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February, 2011 | Everyday Childhood

Archives for February 2011

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Under Siege: Adventures of a Stay at Home Dad

Welcome David,  a new monthly contributor to our little Friday Dad’s column. He wanted to give writing a shot and I wanted to hear what he had to say. So enjoy! -xo Kelly

Last week, I spent the evening with Syd, my 5-year-old daughter, at a Father & Daughter Dance fundraiser for her school. I’m still recovering. It was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be: Syd running around the event with all of her friends, screaming, chasing each other and having a great time in general, while I watched from a distance and sat in amazement that that little blonde leading the pack, giving orders to the other kids, and running much faster in her dress shoes than I’d imagined she could…that’s my little girl. That happens a lot actually, that stunned feeling, that realization that “Wow, I’m THAT little girls Daddy.”

Syd’s not the one that made me the Stay at Home Dad, though. That
opportunity came to me when Syd’s sisters, twins Em and Maddie,
arrived on the scene about a year and a half ago. That’s when my
education really began. With Sydney, I got to spend every morning with
her as I took her to daycare on my way to work. It was always a fun
experience. We’d sing songs on the way (They Might Be Giants “Here
Come the 1,2,3’s” was on high rotation) I got into the habit of taking
a picture of her everyday as I was taking her to class…it became a
part of our routine. Even her teacher would remind me when I’d forget,
that it was picture time. As a result, I have a great time line in
photographs of her. With the twins, however, I haven’t done that,
mostly because it’s “Go! Go! Go!” from the moment they wake up until
the moment they go to bed, so my picture taking is much more random…

Typically, with all the action and drama of getting Sydney ready for
and to school as well as getting the twins going, it’s completely nuts
here, all day long. Amid all this chaos I forget to stop and realize
that I’m pretty luck to be home with them. It wasn’t planned. It was
an unexpected set of circumstances (a unexpected layoff, a horrible
job market and then the ultrasound tech’s announcement that we were
having twins, combined with the outrageous expense of daycare) that
conspired to make me the Stay at Home Dad that I am today. It was the
right decision, but I still sometimes struggle through that male ego
thing that says to me that I should be out there, be the earner, be
the breadwinner, but when it comes down to it, I love that I get to
spend this time with the girls, and I’m learning the tricks of the
trade, as well as encountering new challenges all the time. I’m sure
I’ll be sharing those along the way. I’ll try to bring some other
things to the table as well.

I’m always curious, and a little scared, about what tomorrow is going
to bring. It’s an interesting ride, that’s for sure, but for now, I’m
a father of 3 girls, I’m surrounded by women…My name is Dave and I’m
Under Siege.

Still No Owner’s Manual.

I know I’m not the only one who can’t believe that freshly birthed babies aren’t followed down the birth canal by an owner’s manual—in fact, Josh recently pointed this out.  And it makes me wonder if Mother Nature is just lazy, or if she has a really inconvenient sense of humor:  “I know what could make this more entertaining for me: let’s say I invent newborn twins with colic and then we watch those yokels tap dance!  Yeah!”

Seriously–how does a hospital, in good conscience, discharge 6 pounds of poop mechanism to doe-eyed parents, with no instruction handbook, and just let them walk out with her?  I wonder that, still.  My baby turned seven years old recently, and I still can’t believe that a) we kept her alive this whole time (!!), and b) the hospital trusted us to keep her alive.  We’re clueless!  We know nothing about caring for the well-being of a baby human!  We’re lucky we can remember our names AND brush our teeth all on the same day!  We kill hardy houseplants!  We let fish expire in this expensive (yet quite pretty) aquarium!  After thirty years, we have yet to whip up a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese without having to read the directions first!  (But hey, at least Kraft includes directions—am I right?)

And that’s the BEST case scenario—apparently bringing home twins born four weeks premature is a piece of freakin’ cake.  I went home with fewer instructions for the twins than I did with my first child.  I would have appreciated the discharge nurse at least saying—in her most sage voice—“may The Force be with you” as we left the building.  But nope.  They let morons like us drive away with these tiny humans and then they probably go home and chuckle at their twisted senses of humor, in the relative silence of their own homes, with their wine and bonbons and new episodes of How I Met Your Mother that they don’t even have to DVR because hey—they can watch television in real time because they sent all the loud kids home with me!  Patooey on that, I say—patooey!

Granted, some of us aren’t clueless when it comes to raising children.  Don’t get me wrong—I’m totally the clueless one here.  But I’m talking about my wiser, more Mormon friends.  Have you ever met a postpartum Mormon who couldn’t soothe a teething infant as she balances two other kids on each hip while whipping up an amazing venison stew in between hemming pant legs and sewing curtains?  Some of us feel like we’re reinventing the wheel when we are doped into bringing an infant home.  We fumble around and pray the baby never notices that we have no idea what we’re doing, and hope our Mormon (or Irish Catholic) neighbors never catch onto our stupidity.  And then we spend the next 17 years sighing in relief that we made it past that first year—while our more seasoned peers purposefully raise their children with such adeptness that it’s no longer a puzzle why some of us are commanding a NASA space mission while the rest of us are getting our warm tongues stuck to icy telephone poles.

What is the point of this rambling?  Oh, nothing–just reminiscing about the grudge I hold against my obstetrician for not delivering an owner’s manual with the children, and then feeling envious of my Mormon friends who seem like they know what they’re doing.  But the good news is that I am allowed to drink more adult beverages than both of those parties, so who’s the sucker now?  Hint: still me.

~~~~~~

Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.

Bridging the Parenting Gap

Josh is going on hiatus from our little Friday Dad’s column. Have no fear… a new batch of dads are coming in from the bull pen to fill the void. I’ve added a few notes throughout the post. I’m the editor… I can do that! xo K

Parenting is one of the most challenging and yet gratifying things a human being can and probably will ever encounter. When your children are born you’re not supplied with a handy dandy Owner’s Manual. Wow, wouldn’t that be awesome though? Can you imagine one that’s customized to each child? Ooh! I think I’m going to invent this! Wait, I may have a problem actually ensuring it’s delivered with baby. Yeah, that could be a sticky situation.

Where was I? (Note from the editor: I will miss this most. Ha!)

Oh right, so my point is from the time you get the news that you or your spouse is pregnant you’re running off to the bookstore. We read as much as we can about that little being that’s going to enter our lives. As prepared as we think we’re getting nothing really prepares us for that big day. It’s kind of ironic what happens when you or your spouse finally do give birth. Ironic in that everyone wants to be around you to provide you with support but what often winds up happening is that we still feel all alone! Whether it’s when we’re up at 2:00am trying to console a screaming baby or doing everything you can to prevent your 17 month old from stuffing a crayon up your 2 year olds nose!

One of the best things I’ve done, as a parent, to bridge the gap between supportive family, books, and that loneliness I was talking about is: the world of blogging/social media. I’ve met so many incredible parents through my blog, this blog, Twitter, and Facebook. (Editor’s Note: I totally agree on this!) We may not know each other personally but we’re all going through very similar things. What’s great is you can turn your computer or phone on anytime of the day/night and have instant community. As a parent who loves talking about my experiences, sharing advice, and seeking advice of my own I’ve found an incredible vehicle. Blogging, and spending time on social media sites isn’t for everyone. There are downsides of course and I’m not really going to get into those here. The point of this post isn’t about the pros and cons of social media. More so, my intent is to encourage you to reach out in whatever way is comfortable for you.

Parenting doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. Getting support from others and surrounding yourself with others in similar situations is not only important but it will make you a better person/parent. Of course, if you’re reading this you’re already doing that. If you’re not writing a blog of your own now or spending time around parents online you may want to consider doing so. I never had aspirations to become a writer. In fact, I didn’t read my first book until after I graduated High School. However, I’ve found that writing is actually an amazing tool to channel my energy (positive and negative).

I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked by Kelly to write on her blog for the last few months. This blog is a great place to find the support and resources I’ve been reffering to. Unfortunately, this is going to be my last regular post on Kelly’s blog for awhile. (*sadface* Note from the editor) Of course, you can still find me on www.DadStreet.com, Monday nights on my new show www.LateNightParents.com with Adam Cohen of www.DadaRocks.com and also on www.DadsTalking.com.

I may not be here moving forward (*Note from the editor: But you’ll visit! Right!?) but I encourage you to reach out to me via any of the sites I just mentioned! In addition, I’m always around on Twitter @DadStreet and via Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DadStreet. Whether you’re reaching out to me, Kelly or any of the other great parenting resources out there I encourage you to find what works for you and share, share, share. After all, what more important topic can you think of that’s worth sharing than the one that involves the health and well being of our beautiful children?

*Note: Thank you Josh… for all of the insightful posts over the last several months! I appreciate your effort and most of all your friendship. I look forward to the new batch of dads we get to stalk in the coming weeks here at Everyday Childhood.

Mars and Venus–I’m telling you.

Ways I’ve noticed that boys and girls are different:

The girl smells the flower.
The boy plucks every petal off and throws it all to the ground.

When the girl is finished eating, she pushes her plate out of the way and asks, “Dessert, please?”
When the boy is finished eating, he flings his cup and plate onto the floor and screams, “Moooooooooom!”

The girl lines up her Disney Princesses in an orderly fashion in front of her and talks to them.
The boy stacks up blocks and knocks them down over and over.

The boy maniacally sprays out messy zerberts.
The girl replies, “Please, don’t spit on me.”

I swear, I’ve raised them exactly the same–They’re twins. I am with both of them together the same amount (read: all of the) time, treat them the same, I use the same language and vocabulary for both. And somehow, after 3 years, the girl seems to be 100% civilized while the boy is still bordering on neanderthalic (unless you’re going to tell him one day that I said that, in which case I mean to say “the boy is just hunky dory with me”).

What other examples do you have to share?

~~~~~~

Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.

The Unselfish Act of Love

It’s Valentine’s Day and I thought I’d take a moment to get something off my chest. Love is unselfish. There. I said it.

I’ve been in the field of sales and marketing for the majority of my adult life. It’s a field that’s filled with “strings attached” relationships. The relationships aren’t give and take… they are take and take some more. Not always… but even still… the whole I’ll scratch your back IF you scratch mine mentality… has always bothered me. But I roll with it. That’s how the game is played.

For me, relationships are built on friendships and friendships are built on trust. The best relationships I have are with the people that I trust. I trust them because I know that I don’t have to DO anything to be loved. And in turn… they just have to be themselves.

So… I’ll say it again. Love is unselfish. Real love isn’t the result of who you know or what events you can get your friends into. It’s not how popular you are or who you work with. And real love certainly doesn’t leave you behind once those selfish gains are attained.

Love remains when all else has gone.

How do you love? What do you expect in return… if anything?