Monday, January 31, 2011

Books that Meet the Little man's Approval

As is the case with movies, there are certain books that my little man just adores.  We sit and read and reread these books multiple times daily.  Personally, I don't understand the appeal of them, but I am not the one who matters here.  I am just glad that he is enjoying reading them with me even if that means I have to read the same story one hundred times a day.  I'll do it.  But, there is a bright side to his love of books.  He will sit and listen to just about any stories, which means I can read to him from a book that I actually like too occasionally.  

You wouldn't believe how many of these children's books nowadays are just gibberish and words on a page.  Luckily, he isn't too thrilled with many of these non-story books, but,     unfortunately, I end up having to read some stories like these to him too because he likes the pictures.  Oh the woes of fatherhood!  

I am just kidding so please no e-mails about what a terrible person I am.  I love to read to my son and spend time with him.  That is the whole point of my blog, and the point of this specific posting is to point out a few of his favorite kiddy books that your kiddo might like too.

It was hard to narrow these down, but here are his top ten favorites.

1.) Knuffle Bunny a Cautionary Tale written and illustrated by Mo Willems

This is my son's most absolute favorite book to read with me ever!  The illustrations in it are quite fascinating and it actually has a cute little story to go with them.  I'll try not to destroy the ending for you in my brief description. I know that I hate it when people do that to me.  It kind of takes all the suspense and fun out of reading the thing in the first place.

Anyway, Knuffle Bunny is about a little girl and her favorite stuffed animal.  They go  out on a laundry washing adventure with the little girl's daddy, but, unfortunately, lose her favorite stuffed friend.  The rest of the book is a detailed description of what the girl and her family went through to find the stuffed animal again.

I am quite glad that this is my baby's favorite book in the whole world because, believe it or not, I kind of like it too.  It is on of the few books that he has that I don't mind reading over and over again like a broken record.  Like I said, the story is cute and the pictures are pretty neat too.  If my wife and I have thanked my son's favorite auntie and uncle already, we haven't thanked them enough for giving him this nice little story as a gift.

2.) I Udderly Love You! written by Kate Toms (I do not know who illustrated it)  

I would like to say that it was hard to decide which book the little man liked more, I Udderly Love You! or Knuffle Bunny, but that would really be a lie.  However, that doesn't mean that my son doesn't love this book too.

I Udderly Love You! is a story about a mother love for her child.  It is quite cute and touchy feelie with appealing illustrations.  It is another book that my son can sit read with either my wife or myself for hours and hours.  Therefore, it gets my baby's stamped seal of approval.  It also happens to be one of my wifes favorites too, so I'll throw her seal of approval in too.

3.) If You Give a Cat a Cupcake written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond

It took some major consideration as to whether the little man ranked this as his second or third all time favorite book, but in the end we decided it was definitely third on his list.  The deciding factor was the fact the he didn't run around with it all over the house, that and my wife likes I Udderly Love You! more.  So, the decision was made.

Of all my son's books, this is perhaps my favorite to read to him.  I really like the Illustrations and it is really fun to act out the story line with him as we read it together.  This book is about a quirky cat and all the mayhem a single cupcake can create in a day.  It's a fun read that is even more fun to re-enact with your little one as you read it together.  

4.) Freight Train written by Donald Crews

This is a colorful book that uses the primary colors to distinguish different train cars connected to a freight train.  This is one of the little man's favorite potty time books.  He will just sit and stare at all the colorful pictures, turning back and forth between the pages for quite some time until his attention is drawn to something else, which may not happen if I don't initiate it.

5.) My Big Book of Baby Animals (Unfortunately, I am not sure who wrote this book, and there are multiple photographic contributors)

This is perhaps the perfect book for a toddler who loves animals.  There are probably one hundred different photographs in this book all showing different baby animals.  With each photograph there is even a brief caption that gives information about the animal it portrays.  It is an interesting book, and I think I like it maybe a little more than the little man, but I know he likes it a lot too.

6.) The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

We received this book as a gift from the hospital where my son was born, and he absolutely loved it for several months.  It was the perfect size from him to chew on and hold on to. He still really enjoys it, but for different reasons.  Frequently, he will bring to me so we can read it together and then he will flip through it and look at all the beautiful illustrations.

It is a book that describes a caterpillars journey into becoming a beautiful butterfly.  It has a cute little story that provides some information as well.

7.)  Miss Spider's ABC by David Kirk

This is an ABC book that is very colorful and cute.  Each letter is a different insect that is preparing for Miss Spider's birthday party.

My son will just sit and flip through the pages of this book and marvel at all the colorful illustrations.  At this point he doesn't seem too interested in the story because he doesn't like it read to him too often.  He really prefers to control the book himself and look at the pictures at his leisure.  It is a captivating book for him.

This is another animal/word book.  The little dobber loves to look through it as I point out the different animals in it and the sounds that they make.  He is quite fond of the fowls, of which I believe the duck is his favorite.

This book has large thick cardboard pages that are easy for little finger to grab hold of and turn on their own. It is a really good choice for the animal loving toddler in your family.

9.) Where is Baby's Mommy by Karen Katz

What infant book collection would be complete with out the occasional flip up book.  This is exactly what this book is.  It is a colorful flip up book that my boy loves to sit and look at and occasionally tear up.  The only problem that he has with this book is when I don't turn the pages fast enough for him.  I never realized that books could be so exciting!

10.) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

This is one of my all time favorite children's book.  I absolutely love the illustrations and the story is nice too.  It's about a mischievous character named Max who gets into trouble with his momma and gets sent to bed with out supper.

I know that my son does not love this book as much as I do, but that doesn't matter because I know that he still likes it even if it is not his favorite book and that is enough for me.  The little man will still sit and listen to it and ask to hear it again, which is why it is on his top ten list.  I firmly believe that this one of those  must have books for anyone that has a little one of their own.  It even has the line, "Oh please don't go-we'll eat you up-we love you so!"  How can you go wrong?

P.s. You can find all these books on  Also I apologize for the links not working properly.  I wanted them to take you the the page where you can purchase them.  I am going to try and fix them, but if you cannot wait until I figure out how I messed it up you can just do a search for them at

Friday, January 28, 2011

Movies that meet The Little Man's Approval

Before the little man was born my wife and I enjoyed our movie night, but now that we have baby boy with us it is getting difficult to find child appropriate movies that we enjoy and he enjoys too.  Sure he’ll watch just about anything with us on family movie night, but there are only a few movies that he really enjoys.  Yes he enjoys watching the Shrek movies, the Dr. Doolittle movies, and the other popular movies tailored for kiddo’s, but he holds a special place in his heart for only a select few.  Here is a list of the top ten of his favorites.  If you haven't watched them with your kiddos you might want to try them out.  Well, at least they didn't drive me bonkers the first time I watched any of them.  No, that didn't happen until we watched the same movie 20 times or so.

Anyway, here they are:

1.) Babies: Directed by Thomas Balmes, rated PG, and it came out in 2010.

This movie is like crack to my baby.  He just can't get enough of it.  It is a documentary style film that shows the first year of life from four different babies around the world.  It is kind of cool to see how people from different cultures interact with their infants and how similar we all are.

2.)  Thomas’ and Friends: Songs from the Station (Thomas the Tank Engine): Directed by David Mitton, Unrated and it came out in 2005.

This is another film that is like crack to the little man.  I am especially glad to have it in our repertoire because it is only 40 minutes long or so.  As far as I am concerned it is one of the wonders of this world because somehow this manages to stop the little tantrums that are now developing to appear and watching this can instantly quiet the little tyke down and make him sit still.  It is another movie that is exactly as it sounds.  it's songs from various Thomas the Tank Engine episodes.  Since the little man loves music we watch this at least once a day to quiet down for nap time. 

3.)  Pingu: I don't know who directed these or what they are rated, but I know they came out in 2004.

The Pingu stuff is all claymation and pretty cute.  It is basically a little penguin that does all this crazy stuff.  I am not sure how to describe it other than it is foreign and claymation.  The little man has enjoyed Pingu since he came home from the hospital and hasn't grown tired of it since.  My wife and I like it because it isn't always all fluffy and sweet and it is easy to understand even if you don't know whatever language is being spoken.  I think it may be gibberish, but every once in a while I can pick out a few words in there, so I am not sure about my original assessment.

4.)  Ponyo: Directed by Hayao Miyazaki rated G, and released in 2008.

The little man loves this flick because it is typical anime.  It is very colorful and flashy.  My wife enjoys it because it is a cute story about a kid and his goldfish who wants to become human I guess.  Truthfully, I am not much of an anime fan, but I know that the boy likes this one a lot, so maybe your kids will too.  I just don't like shrieking kids that all anime seems to thrive on.

5.) Fantasia: This has multiple Directors, rated G, and was released in 1940.

This is one of the must haves if your kid is like mine.  He loves the music and the cartoon characters dancing around to it.  We rented it from Netflix and I am not sure how many times we watched it before sending it back.  Now, I am desperately searching for it to own it.  For some reason the new Fantasia just doesn't cut it with the little man.  

6.) Open Season 2: directed by Matthew O'Callaghan and Todd Wilderman, rated PG, and released in 2008.

This is a goofy animated movie that we found terribly clever and funny.  We really enjoyed watching this with the little man.  Truthfully, I would enjoy this even if I didn't have a kid.  It is about wild animals trying to rescue one of their buddies, who is a runaway house pet, from a life of pampered domesticity after his former owners found him.  It is pretty hilarious.  We especially like Roger the cat.

7.) Bee Movie: Directed by Steve Hicknor and Simon J. Smith, Rated PG, and was released in 2007.

Another goofy animated film that the little man cannot get enough of.  It's about a bee who isn't satisfied with his life.  He discovers that humans have been stealing bee's honey for years and decides to get it back.  This is another kids flick that I don't mind watching when the little man is sleeping.  It's a movie that is geared for the whole family, so there is humor that might not be appreciated by the kiddo's but the adults will find amusing.

8.) Moonlight Serenade: Directed by Giancarlo Tallarico, rateg PG-13, and released in 2006.

This is a movie that we happened to stumble across and found out the the little dobber really enjoyed it.  It is a fluffy romantic musical about an aspiring jazz singer.  The plot is kind of weak, but that doesn't bother my 11 month old.  He's in it for the music.  

9.) The Adventures of Milo and Otis: Directed by Masanori Hata, rated G, and released in 1989.

My little man loves dogs and cats, which is why he will sit through this slow moving film.  It is all about a little dog and his kitty cat friend who separate from each other and then find their way back to each other's furry little arms.  Honestly, I enjoyed it the first time I watched it, but I am simple.  It kind of grew out of favor for the little man, but he will still sit and watch it for about a half hour, which must mean he still likes it because he is willing to stop moving for a little while to pay attention to it.  If you have a kid you understand that that is a major feat.

10.) Fly Away Home: Directed by Carroll Ballard, Rated PG, and released in 1996.

This movie is about a little girl's quest to get a flock of goslings to learn to migrate.  It is cute.  My wife and I enjoyed the story, and the little guy liked the honking geese.  What else could you want? 

Well, there are my little man's top ten favorite movies.  There are a few others that were close to making the list like Dot the Kangaroo, but he seemed to stop liking it recently.  If your kids have any movies that they really enjoy watching feel free to post it in a comment or e-mail them to me and I add them to my list of Little People approved movies.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What to do With that Old, Crappy Cell Phone

Yesterday I ended up purchasing a new cell phone because the old one was going through a midlife crisis or something.  It more or less decided that it didn’t want to work sometimes, but other times it was just fine.  Anyway, I replaced it with the Samsung Convoy, which is pretty cool, but this left me with the problem of deciding what to do with the old phone. 

You see, I hate to throw out the old phones because I always assume that the new phone is going to crap out on me.  I still have an ancient LG phone that was sent through the washer and fried.  I know I am never going to use it again.  All it is doing is taking up space, but I still hesitate to toss it out.  So now, I have two useless phones just lying around gathering dust.  Fortunately for me, my wife made an executive decision last night and did something I swore to myself that I would never do.  She gave our tiny tot the eldest cellphone to play with.  At first I was leery of doing so, but after a while I couldn’t see any harm in it and now I actually think it is a great idea.

Before my baby boy was even born I had a major problem with the thought of giving my baby an old dilapidated cellphone to play with.  I observed that a lot of parents were doing this and it seemed like their brats were just destroying any cellphone that they could get their hands on.  In my mind I thought, “Haha!  Serves you right for teaching your kids that Cellphones and remotes are toys.”  Now, after having a toddler of my own, I am more than just a little embarrassed to admit that I just didn’t understand then, and had no right to feel so self-important.  It just never occurred to me that these people were substituting something that was safe and alright to play with for something that wasn’t.  Brilliant!!!  How come I didn’t see that then?  Think of all the problems that would have avoided if I had.   I am such a dope!

If you have kids you know that if there is something inappropriate for them to play with they will find it.  To a toddler anything and everything is a toy and fair game. This includes anything that they can pick up, climb on, jump on, jump off, or anything that they could possibly hurt themselves with.   I don’t know about anyone else, but I have found no way to discourage this behavior short of locking up absolutely everything I don’t want the little man to play with, and locking him away from everything else that I can’t stow away from him.  I feel like I am a bad parent because I haven’t provided him with a padded cell for his own safety, but that is just not practical. It is way simpler to focus his attention on something that I actually want him to play with.

I used to leave my phone and television remote on the couch tucked back in the corner, naively thinking that the little man can’t reach them.  Well, after months of him finding a way to reach them and subsequently run off with them you would think that I would change my mindset.  Nope, you’re wrong.  Apparently, I am as stupid as I am stubborn.  I realize now that my cellphone didn't commit suicide my baby boy murdered it.  That little man just managed to get his grubby little hands on it too often.  

Well, if I had thought of giving him the ancient cell phone earlier I might have saved the not so old cell phone from certain death.   Now I see why so many other parents give their little owns old cell phones and remotes to play with.  They aren’t really teaching their kids that these items are toys.  These parents are saving themselves from the hassle of searching for or replacing the actual, working cell phone and remotes by providing their monsters with something else to play with that is more appropriate.  Man I wish I would have thought of this sooner.  My wife is a genius!       

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good Golly Miss Molly What the Crap is Going on Here?!

For those of you that know me, know that I tend to read parenting magazines and I always have the same gripe about all of them.  It just seems that the majority of them are all mom focused and dad is almost totally left out of the equation.  Well, I have found a few daddy mags.  Sure they are online magazines, but at least they are better for me than the mommy mags. Or aren’t they?

To tell you the truth I wasn’t impressed at all with these parenting as dads online publications.  They did nothing but reinforce old as dirt stereotypes and clich├ęs.   Honestly, after I read through a few of these articles I felt dirty and ashamed of my gender.  I mean there were articles that actually claimed that sitting in front of the television for a few hours was an excellent way to bond with your children after a long day at the office because, let’s face it, who really wants to interact with their kids now days? 

At first I assumed that the author of this crap was being sarcastic, so I kept reading.  I am not so sure now.  He kept saying things like going to the park is hassle because there are bound to be other screaming kids there and it is just a lot of effort that can be avoided by just watching T.V. together.  The whole article was like that.  I mean god forbid you do something with your children that they will enjoy and actually get something out of.  Yeah, going to the park with the little man irritates me because other kids are annoying, but I am not going there for my benefit.  We go because the little dobber likes it.  He really enjoys watching other kids play, and I firmly believe that he is learning from itJanu.  A little socialization outside of his normal circle is a good thing.     

So, after reading through that crappy article I e-mailed the author just to make sure he was joking around.  Maybe I need to work on my reading comprehension, but it honestly seemed like the guy was being completely serious.  I guess I will reserve my judgment on the guy until he gets back to me, but it has been two days.  I don’t think that it is likely to happen.

Anyway, so I read through a few articles of three or four publications and I automatically noticed something.  They were all pretty much the same.  I thought for sure I was rereading the same one over and over again because their articles all broke down into three categories, how to avoid spending time with your children, how to avoid paying child support, and how to find a good divorce lawyer.  Holy crow’s nest!  What is this all about?

Why in the world would anyone, man or woman, bring a child into this world if they wanted to avoid spending time with it?  It’s your kid darned it!  If you didn’t realize that it was going to take some effort to raise him or her than you should have waited until you either sobered up or moved out of your parents’ basement before you starting having sex with your partner or baby mama or whatever you call it.  I get it.  Kids are a hassle sometimes, but it isn’t their fault that you couldn’t figure out how a condom worked.

Speaking of condoms, I am reminded of another article I read that resembles another guy’s complaint about child support that aired on the Dr. Phil show, and the good doctor ripped this guy a new one.  Both of these guys complained about child support because they saw it as a punishment not as helping to support their children.  Apparently, they thought that since the kids lived with their mother that the mother should have to be stuck with the bill as well as raising them alone.  Talk about selfish.  You mean to tell me that these dead beats could begrudge their children a few dollars here and there in order to make sure that they are healthy, fed, warm, clothed, educated, clean, and happy.  Good golly miss molly that’s ridiculous!  Yeah, I am aware that child support is more than just a few dollars here and there, but no matter how much it costs you you’d probably be spending it if they lived with you anyway.  Living is expensive!   Maybe you weren’t ready when you started having sex to put someone else’s needs in front of your own, but you should have thought about it before the zipper hit the floor.   It doesn’t matter if the condom broke or if her birth control failed and you never wanted the child in the first place.  It’s too late now, and I sincerely hope that you never tell your child that you never wanted them.  It’s not their fault.  It was your actions that brought them into the world.  Now step up and make the most of it!  It’s the least you can do.  You owe them that much don’t you? 

I guess you don’t have to be a part of their lives or help them financially, but keep in mind that your kids will hate you forever if you aren’t and don’t.  You’ll probably not fare well in court either, so I bet you’ll want a good lawyer.  It seems that there are thousands who are dying to take you on so don’t worry.  You can be as choosy as you want to be.  Apparently, there are even websites that rate divorce lawyers and lawyers that deal specifically with child support.  Just google it.  I am sure you will find them. 

I am just dumbfounded because you know that if I have found three or four online magazines like that that there are more than just one or two guys that think like this.

 I finally come across some publications that are tailored to dads that are supposedly about parenting and that garbage is what I found.  These three or four publications are tons worse than any of the other magazines I have read thus far.  Yeah, I get annoyed that I continually find articles about makeup and tan lines with in the parenting magazines I get at home, but I would rather read 100 of those articles than read one about avoiding child support payments or how to avoid your kids while seeming like you are spending time with them.   Guys that write and find these articles useful can’t be dads.  They might be fathers biologically, but other than that they are useless. 

I guess there is some sense in the divorce lawyer articles because half of the marriages in this country end in divorce, but that doesn’t mean I have to like reading them.

I would never have thought I would say this, but, after seeing the alternative, I guess I would rather that the parenting magazines that are mommy centric would stay that way.  It saddens me deeply to say that.  There just has to be something better. 

Ps. I would like to apologize for all the crappy fathers out there.  Please believe me when I say we aren’t all like that.   


Monday, January 24, 2011

Television, Tidying, Terror, and the Dreaded "Pooh Choo Train."

I have heard from a lot of people that watching television with your kids is a great way to bond with them.  Personally, I think that is nonsense, but I’ll use anything as an excuse to lounge around and watch the boob tube with the little man all day.  I just wonder how that conversation will work with my wife.  “I am not being lazy and worthless by watching t.v. all day honey.  I am bonding with our son, and I happen to believe that that is important don’t you?” 

Yeah, I am sure that will work out. 

Then I’ll say something like, “It’s not like I am allowing the T.V. to raise him right?” 

No, it just seems like it.

It is bad enough that I hardly do any house work anymore because the little dobber is so mobile and irresistible I don’t need the television as an excuse too.  The majority of our time is spent playing until he eventually passes out from exhaustion.  Then I quick type up a few sentences and try to get the motivation to pick up after ourselves and get things ready for later on when he wakes up again.  Let’s face it.  Most of the time it doesn’t matter if I pick up anyway because as soon as the boy wakes up all hell breaks loose again, which is fine by me. 

I honestly don’t understand how other parents can keep their homes so clean and well kempt.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  Sure, I could probably do it too, but I’d have to be willing to give up some play time with the little man to do so, and that is unacceptable to me.  For now, I am perfectly happy rushing around trying to pick up and tidy the house while he is asleep during one of his naps.  But, all the while I am thinking, “Who cares if my house is messier than yours?  I don’t.  Besides, you can’t see it from your living room anyway.” 

Yes.  I have an eternally running dialogue in my head with people that may or may not ever visit.  After nine and a half years of living with my wife, she has me firmly convinced that there are going to be people stopping by, and if the house is a mess it will make us look bad or her rather.  That’s the only real reason I pick up any of the toys or books that are scattered throughout it.  It’s those golly darned theoretical visitors that may think poorly of us if they stop by!  Shame on them for causing me such strife! 

If it were up to me I would just say “Leave it be.  Eventually when the little man is older it will be better, until then let’s not worry about it.” 

Unfortunately, my wife seems to think differently.  What a drag!  I am just glad that her paranoia of these mystical creatures called visitors hasn’t totally infiltrated my mind because I am quite lazy and really prefer doing the bare minimum of maintenance and tidying.  So what if that means the house is messy?

Truthfully, if I wasn’t so terrified of my teeny tiny wife I wouldn’t even do that.  I only do the bare minimum to keep her from strangling me.  Honestly, if I did any less she would probably find a way to end me that would be impossible to prove as murder.   She’d probably make it look like I ran away, or she would find a way to convince the world that I had never existed.  Yes, she has that power!   You don’t understand the terror I live in every day never knowing if I am going to wake up dead in the morning. 

As if that were not bad enough, now she has the little man in on it too.  I swear if it isn’t my darling wife beating me up it’s the little man, and they both do it in such a way that the bruises aren’t visible.  I am lucky to be a live I tell you!  I made the mistake of falling asleep with him on the floor once and when I woke up all I could see was this multicolored Winnie the Pooh choo choo train rapidly approaching my face.  I just barely escaped it with my beautiful face intact.  I know my wife put him up to it.  I just don’t know how.

Ok, in reality I don’t fear my wife, and I do not think that she is evil.  However, I might be a little afraid of my son because he really did try to run over my head with his “Pooh Choo train” while I slept peacefully on the floor, but that would not be worst thing he has done to me out of evilness.  I would think him screaming in my face to wake me up was worse so far.  Fortunately, I am used it now.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t scare the crap out of me for an instant every time he does it though.  It just means I am getting used to it and am surprised when I wake up without hearing a terrific shout of “Hey DA!!!”

 I am sure that he’ll be up to worse things as he gets older, the little pisser.  I can’t wait.

Sidenote:  I am sure that once my wife catches wind of the “Pooh Choo” incident she’ll probably tell me it is my own fault for not keeping the living room tidier.  Well, nuts to that!  I would rather see him play with the metric ton of toys we have purchased for him than see them stacked neatly in a corner even if that means I am putting my life into mortal danger.  It’s worth it to me because I get to hear his evil giggle before, during, and after he tries to harm me.  Besides, he is just going to trash the place again anyway.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Only in America.....

Yay!  It snowed again.  No, I am not being sarcastic.  I truly don’t mind the snow at all. The only problem that I have with snow is that people have to drive in it, and for some reason that is very difficult for some of us.  I won’t lie I have done my fair share of driving poorly in the snow, but I would like to think that I have learned a little from each of those experiences.  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for one of my neighbors.

One of the things that my son and I like to do in the morning is look out at the traffic from the warmth and comfort of our living room window.  This morning we were lucky enough to see an accident at the stop sign.  It was our neighbor from the apartment building next door.  I have been saying to my son all year that one morning that guy was going to slide through the stop sign and get hit.  You see he is one of these drivers that doesn’t slow down for stops he just hits the brakes at the last moment and hopes for the best.  The little man and I have watched him slide out into the intersection numerous times, and each time he was lucky until today.  As usual, he hit the brakes too late to make a safe stop and he slid out into the road and got hit by a pickup truck.  Luckily, no one was injured, only angry.  What was strange was that the only person yelling and cursing was the guy who made the mistake and slid through the stop sign, which doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, as I am typing this, I am watching a police officer write a ticket, and I am trying to discover what exactly is wrong with people.  If you’re a doofus and slide through a stop sign and get hit, you really don’t have any right to get mad at the other driver who hit you.   If it is your fault, own up to it.  I have been telling my son and the children that I watch that everything that you do has a consequence.  If you leave a glass balanced precariously on the edge of the table, one of the consequences of doing that is that it might fall, especially if you are an active little kid who is uncoordinated and bumps into things a lot.   Whether the glass falls or not there really is no point in getting angry and emotional about it.  Should it fall just pick up the pieces and move on.  What else can you do?  You probably should have thought better of leaving it there in the first place.

Well, enough of that.  So, as I pondered about people in general and why they react the way they do I remembered talking to one of my foreign friends.  I was telling him about the time I was snow blowing my sidewalks and one of my neighbors “asked” me for help.  I have the word asked in quotation marks because the lady really didn’t ask.  She said I needed to.  Her words were something like, “Hey buddy you need to help me get my car out so I can go to work.”  My reply was, “I don’t need to do anything, but, sure, I’ll give you a hand.”  So, I went up the road a little way and was starting to cross the street to get to her driveway when she ran up to me again and said, “Buddy come on!  Can you hurry it up a little bit?!  I mean really!”  At this point I just turned around and went home.  I wanted to tell her that everything she does has a consequence, but I don’t think she would have gotten it.  Let her get herself out of her driveway.   It isn’t like I mind giving someone a hand when they need it, but that was ridiculous.  Since when did people start expecting and demanding help from others?    

After telling this story to my foreign friend he replied, “Only in America will people spit on you while asking for a favor!”  I have to say I don’t know if that is true because I have never lived in another country, but if he says it is I’ll believe him.  Americans must be the only people that will spit on you . asking for help, but that doesn’t mean we are all like that of course.  So, what do we do about the people that are like that?  There aren’t a lot of them it just feels like that because they are so easily remembered and noticed as vulgar, truly disgusting human beings.  Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do but avoid them and ignore them with the hopes that they will eventually die off.

This leads me to a dilemma though.  How am I going to teach my son that this mentality that Americans are supposedly famous for worldwide is not okay?  I really don’t know.  I guess it will kind of be like teaching him that he has to work for stuff because no one owes him anything, but a little different.   Maybe it is just a matter of teaching him the golden rule and making sure it hits home.  Maybe all I have to do is provide a decent role model for him to work off of.  I don’t know.  It seems like all parents would try to do the same, yet there are still people out there that act like this.  What’s the deal here?  Is it really a cultural thing?  No, I don’t really believe that. 

I think that so many people act like jerks because no one has ever told them that that was unacceptable.  Sure, it might be an issue of poor parenting, but then it might not be.  There does seem to be an awful lot of people that act like this out there, and I can’t believe that there are that many crappy parents.  Like I said before, it might just seem that there are really that many people who act like spoiled bratty jerks because they are so easily remembered.  It is like remembering that one year all you got for Christmas was a pair of socks or underwear or something as a kid.  That one sticks out because it was the crummiest one yet.  Maybe the same thing applies to people.  It is easy to remember the extremes.  You know the nicest people you meet and the jerkiest people that you meet.  The in between people tend to slip out of your memory.  Well, at least that is what it seems like to me.

All I really know is that I am going to continue telling my son that there is a consequence for everything he does and do the best I can to make sure that he doesn’t treat people like dirt when he gets older.

P.s. As part of my campaign to be a better role model for my son and a better person I have tried to stop swearing.  Unfortunately, it is difficult and is only showing in my blog posts.  I still curse like a drunken sailor at home, but I am working on it.  Oh and I also have been good while out shopping too.  No name calling or anything.  You have no idea how hard that is for me.  There are some people that are just begging to get yelled at and put in their place, but not by me anymore unless the occasion really calls for it.  Then all bets are off.              

P.p.s.  Please leave out any, "This is America if you don't like it then you can get out!" comments.  If you think about it, are they really necessary?  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sir, is this Party for you or for your Child?

Well, the little man’s first birthday is rapidly approaching, and you know what that means.  There is going to be a party.  Oh what a party it will be too.  With a little help from Grandma and Grandpa we reserved the use of a church’s basement to house the occasion.  I don’t expect there to be a huge turn out or anything, I just realize that if more than three other people show up I am not going to want them all in my house for the afternoon.  Let’s just say we are private people and our house isn’t all that large.

I guess that the hardest thing about a birthday party is the planning.  You have to figure out who you are going to invite, who you’re not going to invite, if it will be themed or not, will there be grab bags for the kiddies that show up, and so on and so on.  Then, you have the added pressure of this being your child’s first birthday too.  It is crazy.  He doesn’t care what happens.  I bet he could care less if he has a party or not.  It is not like he’s old enough to be greedy yet and desires a whole lot of presents to open or anything.  I remember that from Christmas when it took him two days to get down to opening his last gift.  Boy, did we overdo it then.  Let’s not make that same mistake for his birthday too.

Like so many things that involve our children, I firmly believe that the first birthday party is all about the parents.  On the one hand, it is kind of like a victory dance, shouting out, “Yay we made it threw a whole year!!!”  Well, I got new for ya.  That was just a year, and that was probably the easiest year too.  But, on the other hand, your child’s birthday parties, especially this first birthday, are a type of screwy contest between parents.  I justify thinking this because much like having toys strewn about your house is a way to show outsiders that you love your kids, ostentatious first birthday parties are also a way to show how much you love your kid, but they are also a kind of contest to show that you love your kid more than other people love their kids because you went through more effort and spent more money on your child’s birthday party.  I know that this is kind of a sick and twisted way to view it, but it is the only way that I can explain the obligation that we all feel as parents to throw a great big, grandiose party for our children’s first birthdays.  I mean come on people.  Your kid is only going to be a year old.  Does he/she really want to celebrate like it’s the only birthday they will ever have?  No, probably not, but I guarantee that it is important to you though because it will be the only first birthday that he/she will ever have. So why not live it up a bit right?  Oh, if that were the only motive.  (long drawn out sigh here)

Now, after denouncing the first birthday party idea, I fully recognize how hypocritical it is of me to get excited over the prospect of my baby’s first birthday party and want it to be a huge event.  I can say it’s not because I feel like it is a competition, but deep down inside we all know that that is a lie, and I am not the only liar here.  I am determined to keep myself in check though.  You see, I have all these grand ideas running through my mind on how I want this party to look and go, but I also have this annoying, realistic side of my mind screaming at me to K.I.S.S.  (That is Keep It Simple Stupid.)  I just know that if we made the party to big an occasion the little man would likely be overwhelmed and have no fun at all.  Despite what I say, I really do want the party to be about the boy and not about my wife and I.  I am just not willing to labor under the false pretense that that is actually the truth.  If I wasn’t so poor, I would be willing to wager that the little man would be happier with just having a small bit of cake and nothing else for his birthday.  He doesn’t really want any fuss or presents.  However, I could be wrong. 

Therefore, a small fuss will be made and there will be a few presents to be had on the off chance that I am in fact wrong.  To tell you the truth, I need it to happen whether he wants it to or not.  It won’t be a big ordeal or anything, just a little get together that’s all.  I don’t want anything to get out of hand because those are the worst parties to go to.  I am not just talking about the rowdy parties where the cops show up, but the quiet parties with thousands of people there too.  Maybe you are lucky and have never had to go to one of those, but if you have had to go to one you know how awkward they are.  Invariably, the party will have multiple mini-parties within it because hardly anyone will mingle with people outside of their immediate friend base.  If you are like me, then it’s even worse because you don’t know any of your friend’s friends.   So, you’ll be the one guy in the middle of all the different parties going on around you, and, of course, you can never track down the host/hostess because they are always too busy entertaining any number of other guests.   Luckily, this is just my kid’s party and he doesn’t know a whole lot of people yet.  Hopefully he never turns out to be a socialite.  Then I’d be in trouble.     

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Look out!!! There's a Toddler in the Kitchen!

If you have ever tried cooking with a toddler you probably already know this, but if you haven’t this is definitely something you should know.  Your toddler probably doesn’t really care what the food will taste like or look like when it is done.  What is important to them is being able to feel it and play with it while you are preparing it and cooking it.  I would say that I learned this the hard way if that were not a total lie.  In fact, I assumed that this would be the case.   I just didn’t imagine that I would create a cooking monster out of my baby boy.

It all started when I allowed the little man to knead some bread dough a month or so ago.  Naively, I thought that it would be harmless fun.   “What could go wrong?” I thought.  Well, nothing did then, but now I can foresee problems arising in the future.   Today I made the mistake of leaving our flour bin on the edge of the counter because I thought I would make some fresh bread.  Well…the little man decided he was going to jump for it and pull it off the counter.  Yep, the top popped off of the bin and a bit of flour spilled out onto our kitchen floor.  Then my little dobber started doing the cutest thing ever.  He started trying to knead the flour into dough right there on the floor.  If the camera had charged batteries there would have been an abundance of photo’s to share with you, but, as it turns out, I never charged them after the last photo taking session, so you are going to have to trust me that it was adorable.

What made the whole experience that much more endearing was the fact that he had previously upended our dogs’ water bowl, which helped to give the allusion that the little man magically made flour turn into a semi-dry dough.  What can I say, the kid is a warlock or something.  Soon he will be giving me tips and advice on bread making and hopefully in other avenues of cooking as well.  He seems very interested in it so far.  One of the main problems that I have with such an interest is that it could prove to be dangerous.  I don’t want him to burn himself or burn the house down or anything, but I don’t want to stifle his curiosity in cooking either.   That might ruin it for him for a long time.  So, for the time being I guess I am stuck walking a thin line between encouraging him and his creativity and allowing him to be in a situation that might be potentially dangerous.  I want him to have fun and try out things in the kitchen, but I cannot afford to be  too lax because that could be devastating.  Luckily he is still really little and cannot reach any burners or open the oven doors, but he is growing so quickly that that will be a reall problem soon.  That means that I am going to have to go to the hardware store soon to purchase some locks and safety covers for the stove and the refrigerator.  I am all about him playing in the kitchen with me, but I am not going to take any chances either. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's Wrong with Children's Books These Days?

Well, it is another fine rainy day today, which means it is a perfect occasion for some book reading with the little man.  The only problem with this is that it is so damned hard to figure out what book we really want to read.  Generally, my plan of action is to just read them all.  They’re kid’s books, so reading them all really only takes a few hours.  I say only a few hours, but for any of you that have children, you know that a few hours is a really long friggin’ time for a little one to sit still. 

It used to be that the little man and I could just sit and read together all day.  Then the little dobber got mobile somehow.  So, now we are lucky if we can read a few books together before he starts running around the house looking for things to destroy.  Man, he is growing up so fast!  Well, I have an answer to that.  I don’t make the little man sit still while I read to him.  He is free to run around and play.  Often he just grabs a toy and sits on the floor next to me while I read to him.  It is great fun, and I think he gets a lot out of hearing me read to him too. 

It seems to me that he doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other about seeing the pictures in the book, which is a shame since the majority of children’s books rely solely on their illustrations. Sure there are a few books that actually have a story too, but those seem to be part of a dying trend which is kind of sad.  I really miss the children’s books that actually told the reader solid story.  I guess those books and that style of writing is outdated, and that is too bad really.  After talking to a few other parents that I know, I found out something that’s a little disconcerting.  Well, I didn’t really find out anything.  I more or less came to a realization that just about anyone can publish a children’s book, which is why so few of these books make any sense whatsoever.  I was hoping that the books had to fulfill some sort of requirement, but no.  I was wrong, which helps to explain why so many children’s books are so tedious for parents to read to their children.  

It isn’t that they are difficult or require any kind of focus.  They just don’t make any sense.  They leave us disappointed because there are no moral’s to the story, no plots, and often times no point.  There are quite a few of my little man’s books that just aren’t logical whatsoever.  Why is that?  Don’t our infants deserve a proper story with a proper ending?  They are young, but that doesn’t mean that they are stupid.  That’s why it seems sad to me that a large number of children’s books are based on the illustrations and not the story or in many cases the lack of one.

I firmly believe that when I read to my little man he gets more out of hearing my voice than he does out of the pictures he sees.  This is one of the reasons that my wife and I started a family reading routine every night before we go to bed.  These books definitely have stories to them though.  We are currently reading the “Golden Compass.”  Like all the previous family reading books, we chose it because it had an elementary reading level, but has a decent story line as well.  It is something we can enjoy together.  

Sure, the little man primarily hops around on top of us while we read to him, but he is still listening and enjoying it as much as we are.  He may not understand everything, but I am sure he is getting a lot out of it nonetheless.  As long as we are reading and spending time with each other and enjoying it, the story isn’t all that important.  The main goal is for us to instill a love of literature on our baby boy, and I expect that the best way to accomplish this is for us all to read together and enjoy what we are reading and the time we are spending together.   

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Laws of Toddlervania!

Well, I knew it would eventually happen.  There was a pitched battle at my house.  I was overthrown by a much stronger, well equipped, and organized force.  

You guessed it.  This force was led by the little man.  

I am not sure how he managed to train his stuffed animal soldiers under my nose, but he did.  To put it simply, my allies and I were simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of them.  In the end I was left with just the cowardly dogs, who turned and fled, and the turncoat cats, who unsurprisingly switched sides once they knew who was going to win this war.  

I had no choice but to surrender. 

Soon after my surrender, the little man declared himself King of Toddlervania, which used to be known simply as home.  He is a benevolent ruler though and is allowing me to remain in his kingdom as his personal servant as long as I agree to meet his demands and follow his laws, which he has written below.

The Laws and Demands of the New King of Toddlervania

1.)    Thou shalt not worship any above me:

As the mighty King of this realm I require that you provide me with food offerings, which I will refuse and throw on the floor, and I demand that you think of naught but me for no less than 23 hours of every day. Yes, I will know if you are not thinking of me for I am not just mighty king of this glorious realm, but I also declare myself GOD within this budding kingdom. 

However, I am not an unjust mighty king/god.  If you should spawn another child I will share this glorious kingdom with him or her as well.  Then you shall serve us both as our slave, but you are still required to worship myself first and foremost or punishment will ensue.

Such punishment shall be a reign of terror until I see fit to travel away from this realm.  Do not test my patience, for I have the power to make your life a living hell for many years to come.

2.)    Thou shall serve my every whim:

No longer will it be said, “Just a moment baby boy.  I’ll put Thomas on in a minute.”  

When I want to watch my favorite Thomas and Friends episodes you will drop everything that you are doing to provide me with said entertainment.  I require instant gratification nothing else will be sufficient.

I will accept no excuses!  What I say, must be!  I am your king and your God!

With that said, I require some Yo-baby yogurt.  Banana Flavored if you please.

3.)    Thou shalt not question my authority:

If I say that I am God then I am God and that is that. You will treat me as such.  I require it!  If I tell you in a few years when I am able to speak your language fluently that the sun is following me then by ME it is!  No questions. Now, go and think of me. 

Sleepy are you?  Then dream of me!  Go!

I require it.

4.)    Thou shall anticipate my every need:

Come now!  This should be obvious, but I am assuming that you are dazed by the loss of your pitiful kingdom that is now my glorious realm. (This law is to be put under reconsideration later.)

Should I have poopy diapers you should have clean diaper and refreshing, cleansing wipes on hand before the  doozy of a two-zy is fully finished.  Then you must clean me and enjoy it while you are doing so, for I am God.  What better honor is there than the cleansing of your God’s poopy backside?

Yes, Bask in the aroma of godliness.

5.)    Thou shalt never tell me no:

We have established that in my kingdom my every whim will be obeyed.  Therefore, I can, most certainly, stay awake all night if I wish.  I can also have cookies for dinner, watch television until my eyes pop out of my head, play with your cell phone, climb into the dishwasher, climb into the refrigerator, remain nude all day if I wish, urinate wherever I choose, bite anything I desire, including the remotes, destroy the furniture, and the list goes on.  I may do all this without fear of repercussion because, let’s face it, I am the mighty king and God of Toddlervania!

6.)    Thou must swear allegiance to me and only me now and in the future:

Remember, I am allowing you to live in my kingdom as a servant.  

You owe me! 

There will be no alliances, no coalitions, or secret societies unless they are to further my gains as a mighty king/God.

Yes, I am aware that you and mother are young and there may be another sibling at some point, but I expect full backing in any future arguments I may or may not have with a co-ruler of Toddlervania that may or may not appear.  For, I am the 1st mighty king and God of this realm.  All others who follow will be less important.  

Swear it!

7.)    The name Toddlervania must be allowed to change as I age:

You may have guessed it, but I will not remain a toddler forever.  I require the ability to change the name of this realm as it suits me. 

But, you must swear to never allow me to name myself a tween or to call this beloved kingdom “Tweenvania.”  


8.)    My kingdom travels with me:

This should go without being said, but I know how tricky you adults are.  My rule is absolute and far reaching.  Wherever you are I will rule you and you will obey!  I am mighty king/God I require this!

9.)    Thou art mine to toy with:

I am mighty king/God!  You are the dirt filthy that must clean my poopy buttocks as well as any other bodily fluids where ever they appear.

Thou art charged with providing me with endless entertainment in any way that I see fit.

Now, dance for me slave! Dance!  I am mighty king/God!!!  I require it!

10.) Thou shalt not covet the cuteness, sweetness, or good manners of another child:

As your mighty king/God I am all the baby that you need or could possibly want.  Any comparisons of myself to other shall only reflect upon me favorably.  Let this serve as an example of my will, “Wow!!! That baby is ugly as sin not at all as attractive as you are my mighty God-King.”

I am mighty King/God I require it!  

Now...go and serve me!