January 18, 2007

A Dad’s Tool Kit

As my children progress into toddlerhood, I have found that there are certain items that are indispensable when it comes to performing my fatherly duties. While a mom’s list might include hand sanitizer or lavender lotion, this is something that most men can relate to. While not a complete list, these have been in my top-ten for the past few months and I thought it might be useful for all you new fathers out there…

Top 10 Tools For a New Dad

1) Protective cup. For some unknown reason, toddlers like to kick their legs furiously when you least expect it. Picking up a child for a hug, for example, can lead to swift kicks that inevitably land in the one area that a man would not want a swift kick. Now, wearing a protective cup might make you walk a little funny but it sure beats vomiting on the floor while your kids laugh their tails off.

2) Snacks. Kids get hungry when you least expect it. For some odd reason, just because they’re growing an inch a day they think they should get food whenever they’re hungry. Adding to this dilemna is that they are not so well equipped to tell you, “Why Daddy, I’m quite hungry right now. Could you please give me something to eat?” Instead, your precious child goes from zero to eruption in no time. Having some Cheerios or Kix cereal for such an occasion will go a long way.

3) Tissue. Your toddler will spew some of the most vile fluids you have ever seen. These fluids will ooze from your child’s nose in such copious amounts that you might think she was an extra in the movie Ghostbusters. Having tissue on hand will save you from having to use your own shirt for a quick cleanup. Besides, you’ve seen that kid at the playground who uses the back of his hand to wipe snot and dirt all over his face. Do you want that to be your child? The mothers will look at you and snicker because they expect that from a Dad.

4) Parlor Tricks. Every Dad needs to know a trick or two to keep the kids entertained. I can cross my eyes and then have one eye dance to the left or the right – which mesmorizes the kids just long enough for them to forget why they were about to go ballistic (in my case it’s almost certainly one taking a toy from the other). I can also make a loud hiccup-type sound that cracks the kids up every time. (Note: Your wife might not appreciate your tricks as much as you or the kids do. Proceed at your own risk.)

5) Batteries. Sizes AA, AAA, D, C, and 9-volt. Someday I’m going to run for President and my platform will be that I’ll introduce legislation that will make it mandatory for all toy makers to use the same size battery. Until then we all have to be well-stocked with every size battery imaginable. Few things are worse than having a favorite electronic toy stop working right as you’re about to watch the Chargers win lose a big game and not have any batteries in the house.

6) A small phillips screw driver. Along the same lines as #5, all toys have battery compartments with tiny little screws that must have been designed by Santa’s elves. Most of us manly-men (*snicker*) don’t have a screw driver that small because the size of our tools are important. But trust me on this, you need a small screw driver.

7) A non-operating “real” phone. Toddlers love telephones. I can’t explain it, it’s just true. Unfortunately, they also know when they’re being hosed when you try giving them a toy phone to play with. What we have done is taken an old cordless phone that we no longer use (and is no longer plugged into a phone line) and keep it charged right next to our real phone. Now, when one of our toddlers wants to use the phone we take the old phone, push a couple of buttons to show them it’s “real” and they’re good to go.
8) A Kid-safe drawer. First, you don’t let your wife do all the cooking, do you? Real men know how to cook. Sure it can be a meatball sandwich or a hearty plate of nachos, but you should be able to handle kitchen duties when called upon. When I’m in the kitchen, our kids love to run around. Inevitably they want to open up the cabinets and rummage around inside. Instead of banning them from the kitchen, we have designated a drawer as “their” drawer. In it are all of our knives, skewers and fine china tupperware containers and lids. We direct them to that drawer when they get curious and they have a great time re-arranging all of my perfectly stacked tupperware containers.

9) Funny voices. Every dad needs a signature funny voice that you can unleash at times when there is a need for a major distraction. My voice is a cross between Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear. Funny voices work best when accompanied by funny faces. Protruding tongue and googly eyes are always a hit. (Note: Wife will definitely not respond to this voice in the same way as your kids – especially in the bedroom.)

10) Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Preferably with ample amounts of chocolate. (This is not for your kids, it’s for your wife when she’s had enough dealing with you the kids life. Possibly the most important item in your tool kit.)

Now this list is just a sampling of all the tools available to a dad. It’s a treacherous path, this fatherhood thing, and we could use all the tools we can get. So, Dads (and Moms!) what tools do you have in your tool kit?

February 9, 2006

The (De) Evolution of a Parent

After months of research, both scientific and anecdotal, I have come across a distinct pattern in parents – if not worldwide, at least in North America. For some reason, I couldn’t find a scientific journal that was willing to accept this finding (something about my methodology being fundamentally flawed). So, I have decided to launch my findings on Childsplayx2.com.

Keeping our Children Safe From Bacteria and Disease – The Real Story

Phase I – Parents sanitize everything. Bottles, binkies, nipples – you name it, it’s either boiled, microwaved or sanitized in the dishwasher. Sometimes with unintended results.

Phase II - Sanitizing becomes a little lax. The little steamer bag that comes with Medela products still has a few good uses left in it but it sits on the counter in the kitchen, taunting you every time you pass by, leaving you as guilt-ridden as a Mexican mother. In an effort to keep up the pretense of sanitizing, anti-bacterial wipes make an appearance around the house. One parent uses them religiously, the other, well, not so much.

Phase III – Bottles are only washed in warm soapy water. Binkies never get washed except when they fall in the bathtub by accident. Every once in a while a parent will say, “Hey, we should really sanitize all the baby stuff.” The other nods and then they go back to watching American Idol.

Phase IV – Binkies fall on the floor and the parent will pick it up, put it in his/her own mouth to “get rid of the germs” and then hand it back to the kid. The kid doesn’t die. Hmmmmm. Interesting.

Phase V – The first utterance of the phrase “Five-Second Rule!” appears. Perhaps a quick wipe on the pants will suffice before popping the binky back in the kid’s mouth.

Phase VI – Parents watch as kid picks up binky or any other thing that looks like it might look good in it’s mouth like cat food, days-old cheerios, and daddy’s sweat socks. The parents might say something like, “Sweetie, don’t put that in your mouth.” while they casually glance up from the morning paper – but more often than not, they just *sigh*.

Phase VII – Parents actually start giving their kids disgusting things to put in their mouths – like fruit gushers and Trix Yogurt.

After that, it’s all down hill. French fries become the only vegetable the kids eat. A Big Mac is the closest a kid comes to the four basic food groups. And our children die a slow, albeit delicious, death.

But, hey, at least we sanitized those binkies.

January 17, 2006

Chef Baby-Ar-Dee

Now that we’re starting solids we have decided that while the pre-made baby food is just fine, it would be fun (and less expensive) if we made our own. So, I have been slaving away in the kitchen the past few nights perfecting my recipes, knowing I have to appeal to the most discriminating of palates – TheMonk and Bri’s.

I am proud to say that my hard work has paid off. I have created some absolute masterpieces (if I do say so myself). I am also keenly aware that some of you out there may not be as skillful in the kitchen as I am. Nor would you have the time or energy to concoct the perfect recipes based on trial and error. So, my friends, fear not. I am only too glad to share with you these recipes. It gives me great pleasure to know that these recipes will be passed down to future generations and provide nourishment for children for years to come. So, without further ado, here are my recipes. You might want to get a pen and paper or get your printer ready.

1) Take very ripe bananas
2) Put in blender
3) Puree


1) Slice peaches and throw away the pit.
2) Steam peaches
3) Put in blender
4) Puree

1) Slice pears and throw away the core
2) Steam pears
3) Put in blender
4) Puree

1) Slice squash after throwing out seeds
2) Steam squash
3) Remove outer rind
4) Put the rest in blender
5) Puree

Pour each puree into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Put them in ziploc freezer bags and label and date them. This is crucial as it all looks pretty similar when they pop out of the trays.

I know what you’re thinking. You are in awe of my culinary skills. Don’t be intimidated by my vast knowledge of baby food. Instead, take advantage of all that I am passing along. In fact, feel free to spread these recipes far and wide. This is my gift to the human race.

You’re welcome.

October 4, 2005

Parenting Tip

If you leave for work with drool stains on your shoulder thinking, “Oh, no one will notice.”

They will.

(Interestingly enough, if you leave for work with coffee stains on your shirt, people think you’re a slob. But if you leave for work with baby drool stains on your shirt, people think it’s cute.)

September 15, 2005

My Parenting Secret? My wife.

Since I have started to tell people that the twins are sleeping through the night, it has become apparent that this is an unusual thing. Apparently many people’s babies do not sleep through the night at 3 months of age. So, people have been asking me how we did it.

What’s our secret? First, I would never call myself an expert in anything but the art of the afternoon nap on a football Sunday. And, if truth be told, if I had been the only parent dealing with this issue, it’s very doubtful that both babies would be sleeping through the night right now. It was only after reaching a very high frustration level with Jonathan that Andrea did some research and we tried implementing a few things. So, for those of you dying to know how we managed to get two babies to sleep through the night, here it goes…

1) Luck. Swee’Pea is just one of those babies. She has been so easy to take care of it’s not even fair. She is the type that if she were my only child and I were in a parent group and started in on how Swee’Pea hardly ever cried, smiled all the time and slept through the night, parents would be either thinking “yeah, right” or “Bastard.” Well, it’s true. She really is that easy. Swee’Pea just one day missed a late night feeding. We decided to let her sleep. Then she missed the middle of the night feeding and we decided to let her sleep. Before we knew it, she was sleeping through the night. It should be noted that I was freaking out that we were starving her. I wanted to wake her up (after all, she is the smaller of the two) to feed her. Finally, Andrea and I agreed that if she was hungry, she’d tell us. So we let her sleep.

2) Swee’Pea gave us confidence that it could be done. Swee’Pea started sleeping through the night at about 11 weeks and I soon started having serious conversations with TheMonk about him possibly following his sister’s lead. He was still waking up at 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. for his feedings. Somewhere along the way, Andrea did some research that said, “Yes, babies can sleep through the night at this age.” The research also told us that we needed to feed them between 28 and 32 ounces of milk/formula a day (calming my “we’re starving them” fears). So, if Jonathan was getting his allotted amount during the day, there was no reason to think we couldn’t wean him off the night feedings.

3) Cluster feedings. We had been feeding them every three hours when they were getting their night time feedings. Since they would be missing a couple of feedings at night, we started feeding them every two hours or so during the day – especially as we neared bed time. The last feeding we gave them each five ounces which is currently the most they get at any one time. Swee’Pea had no problem with this change. And even Jonathan started sleeping through the 11:00 p.m. feeding.

4) Eliminate bad habits. Now, TheMonk was my Everest. I had to conquer this 3:00 a.m. waking. I had fallen into some bad habits when dealing with my crying screaming infant at 3:00 a.m. First, I would feed him. This seemed to appease him. Second, I would lie him face down on my belly and we’d fall asleep on the couch together. The problem was TheMonk was getting used to eating and falling asleep on Daddy. So, over a period of 3 very difficult nights, I would pick him up, comfort him and then put him back down to bed. I did this over and over again (one night it took me over 45 minutes) until he went back to sleep. In desperation, I also found that this was one of the few times he’d take the pacifier and it seemed to help.

5) Identify other reasons. While now he was going back to sleep easier, he was still waking up nightly which didn’t help me out in the sleep department since I still had to put him back down. During this time I had noticed that he sounded very congested when he woke up at 3:00 a.m. We get a very dense fog that rolls in early morning and it appears his little nose was not handling the change in humidity well. A friend of mine told me about Vicks Baby Rub and that it helped her infant sleep. So, off I went to the drug store. Once I was there I figured if this Rub was good, more menthol should be better. I bought a menthol plug-in that permeates the room with menthol. I also bought saline drops and medicated nose drops for baby. The first night we used the plug-in and the rub on TheMonk’s chest. When I walked in the next morning, it made my eyes water. So we got rid of the plug-in. But the Baby Rub worked! So, every night we rub a little dab on TheMonk’s chest and put him to bed. He breathes well enough to sleep through the night.

And that is how we did it. The only idea in this whole thing that wasn’t Andrea’s was the Baby Rub. She worked 8 strong innings to get the win. I just came on in the ninth inning to close out the game.

EDITORS NOTE: I forgot the first step! The bed-time ritual. Every night we change them into pj’s, feed them at about the same time and then we turn down the lights while listening to soft lullabies. Very soothing sleep environment!

September 13, 2005

Parenting Tip #2

If you’re in a fantasy football league and your opponent has Michael Vick on his team, and it’s a Monday night game and the babies are just getting ready to go to bed, don’t yell “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” when Vick pulls his Houdini magic to score a touchdown.

Why not, you ask? Well, because last night Daddy got excited and in the process scared two little babies resting in their bouncy seats. Lots of crying ensued and Daddy had to promise Mommy that he wouldn’t get so excited when watching football.

(Uh, yeah, I’m not sure if that’s gonna be able to happen) :)

August 30, 2005

Parenting Tip

If your daughter is enjoying herself in her crib in the early morning, cooing and talking quietly to herself, it’s probably not a good idea to pop your head up over the top of the crib and say in a loud, cheerful voice “GOOD MORNING!”

I scared the living crap (literally, it seems) out of Swee’Pea doing this.

Sorry, Sweetie. It won’t happen again.


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: