Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm 32, a dad, and I am not a douchebag...

With each passing day I grow more and more frustrated with how dads are portrayed in society.  Now, could make some heavy statement about how dads are being held down by the man.  Or, how as dads we are a much maligned group of people deserving a chance to stand side-by-side equally with the mothers of our children.  I could say a lot of things, but the truth is some of us are douche bags.

All I will ask is that you readers and the rest of society who may never actually read this: Please give us a shot...Don't ignore us in children's literature; Don't constantly make us the butt of every parenting joke; Don't assume we're just idiots plodding along pretending we know what we're doing (yeah we probably don't know what we're doing, but most of us try, and we try hard).

For the dads, this is going to take some effort.  There are a few of you out there that are giving us a bad name.  If you fall into any of the three following categories please pull yourself together and try to set a better example:

  1. Horrified Diaper Changing Dad-  Listen, everyone poops.  At some point you are going to have to change a messy diaper, and it will smell terrible.  But the moment you feel you need to put a mask on to protect you from that diaper you've already lost.  Worse yet, when you heave or actually throw up, the top of the dad ladder sinks just a few more feet.  The stink of that diaper is nothing compared to the stink of cowardice wafting off of you every time you hesitate to change that diaper.  Get in there and quit complaining already.  Face it, Your poop doesn't smell like roses. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

So much can happen in a couple months...

Adventure to Longwood Gardens
Well, it's been two months since my last post and it's been a wild and crazy ride.  For starters, my little girl has turned 2.  I can hardly believe that it's been 2 years since we took her home from the hospital as new parents...Now, she's running and talking and singing all over the house and I can't remember what it was like when she wasn't here grabbing onto my legs.

So what' been happening since my last post?

1.  My daughter has completely given up on the high chair or anything resembling a high chair.  In the weeks leading up to her birthday meal times became unbearable.  She threw a fit every time we strapped her into the high chair and once she really got worked up she refused to eat...It was no fun for any of us so one night we just decided to let her sit in a seat at the table.  No booster, no lap, just a chair at the table.  Meal times, while not perfect, are much better.  Sure it's messier and she sometimes runs off, but for the most part she's taken to the 'Big Girl Seat' with relative ease.

2.  We threw our first birthday party.  Our little girl loves animals, so we decided early on that her 2nd birthday would be at a local zoo.  This zoo is on the grounds of a county park so we were able to rent a pavilion and invite all of her closest friends (5 kids) and family.  We had beautiful weather and she quickly wore herself out looking for her favorite animals and running around the playgrounds.  As a parent it was exhausting...But it was great to see her having a good time.  Her 1st birthday was a low key event, just pizza and cake and family.  This was definitely a step up and we all came out of it unscathed.

3.  The week before the party I ran in the Broad St. Run in Philadelphia.  This 10 mile race takes your right through the city of brotherly love.  It was my second time running the race.  Last year I finished in just under 2 hours.  This year I trained much harder, lost some weight, and finished in 1 hr 22 minutes.  It was quite an accomplishment for me.  It was hard to find the motivation to keep training, but I forced myself to stay active because I know exercise will help keep me healthy.

Up until recently I did not live a healthy lifestyle.  I ate too much and was very inactive.  But since becoming a father I am trying to change that.  It's a daily challenge but the race really motivated me to keep up the hard work. 

4.  During the race training period, I was also participating in a 'Biggest Loser' contest at work.  I was able to turn the training into weight loss and since March 14, 2011 I've run almost 270 miles and I've lost 28lbs.  This week I turned 32 and I am in better shape now than when I was 22.  I want my daughter to grow up with a healthy dad.  I want to lead by example and I want to be able to keep up with her and stand by her through all of her adventures.

We've been busy the last couple of months and I haven't given the blog the time it deserves.  The time I'm not spending here I am spending with my two favorite people, my wife and daughter...I can't wait to see how the next two months turn out.  Hopefully, I'll be posting again soon!

Easy Canvas Prints- a new way to display your favorite photos.

Canvas Pictures

 A couple of years ago, when my wife was pregnant we decided to take a vacation to southwest Florida.  During the week, we decided to visit the Downtown Naples New Year's Weekend Art Fair.  The city of Naples closes their main drag and invites artists from all over the country to sell their creations.

On this trip we found a photographer who had printed his photos on canvas in a variety of sizes.  I thought it was a unique way to display photos, and I asked him if he did custom work for people wanting to print their own family photos on canvas.  He told me it was too cost prohibitive for him to do it so he generally focused on his own work.

Well, a week or so ago, I was contacted by a representative of Easy Canvas Prints.  She wanted me to give the process a try and write about it here.  The site allows you to upload your favorite images and have them stretched on canvas.  The process is easy, just upload your favorite picture, decide how you want to handle the photos edges, and submit.

I've been asked to review a few products on the blog.  I gladly accept most offers, but I will not post negative reviews because it doesn't serve any useful purpose.  It's a waste of time to put negative energy into a blog post.  For that reason I am glad to say I enjoyed my chance to review the Easy Canvas Prints process.  I now have a great picture of my daughter hanging over my desk at work.

Just click the link below and give it a try for yourself.

Easy Canvas Prints

Friday, April 1, 2011

104.5 or Oh it's just a virus.

So when you wake up on a quiet Saturday morning to find your daughter has a fever of 104.5 you have a couple of options:

1. Panic.
2. Call the Doctor.
3. Panic.

For the first hour we did 2 of those three options.  Our little girl is our first child and she's not quite 2 so we still don't really know what we're doing.  Panic seemed the best option at the time.  The last time she had a fever get up over 103 it was because of an ear infection and this time since she was already being treated for another ear infection, we knew something else must be going on.

What started as a very long day turned into a very long weekend and early part of the week.  Each morning we'd get up, sure the fever would have dissipated, and each morning we'd find that boiling heat coming off our little girl's body.  It was exhausting for all of us.  We spent all each day trying to get her to eat and drink, making sure to give her the proper dose of ibuprofen so she could fight the fever in moments of comfort.

Monday finally roles around and having not slept for two days I had to drag myself into work wondering whether this thing would ever clear.  The doctor told us to come in on Tuesday morning.  She'd woken up Tuesday with a fever of 103 degrees so I opted to take her in.  The from the doctor's office we were sent to the hospital for blood tests and a chest x-ray....Which is damn near impossible with a 2 yr old.

At the hospital, we had yogurt thrown all over the place, a very messy diaper change in a bathroom with no changing table, needles (I hate needles), blood, and radiation...All the while my daughter just kept asking for mommy and if she could go home.

This is not my child just an example of the device.
Let me tell you this, the joker who invented the contraption to secure toddlers in place for such x-rays should be forced to sit in one himself/herself.  It's a torture device.  My daughter was horrified by the clear plastic vise grip body holder and I was horrified that such a device even exists.

Anyway at the end of a very long day we learned one thing: the fever was done, it went away as quietly as it arrived and I had to put my daughter through the ringer for nothing.  We got home from the doctor's and both collapsed in exhaustion and relief...She slept for 3 hours and I just stared at the ceiling wondering what just happened in the last 5 days.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I just spent what?!? on sneakers...

My new shoes...It's the Brooks Ghost 3
For the longest time I've avoided admitting it.  I was just doing it to feel better...I wouldn't do it forever, I like the way it makes me feel, plus it was mostly free.  That is until now.  The other day I spent more on a pair of good running shoes than I ever have on a single pair of footwear...In fact it may have been more than I have ever spent on 2 pairs of footwear.  This might be getting out of hand.

In late 2004, my wife and I started jogging around the neighborhood in an effort to improve our health.  It wasn't much, but since then I've been running more...Much more...Almost daily even.  In 7 years, I would never have called myself a runner in any way.  My friends can attest that my mantra has always been "There is no reason to run, unless someone is chasing you."

In fairness, this purchase did not come lightly I had worn out my 3rd pair of shoes since last June and each consecutive saunter was met with pain and struggle.  If I was going to take this running thing seriously I would have to make a commitment and get properly fitted by people who know what their doing.  So I went down to the local running store and sat down with a very helpful store associate.  She watched me walk, looked at my feet, and asked about my running experience.  Fully loaded with this knowledge she went off to find me the perfect shoe.

I tried on 3 or 4 pairs and liked most of them, but when confronted by the actual price I had a bit of sticker panic and left without a single pair.  It took a couple days but I realized that this was an investment and if I intended to ever run pain free again I needed to bite the bullet.

However, I do have a little extra motivation this time around that helped make the final decision. At work, we've started another round of "The Biggest Loser".  My weight has started to creep up again and I joined the competition to get myself back on the wagon.  In order to catch that wagon I needed a new pair of shoes.

On top of all that, I'm in training for the "Broad Street Run" in Philadelphia in May.  It's a 10 mile race through center city Philadelphia.  Make no mistake, the only person I will be racing will be myself.  I ran it last year, but was not pleased with my finishing time.  I've decided that if I am pleased with my time this year then I will try to run a half-marathon in the fall...Until 2004, I had never run more than a single mile at once, in my life...And now, despite owning more efficient means of transport, I am wracking up miles on the ground.

This doesn't have much directly related to my life as a father, but in the end it may help make my life as a father last a little longer...And if nothing else, my improved fitness will help me keep up with my daughter in the coming years.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Growing up Geek...

That's not a typo, I am a geek.  As my little girl gets older I find myself getting more and more excited about sharing some of the favorite geek things I enjoy and have enjoyed throughout my life.

Thanks to entertaining references and callbacks to some of my favorite geek things in podcasts like The Nerdist and shows like Psych, Community, and the BBC's The IT Crowd I have realized it's OK to let it all out once in a while.

Now, I am a parent, a geek parent, and I feel it is important to expose my child to all those shows/movies/things I found fascinating and nerdy growing up....Here are a few of my favorite things that I cannot wait to share with my daughter:

  1. The Karate Kid & Back to the Future::: 80s movies at their very best...Now that Ralph Macchio is going to be on Dancing With the Stars I might actually watch the show a little this season.  The Karate Kid always insights fond memories of childhood.    My daughter will also learn the ways of Mr. Miyagi and Dr. Emmett Brown..And then there's this for Karate Kid fans everywhere...

  2. 8-Bit video games:::Thank you NES for hours of hours of easily attainable fun while I was growing up.  I didn't need to memorize complicated spin moves using 12 different buttons, I couldn't realistic blood splatter with every shot, my conquered enemies blinked a few times and just disappeared, and there were never complex movie sequences to disrupt my turtle shell crushing exploits...Long live Super Mario Brothers...For 8-bit fans check this out.

  3. The Goonies & The Princess Bride:::I can recite each of these movies from beginning to end, and you can be sure that if I ever find a treasure map in my best friend's attic or my wife is attacked by an opportunistic R.O.U.S I will be ready.

  4. Dr. Who:::When I was a kid I stayed up way too late on Saturday nights to watch the low-fi adventures of this wily Time Lord.  It wasn't until earlier this year that I decided to sit down and watch the reboot of one of my favorite childhood shows.  Let me tell you, my favorite Time Lord is back and better than ever.  I've spent most of my revisiting with the latest Dr. incarnation Matt Smith, but I've found and enjoyed episode with other more recent Doctors played by Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.  Easily one of the best shows on television and great for any child's imagination.

  5. Steve Martin:::There are comics and there are geniuses, Mr. Martin is both.  He is a writer, actor, comedian, musician.  I discovered him on Saturday Night Live, and didn't realize (until much later) the full scope of his genius.  Comedy is difficult and there are few people that can perfect it across mediums as Steve Martin has done...

  6. Stephen King & J.K. Rowling:::I could have easily just said Books here, but not all books are great...I enjoy books that offer adventure, epic journeys, and great characters.  It may seem odd that I've placed these particular authors on the same line, but King (The Dark Tower) and Rowling (Harry Potter) have a unique ability to tell a harrowing story that allows the reader to become completely immersed in the tale.  I hope my daughter loves to read and discovers it much sooner than I did.  I am continually excited that she loves books now, but I look forward to experiencing those true written adventures with her as she gets older.
I could go on and on, but I have to approach this delicately so she doesn't realize right away that her father is a geek...I mean over time she'll pick it up and let me know I'm sure, but there is no need to spoon feed her the ammo to use later.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Toddler as a Second Language

Stop and smell the flowers.
In high school I was forced to take a foreign language. You know, the obligatory 2 years of gibberish to fulfill an arbitrary number of credits in order to graduate. In those two years, I did not retained much, and my only fond memories are of the 'International Food Day' we had at the end of the year. We got to gorge ourselves on homemade crepes, tacos, bratwurst and other food from the typical high school language offerings.

Despite my complete lack of mastery of a foreign language it seems that somewhere deep inside I have have the capacity for learning new an interesting forms of communication after all. I can honestly and confidently say that I am almost fluent one of the most complex and interesting languages in our society: Toddler Talk.

Every word out of my daughter's mouth needs some level of translation. It is very important for all involved parties to be quick in that translation as any delay could set off a incident on level of the Bay of Pigs.

Sure, everyone can understand the easy ones like 'No' & 'Mine', but when the conversation gets deeper you have to be quick on your feet. An entire meal can be won or lost based on whether you think she saying she wants to eat the pancakes you made her, she wants you to eat the pancakes you made her, or she doesn't want pancakes at all...If I guess wrong those pancakes are going to be all over the floor, my lap, and (thanks to the consistency of syrup) the wall. Whenever you approach Toddler-Speak your confidence should be extremely high, or you'll end up doing a lot of unnecessary cleaning and head scratching.

Look it's not easy for anyone to learn a new language, and as far as I know Rosetta Stone has yet to offer a Toddler Curriculum in their best selling language software. But practice makes perfect and the more my wife, mother-in-law, or some other innocent bystander asks "What'd she say?" The more confident I become in my response...

There were, of course,some sketchy days in the beginning like when she first saw that Peacock at the zoo. Her Toddler-Speak version of 'Peacock' left out the very important beginning of the word. People would look at her with that 'did she just say that' look that people get and then they'd look at me quizzically hoping that I'd have a reasonable explanation.

Fortunately, with my extensive practice I can easily put most people at ease. However, my powers of translation seem to only work for a very specific dialect known only to my daughter. When at the home of other friends with toddlers I'm often as lost as the rest of the world in translating. They say that English is one of the most difficult languages to master, but I disagree. I believe the most difficult language is Toddler.