really cool street fair where you got to climb all over some fire trucks.

IMAG0706You weren’t quite sure what to make of the whole thing.

IMAG0719But Mommy was totally into it, lol.

IMAG0704You liked exploring the fire house.

IMAG0721All in all a good time.

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You also had a great time at your friend Nina’s birthday party.  Well, to be honest, you cared more about the pool than you did the party, but you had fun nonetheless.

Like I said before, sorry for falling behind here buddy, I will try my very best not to let it happen again.  I can’t believe you are barely a couple months away from turning 2 years old.  It seems like yesterday we were bringing you home.  Even though it may seem like Dad is stressed out or annoyed a lot of the time, I hope you know how much I love you, and moments like below that I cherish the most.

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Love, Dad

P.S. – You’ve become the master of the “selfie” I swear, and you have the Blue Steel model look down to an art, lol

IMAG0026Dad’s new favorite photo of you and Mom

IMAG0886Blue Steel!!!

18 Month Check-In

IMAG0632What’s New:
Wow buddy, I can’t believe you’re 18 months old!  I mean, how has it been a year and a half already since you were born?!?  Time is sure ticking away fast.  I know Dad is being a little over-dramatic, but I can’t help it as I watch you grow before my very eyes.  Ok ok, onto what we came here for…..
Well, this month was a marked improvement over last moth.  While you’re still having some “attitude issues,” you were in a far better mood overall.  We embarked on our first family road trip, and while your Mom and I were really nervous about how you would be in a car for 8+ hours a day, you completely surprised both of us by being a complete stud.  Heck, you did better than Mom and Dad; well, at least better than Dad who lost his cool a few times with idiot drivers.
Learning, Leaning, Learning:
We spent a good deal of time at several children’s museums on our road trip.  Your Mom and I are quickly learning these places are great for pit stops along the way, and it gives you something to do to burn up some of that energy.  Plus, you really seem to enjoy learning and playing.
P1020515Here you are outside the children’s museum in Philly.  We all had such a great time.  Definitely the best museum so far.
P1020507You couldn’t wait to get downstairs and start reorganizing the kitchen……
IMAG0699…..just like you do at home
You’ve learned a few new words this month.  While “NO!!” is still your favorite thing to say, you’ve started saying words like, “bubble,” “door” and “ball.”  You also do the “moooo” sound whenever Mommy asks you what a cow says; and it’s over the moon adorable.  I think your most precious skill this month, is the refined kiss you give us now.  No more open mouth, sloppy kisses against our face.  Now, they are pursed lips kisses, and they’re cute.
Moments To Remember:
This, buddy, will probably be the bulk of this blog. because there was so many awesome memories from this past month.  As usual, you spent some good ole QT with your #1 fan, Aunty J!
IMG_1244 IMAG0553You two sure do have a blast together……
IMAG0565…..that is until Aunty J punched you in the face! Just kidding, Mom and Dad just got lucky with this pic, lol
IMAG0634You had such a blast playing in the water on our vacation.  Mom and Dad are so happy you have become such a water baby. Certainly has made swim class a whole lot easier.
IMAG0637 IMG_1347 You got to meet your cousin Cutie-Patootie.  Boy is she ever a cutie pie.
IMG_1364 P1020592You earned your sea-legs on our trip too.
P1020622 Probably the best part of the trip was that you got to spend some awesome quality time with Grammie and Grampy.  They loved hanging out with you so much.
On The Menu:
Chicken noodle soup was still the big winner this month. Although, you did change it up a bit when you preferred eating hot dogs while they were in your soup.  Mom and I just called it Hot Dog Noddle Soup.  Hey, whatever gets you to eat I guess.
IMAG0695You did however enjoy a brief stint with beef ravioli.  Boy was that a mess.
We also discovered a new treat you just happen to be nuts about……
Likes:
…..and that treat is
P1020564ICE CREAM!!!  We were convinced you would only eat a little bit…
P1020575But boy were we wrong!!  You ate most of Daddy’s, and then went after Mommy’s too.  You’re silly kiddo.
IMAG0627Your love for dismantling everything and spreading it all over the place has not diminished at all.
IMG_1380 IMG_1381You really love poking around in other people’s garbage….no seriously, you always head straight for the trash can at other people’s houses.  What’s that all about??
IMAG0687 IMAG0688As I said earlier, you really love the water now.  So much so that Daddy can’t even water the plants without you getting all soaked.  Something tells me you’re going to be a “run through the sprinklers” kind of kid too.
IMG_1367But most of all, your Mother and I were pleased to see that you have developed an enjoyment for spending some quiet time, reading a book…..in the nude.
Dislikes:
Nothing new this month.  You still hate being told “NO!” by us, even though you say it repeatedly to us.
Adventures:
Well buddy, we had a great time on our trip.  You were such a good boy.  Mom and Dad really needed this vacation, and you certainly made it enjoyable.
P1020522 P1020534You were certainly spreading the love around…
P1020539 P1020541And look how well rested Mom and Dad look.
It was a pretty awesome month with you kiddo.  I still can’t believe you are only 6 months away from being 2 years old.  If 18 months went by this fast, I feel like 6 more months are going to go by in a blink of an eye.  But at least, while the time is flying by, it has always been packed full of some kind of fun or adventure.  You certainly do keep us on our toes kiddo….
IMAG0694….especially with looks like this, lol.  Your Mom and I know you will always keep us busy.  I love you kiddo.
– Dad