Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter - 2013

(Easter 2010 - I just love the images!)
   Happy Easter to everyone. No matter your perspective or persuasion on the holiday, I wanted to wish you all the best. Spring is such a neat time. Time to clean. Time to get the kids OUTSIDE! Time to rekindle old projects and get 'er done. With the temperate climate of the SoCal area, getting a fire lit under me to get stuff done is the theme of the season. We're already full steam on projects and cleaning in the Cheeky house!
   The basket hunt this morning was fun. Our 'Lil Miss was disappointed that she still doesn't know what the Easter bunny looks like. Our 'Lil Man was just thrilled to get anything. Wee Lass slept though it all. The neighbor combined egg  hunt was put off 'till this afternoon, and should be a great first annual with some great new neighbor friends.
   So from us to yours, with absolutely no cheek, Happy Easter, wherever tho say find you,.....after you've found all the eggs.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Party and Egg Decorating With Neighbors

"Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, 
and when I woke up the pillow was gone." - Tommy Cooper

   This past eve was too much fun. We headed over to the neighbors Easter party for a bite to eat, egg decorating, s'mores, and general hijinks. We had some pizza from a local place that's our "go to" for a great pie. That was mostly a formality in order to get to the good stuff. We got moving on the egg decorating and I drew the short straw to sit next to my 'Lil Man. He proceeded to drop the eggs into the color die from death defying heights like he was going for some kind of high score. The kids were all having a great time with it. Again though, just another step to the good stuff. 
   S'mores are a messy affair, but isn't that a small price to pay. There's an inherent peace to a fire pit. From our Wee Lass to the adults, the flames produce a calm that no medication can touch. If you'll see in the pic to the far right, it was a great evening between a father and a son. We roasted mallows together and found out a bit about our likes. I like to slow roast to a golden brown, while he likes to light that sucker on fire and yell, "Ziggybamwa!!!", before blowing out and feasting upon the sweetened charcoal. After they'd had their fill, the kiddies headed off to play games, chase each other around, and so forth. That left time for the segregation of the sexes. 
   The ladies were in the garage, talking about a number of different items. The guys stayed out by the fire and discussed politics over brandy and mustaches. Kidding, we laughed a lot. Stories of work, the kids, movies, etc. were all on the agenda. Did I mention we laughed a lot? My desire to repeat stems from a recent lack of guy time. The Wife and I love being together, working on our current wood pallet art projects. There's still the need to bond with members of your own gender clan also. I was happy The Wife was able to have some chat time, as she told me it was a great conversation and there were strides made to build friendships. Similarly, we guys need some time to give the Tim Allen "guy, power tools, drywall, ruff, ruff, ruff......." So it was time well spent. 
   Holiday aside, we discussed trying to start a once per week hang out to repeat the fun we had. We're game, and that's says something about getting out there, meeting new neighbors, and recapturing the community feel that I remember from when I was a kid. So as we head into spring, look for those opportunities to build relationships with friends, your children and their friends, and perfect the art of the s'more. By the way, the Jet Puffed Caramel/Vanilla marshmallows are super good. Try 'em out!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Work Life - Traveling Dad

"Living on Earth is expensive, 
but it does include a free trip around the sun every year." - Unknown

     As I type this, I’m on one of my 3-day trips for work away from my family. Ah, work life and the traveling dad. Luckily it’s not too frequent, but it’s time away from the crew nonetheless. As a father, I knew that work would some day pull me away for training, field days, dinners, and so on. The unknown was how it would impact the daily rituals of our humble home. Our evening routine is one of delicate balance. Just a slight change to that balance and chaos reigns supreme. So we treat that equilibrium with reverence and respect.

     It begins with dinner, moves to bath and jammy time, eases into books and stories, then ends with hugs and kisses. Simple, yes? NO! I’ve seen cowboys break a mustang before and THAT looked easier than building our homestead customs. People, our children have let us know that they need routine, stability, and for heaven’s sake, DON’T forget that story! It runs like clockwork and I say again, one tilt in the balance of our family ecosystem and we’re either up throughout the night with little ones, or it all ends in tears.

     So when I announce that there’s a trip of any significant length coming up, the groans begin. First, The Wife expresses her reservations, then her fears, then her acceptance. Once the kids get wind of it, there’s even more complaint, but in the form of a sweet siren’s song of “daddy, don’t go.” Heart strings are pulled, emotions run high, and I begin to wonder if I might be able to support my family as a man of leisure. You know, a man’s man, or man about town. No? Bah,…worth a try. It still begs the question: How does our family get by when daddy has to travel?

     These days, we have every iDevice at our fingertips to text, talk, and video each other. Those unto themselves could make you the daddy that didn’t forget his offspring before bedtime. Me and the family have chatted via the video phone, and I can’t get them to stop making lame faces into the camera the ENTIRE time! It’s a start I guess. Before I left for this trip, I did a personal note to the older two on 3 x 5 cards and left them on the table in the respective spots as I left the house quite early in the morning. I was told they were a huge hit, and are an example of the little things you can do to ease the suffering of the minor afflicted. Bringing home some sort of gift or treat as a peace offering couldn’t hurt either.

     The point is, dads, we are missed. A lot. A WHOLE lot. I read on a post recently that a dad has four girls that make him feel like a member of the Beatles when he gets home. We’re all rock stars to our children, and we can take care of our “fans” by taking a bit of care with how we leave them for our work trips. It will pay dividends in the end to pay attention to how we deal with being gone, as our little ones are dealing with us being gone.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When Babies Start Crawling

"Whoever wields this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." -Odin, Thor

   The time has come. Yes, it is now the time when we shall have no rest, yea no sleep. Our Wee Lass now "wields the hammer" of mobility. It's funny,..we knew it was coming, but not so fast! Now we're frantically jumping up from the our seated position every two minutes trying to prevent her from ingesting a block, a shoe, a crayon wrapper, the plague, etc. As our 'Lil Miss is a pack rat and our 'Lil Man is, well, a boy,'s not that easy.
   What does life look like when your baby starts to crawl? First off, there's the baby proofing. That's standard. One must review the state of the rooms the baby will be in. Sharp edges, access to stairs, small items from other children's toys, etc, are all on the list of review and renovation. Depending on how quickly the child can move, grab, and open, baby proofing cabinet and drawers might be right on the heels of the other items.
   The other item that may play into how fast you take care of those items would be how aware you are of your creepy crawler. See, there are two types of creepers in my opinion. There's my Wee Lass, the grunter, who sounds like she's pinching one off with each army crawl she does. This makes her easy to keep track of, and therefore we haven't had to make a ton of changes all at once. Then there's the "binja", or baby ninja. Having mastered the art of the infant ninja within, you turn your head for a minute and the child has the car keys and is halfway to Vegas before you can do anything about it. If you have one of those and need a support system, drop me a note and we can talk. Our 'Lil Man was a third degree binja.
   They are precious moments. Don't forget to capture them on film. Then you'll remember how cute they were after you're done pulling out your hair keeping up with them. Good luck!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When To Feed Your Baby Solids

"Did you know babies are nauseated by the smell of a clean shirt?" - Jeff Foxworthy

   I was listening to NPR today and a segment came on titled Survey: Parents Risk Babies' Health By Feeding Them Solid Food Too Early. A couple of things were mentioned that solidified why we do what we do in our home. The Wife, as has been mentioned before, is a research nut. It's really a talent of hers and she's tried to keep up on all the recommendations when it comes to care for our children. She's been diligent with nursing, even when our little ones treat it like they're being water boarded. Her diligence includes not giving solids to the little ones until 6 months old. We're there now.

   The NPR segment mentions that those who choose to start early are running the risk of chronic conditions such as childhood obesity.The CDC has some Childhood Obesity Facts that are a good reminder of why we need to keep that in check. The epidemiologist that was interviewed, Kelly Scanlan, mentioned that there is no good reason to start an infant early on solid foods. The study that was conducted said that about half of mothers got the impression from their health care providers that it was okay to introduce solids before 6 month, which is untrue. So we're needing to be more clear with our doctors, and they with us.

   This all being said, it's a lot of fun once we can introduce new foods. I've always tried to get video of each new food we try out on each child. The reactions are priceless, whether they be super excited for more, or make the face of utter disgust. I love the gusto in which my little ones go after their food. If it ain't all over, it ain't a good meal. Our kitchen looks like the end of the Animal House food fight. It's a lot of work, but getting our little ones started out right is a huge priority. How are you all doing? Thoughts?


Monday, March 25, 2013

Spending Time With The Middle Child

Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous.
But to an even greater degree than the sea,
it is terribly unforgiving of carelessness, incapacity, or neglect.
– Anonymous

   The above quote seemed relevant in regards to how we deal with our middle children. We're figuring out our 'Lil Man at the moment. He's an active little guy. His mind is in constant need of some type of stimulation. When he gets the slightest bit bored, he becomes destructive and difficult. His sweet nature is countered by his inability to understand his own frustration. He's the middle child.

   Our 'Lil Miss is the pioneer. She's the first to do everything, gets photographed doing it, and excels at a lot. Our Wee Lass is our youngest, and being an infant, gets a large share of the attention. My 'Lil Man is stuck right in the middle. Being a middle child myself, I remember certain aspects of my place in line. I will, however, give my mother massive props for taking the time to give us all the specific attention we needed. See, I know several families that have 4 or more children. Some of them battle with being stretched thin to the point of children getting gypped on the their time with the folks. I feel like I can see it in the child's behavior, personality, etc.

   So we as couple have tried to make that a topic of ongoing discussion. How do we spend the time with each child so that they're all getting what they need from their parents? I know there could be discussion about the firstborn and the last born, but we're talking about middles right now. It might be time to evaluate how we're doing with our middle children. Do they get their fair share of the time, love, teaching, kudos, picture taking, etc.? Ask those questions and be ready for the answers, good or bad. I found an article called Middle Children and the Future of Work that highlights why we need to not underestimate our middle children. I'm sure no one has their middle child(ren) chained to a toilet in the basement. Let's just remember to take a peek at what we're doing once in a while. They're ours for life. No exceptions.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

10 Steps To The Best Sweet and Sour Chicken

(Photo courtesy of The Cheeky Cafe)

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

   In the recent quest to find ways to cook at home and make it oh-so-tasty, The Wife stumbled across a recipe at Made It And Loved It that is to DIE for. The Wife made it, and yes, we loved it. It's only been two or three weeks and we've made it 4 times, with leftovers that are just as good as when it's fresh. I've been trying to round it to 10 easy steps so that 'yer done before you can say "COMBO NUMBER 5!!!"  Check it out. 

The Cheeky Daddy's 10 Steps to The Best Sweet and Sour Chicken
(prep time: 20-25 minutes   -   cook time 30 minutes)

Chicken Breading:                                     Sauce:
3-5 chicken breast salt and pepper                3/4 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch                                          4 Tablespoons ketchup (or barbecue sauce)
2 eggs, beaten                                            1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil                                         1 Tablespoon soy sauce
                                                                  1 teaspoon garlic salt

1. Rinse chicken, trim off fat or extras and then cut into 1 inch cubes. season with salt and pepper.
2. Set out the bowl of corn starch and bowl of the two scrambled eggs. 
3. Dip chicken into cornstarch and coat all the way and then into eggs.
4. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook chicken until browned.
5. Be sure to lightly separate pieces so there's not one giant piece.
6. Combine sauce ingredients and whisk until smooth. 
7. Place chicken in non-stick baking pan and pour sauce over chicken. 
8. Mix in chicken lightly to coat both sides. 
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then flip chicken pieces over and bake for another 15 minutes. 
10. Serve over rice with any combination of vegetable to taste, and prepare to be amazed. 

(10 steps photographed)
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Step 7
Step 8
Step 9

Step 10

   I hope you try this one out. I've enjoyed this dish as much as, if not more, than any restaurant I've been to. It's now a reward for me helping more around the house, with the kids etc. The Wife KNOWS she's got me. I don't mind,'s just soooooo good!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sleep Overs

"Little girls are cute and small only to adults.
To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized." - Margaret Atwood

   Tonight marks our second attempt at a sleepover. The first one went smooth and this one so far is going well. They played into the evening, had a good dinner, and then we all went crazy on building our frozen yogurts. A little television and then jammy time before we sent them off to the big bed on the floor. As pictured above, they needed some story time. When our 'Lil Miss's friend went to the restroom, The Wife crawled over to lay next to our sweet girl. Our sweet girl got all embarrassed and shyly pushed The Wife away exclaiming in a quiet voice, "Mommy, go! She coming back!" 
   You spend so much time being there for them when they need you, it comes as a bit of a shock when they're embarrassed by you. It was all in sweet fun, so there was no real harm done. More of a cute observation to see her trying to be so independent. She's 7YO, so if this is the tip of the iceberg,....then "ICEBURGGGGGG AHEEEAAAADDD!!!" No, really. Next is what, dropping her off at the corner for her to walk the rest of the way to school? I realize that the time is here to give my firstborn a little more independence. I don't want her clinging to us or anything (well,....uhhh, do I have to make that statement now?). So we judiciously choose which scenarios to incorporate a bit more freedom. She's not running errands to the store across the major intersection yet, but we've seen opportunity to try in different circumstances. 
   That's it then. What my mother went through when I finally was out of her hands. College, abroad, and such. She spent all those years guarding, protecting, teaching, and then trying to let go. I asked her recently when it ended for her. Her response could have been predicted by a stranger. "It still hasn't", was her reply. 
   And so it begins...


Friday, March 22, 2013

Potty Training Boys - Heaven Help Us

"I saw a white ladder all covered with water...It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall." - Bob Dylan

   Having a girl first was the ultimate life troll. We were certain any children that followed would be as easy as her. Friends and family tried to tell us otherwise, but our vast knowledge in parenting was so evident that we couldn't be swayed. I have since learned to love the flavor of humble pie. 

   The above image indicates the success of our potty training efforts. The Wife was downstairs in the kitchen trying to get our 'Lil Miss off to school when she heard the intro to "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls" landing on our entry way floor. Incredulous, she gazed at the golden cascade of arched precipitation. Clean up was a bear, and I received the image via phone MMS while at work. I gave him a full 10.0 for the arc it took to get that kind of range up against the wall like that. 

   We've thrown Cheerios and Fruit Loops in the potty for bathroom sniper school. It was going well, until a long drive to the zoo one day that involved a freeway stop and a well placed bush. A highway patrolman was kind enough to let us off with a "be careful" when he stopped by. Since then, we've caught him taking bio breaks off the front porch, back porch, side of house, and into the sand box. Dang, son, goes in the potty! 

   There are tons of methods, ways, old wives tales, and witchcraft on the topic. I'm not gonna list them all. The one that's worked the best for us is to get him out of an overnight diaper and into undies quick. We then ask and take him every 15-20 minutes. Things are getting better these days, though if he's on ANY type of electronic device, it's water works and a change of shorts. Know your kid and keep trying. I know it's hard,....I'M DOING IT!!! Soon we'll all be dry and happy. Best of luck. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

When Daddy Comes Home

"It is a wise father that knows his own child." - William Shakespeare

   It's the best feeling to come home to a round of "DADDY'S HOME!!!" For just a minute I'm a rock star. I get all the attention, hugs, and loves I want. In fact, as I approach the door, I anticipate the reaction of walking on stage for my moment in the spotlight. Will I surprise the audience, or will it be stepping out to a welcome crowd? Sometimes after a long drive home, I don't think about how we got to where we are. Other times I realize that there's a reason they go CRAZY for daddy!

   Even with my own father's distant nature, I remember looking forward to him coming home. He'd occasionally bring home a rare treat that we'd never seen before. He sometimes bring home a fun trinket  or unused tool of some sort for us boys to play with. For the most part, it was just the anticipation that he might, for once, and for a limited time only, play with us. He worked into the dinner hours and sometimes just made it to tuck us into bed. We still waited for him to come home though, and we waited every night. 

   I think we need to remember our audience has been waiting by the stage all day for us. Think of how we feel when Axl Rose doesn't come on for an additional three hours. You really want that kind of riot in your place? Nah, let's give them the show they want, and the one they deserve. Let's bring home the occasional treat, trinket, 'n such. Let's take a few minutes to ask how their day was, tell them how much we missed them, and maybe even spend a few minutes wrestling on the ground with the littler ones. 

I leave you with the words of a children's song we used to sing to my father when I was young. 

I'm so glad when daddy comes home,
Glad as I can be;
Clap my hands and shout for joy,
Then climb upon his knee,
Put my arms around his neck,
Hug him tight like this,
Pat his cheeks, then give him what?
A great big kiss.

Go get 'em dads. 


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hiding Places


Hiding Places

I see you there, sitting alone.
It's really quite cute, but hand back my phone.
Just one minute more? Okay, my sweet.
Just remember if you break it, the end you will meet.
I walked up on you with the softest of steps,
And saw your sweet piggies and quite nearly wept.
You and your force field, your castle, your cave,
A place where you would quite happily stay.
I remember the days I was right there with you,
As I shut out the world to experience things new.
So enjoy these quiet moments and treat them with care,
As we all know they are short and will not always be there.
You have just more minute, I see how hard you tried.
Just remember, you break it, and I'll have your hide.

Daddy '13

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Work & Family Balance Is A Dad Issue Too

"Today's involved dads are setting such high standards for themselves that even though, by all measures, they are more involved than the last generation's dads, they still want to do more."
- Vinent DiCaro of the National Fatherhood Initiative

   The above quote was part of an article in Parenting magazine March 15, by Brian Braiker. (thanks to for the original Twitter post). It took a look at a study published Thursday, March 14 by the Pew Research Center. The study can be found here, and is worth a look. It compared how we view ourselves as parents now (2011) verses 1965. 
   The study includes mothers and fathers alike, but Brian's article asks a question specifically to us fathers. Can you have it all? Are you able to come home from work and give the rest of yourself to you family as well. Can you be a stay-at-home-dad, and get the most out of your own personal goals as well? We're told that nearly half of us feel like we don't spend enough time with our kids. That's after tripling the amount of time we spend with them collectively in the past 40 years! 

   A handful of fathers I'm acquainted with have expressed their desire to do better than their fathers did. I know I've mentioned that me and my three brothers have VOWED to be better fathers. We're more involved in every aspect, show more affection, are move vocal with our love and praise, etc. It's clear that the work & family balance is a dad issue too. We've made it our business, and we're trying to work it out. It's clear by the study that we truly are not happy with our performance, even with our great strides for the better. Like with anything we work at in life, trying is the first step. We'll get better along the way. Stay strong dads. We're needed more than ever. 


Monday, March 18, 2013

Board Games - Taking It Back A Few Years

“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.” - Plato
   Some time ago, we were gifted the board game set pictured above. The Wife and I have used it off and on since then, and it was at times a nice diversion to a young 'Lil Miss. These days, as you can see, it's being used in a more productive manner. The chutes 'n ladders game is the favorite, as the others are too complex. Checkers is next on the list. I think the point is that we're trying to take steps to encourage a WIDE variety of activities with our children. So in our home of electronics, it's been nice to take it back a few years with our array of board games.
   Our kids are already plugged in. They've been iLiving for several years now and have impressed our older generations with their tech savvy. I'm amazed how how many gaming messages are in the email outbox when my 'Lil Man is done with his turn on the iPad. I mean, how many friends does he really have to share that stuff with?
   When I watch my children play, I see how each activity can build an array of skills. Motor, social, strategy, competitive, etc. As a father, I love to see them play together. There are moments of revolution and words are had, but most of the time it's a serene environment. We usually put on some music and they play our kids friendly board games for any length of time. They play by the rules, break the rules, and make up their own rules.
   I love the diversity of what we have our little ones involved in. What sort of activities do your family partake in that we might try out? I'm "game" for anything.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 Steps To Amazing Pulled Pork Sandwiches

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." - (old saying, still true.)

     I've ALWAYS been a sucker for a great pulled pork sandwich. Cost used to never be an issue. It was about the sandwich. The meat. The sauce. Flash forward to now and the only thing that has changed is that cost IS an issue. The remaining three are still non-negotiable. Yet, I have the will, and my friends, where there is a will, there is DEFINITELY a way. We've been through many, many barbecue sauces and have landed on Sweet Baby Ray's. It's right up our alley and is to die for. We also had a crock pot that was never used (fear of the unknown). The day came when we had to make a choice. So we tossed in a $5 pork shoulder with some basic instructions,......and the rest my good people, history. Here it is in 10 easy steps. 

The Cheeky Daddy's 10 Steps to Amazing Pulled Pork Sandwiches
(prep time: 20-25 minutes   -   cook time 6-7 hours)
1. Drop in a pork shoulder/roast (bone or boneless), and pour about 1" of orange juice in a crock pot. 
2. Sprinkle brown sugar along the top side. 
3. Cover and place on low for around 6-7 hours. 
4. Remove cooked meat to a tray 'n grab two forks. 
5. Pull that pork (removing unwanted fat). 
6. Keep piles separate and gaze at the glorious ease. 
7. Wipe down the inside of crock pot with paper towel 'n put meat back inside over some BBQ sauce. 
8. Pour desired amount of sauce over top of meat and mix in. 
9. Toast your favorite sandwich roll (via pan, broiler, etc). 
10. Serve 'em up with another dash of the BBQ sauce if needed. 

(10 steps photographed)
Step 1
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Step 3
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Step 5
Step 6
Step 7
Step 8
Step 9

Step 10

   It's that easy and it's that heavenly. I have not purchased a pulled pork sandwich since. True story. Now get to it. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Easter Oreo Pops In Production!



                                              'Lil Miss: Daddy, do you have a sweet tooth?
                                              Me: Yeah, it's right, (pointing). 
                                              'Lil Miss: (thoughtfully) .....I hope I NEVER loose my sweet tooth...

   Ahhh, Easter. A time to celebrate by passing out on the floor in a pile of Cadbury Egg wrappers, and a chocolate ring around my mouth. This year The Wife and I have been spending our evenings creating Oreo Pops (I posted a few weeks back in Feb. for Valentine's and St. Patrick's here). It's been such a fun process learning what works and enjoying each other's company along the way. In a time where all our waking moments are sucked away by those oh-so-beautiful children of ours, we needed to find an outlet for us. 

   Hence the Oreo Pops! The above confectionery creations are the Easter edition, and can be found on The Wife's Etsy shop: The Cheeky Cafe Etsy Shop. It's been fun to send these around the country to people having parties, family gatherings, 'n such. They ship well, and taste super! We thought that one would never be enough as a stand alone treat,...then I had my first one. I needed a tall glass of milk after, but boy, did it hit the spot. 

   Take a peek if it interests you or someone you might know. I thought I'd share. If for nothing else, to pass on a way The Wife and I have found a way to connect, create, feel productive, and sneak in some sweets! We usually have an extra one or two that the children can have some fun with the next day. Man, they know how to decorate. So it's become fun for all of us. Get 'yer bunny on! 


P.S. Here's an old 'toon I did, showing how I feel every Easter afternoon. (from my art blog post "Too Much Candy"). 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Loosing Your First Tooth

(Photo courtesy of The Wife at The Cheeky Cafe)

"Dear tooth fairy. May I have 3 magic necklaces, and something for my brother." 'Lil Miss

   Our 'Lil Miss didn't get her teeth until her 13-14th month. We were told the old wives tale stated that she'd have strong teeth if they came in late. I was half expecting them to come in platinum. When they finally did, we wondered how long it would take for the to fall out. Her friends were all looking like Canadian hockey goalies late last year. Our 'Lil Miss was beside herself, feeling left out. We kept waiting, until the bottom two started to move. HALLELUJAH!!! The anticipation grew, the discomfort crept in, and last night, as she brushed, it came loose,.....and went straight down the drain. 

   We discussed a note explaining, but is that what a REAL MAN would do? HALES NO!!! I got a bucket, took of the plastic plumbing underneath, and found that 'dern thing! She was super happy, and kept saying, "I can't believe it fell out." Falling asleep took a bit longer than usual, but upon waking up it was worth it. $2 met the end of her slumber and all she said was, "She didn't even leave a note." (See a funny article about kids negotiating from the Huffington Post here). So the tooth fairy may be making a return visit to give her the tooth back (after appropriate processing) for her one time return to place in her baby book. There might be a note involved as well. 

   The right of passage at each stage is clearly evident, and needed. To see her feeling left behind shows how early our little ones need to feel normal, involved, included, etc. The nerves that come with pain and blood were all dealt with in a pretty straight forward manner. It's life. It happens. You'll be okay. Mommy and daddy did it too. Your friends are are still alive, right? Sure, we offered to tie a string from the tooth to the closet door once (not well received, by the way). In the end, our 'Lil Miss seems that much older. As you can see from the pic above though, her two permanent teeth were so far in that there's really no gap to speak of. No whistling S's, or juice spit our through the gap. Just two new ones right there behind. For the past few weeks, she looked like an piranha, or some shark with a double set of teeth! Fun stuff, y'all. 


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lunchtime In The Park

"Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!" - Dr. Seuss

   The park is a place of wonder to me. Always has been. I spent many a year fighting pirates, armies of the bad, my own brothers, and so on. I've driven in fast cars, rolled over the world in a monster truck, and visited far off places in my own time machine. The slides, ladders, poles, ropes, and such of the park were always my own jungle gym, obstacle course, or world beyond wonder. Now it's time to pass it on. 
   I was able to spend today's lunchtime with my 'Lil Man. We headed over just as I finished my morning's work, and he finished a round of Phineas and Ferb. We headed out and spent our lunchtime doing all of paragraph one. Well, most of it. We both made new friends, got some exercise, hydrated, rinsed and repeated. It's been getting to be nice weather locally, so the shade was the best place for The Cheeky Daddy, and my 'Lil Man was ALL over the place. He was trying new things, going to new heights, and getting a little sun on his cheeks. 
   The end of the day showed how it wore on him. He was tuckered out at dinner and didn't go to bed without a fight. It was worth seeing him play, imagine, socialize, and just be a kid. The imagination is limitless with those little people and we need to encourage that. We need to find the time, or make the time when needed. The Wife has told me how hard it is to pull that off with our 6MO, and there's NO doubt it's tough. When we can, though, it pays off big time. See you at the park!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Horton Hears A Who - Pop-up Book

"A person's a person, no matter how small." - Horton Hears A Who, Dr. Seuss.
   Most kids enjoy being read to, no matter the book. I will say that it's a whole lot of fun when you find one that the REALLY enjoy. We'd been through a number of different topics, looks, feels, and such with our 'Lil Man. He'd enjoyed the different themes, colors, topics, illustration styles and all. Then he remembered the book that was given to his big sis. Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears A Who Pop-Up! 
   We can all recall our own personal experience with Dr. Seuss and his wonderful books. Whether our love encompassed a floral colored pork and egg dish, or the tale of a rotten beastie that tried to hijack our most beloved holiday season, there's was a time we all embraced "the Seuss". We love the rhyming structure and tempo. We enjoy the wildly odd names of the characters, places, and exclamations. They're all wonderful, and here's one we love a ton.
  Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears A Who Pop-Up! is a great addition to your library. The story is just a great as it's ever been, but the pop-ups by David A. Carter take it to another level. The pop-up portion brings the already amazing and fun illustrations forward and engages the reader (and read to) like never before. The added dimension allows for even more imagination. There's a handful of pull tabs that add a little bit of action to the experience. Remember though, it's a pop-up book. Small hands WILL destroy it if allowed!



When There's Big Shoes To Fill

“You grow up the day you have your first real laugh -- at yourself.” - Ethel Barrymore

   Don't we all have BIG shoes to fill at some point? It seems like yesterday that I was the kid. After spending the weekend with my own three sprogs, it's clear that I've filled the shoes that I used to try on for size. I'm in the midst of trying not to feel the pangs of shame of the job that I'm not doing, in hopes that I'll try harder to a better one. As I make decisions, mistakes, and the occasional win, I look back at what I remember of my parents. Providing the essentials was a given, but that's not enough. 

   The lessons in becoming a husband and father came from several members of my family. My mother was first and foremost in teaching me what a man should be. Her approach was the most direct and formal. Opening doors, paying bills, planning lessons, being ON TIME, etc. She taught me to sew a button, iron my shirt, laundry, basic cooking, and so forth. I learned COUNTLESS lessons about life, and for that I'm forever grateful. Yet, who was to teach me to be the man? I found the lessons all around me. Teachers, coaches, church and scout leaders all contributed. What about the family? 

   My father taught me to leave everything,...everything, better than you found it. My grandfather taught me that with a great product and even better customer service, you couldn't go wrong. My older brother taught me that even with all the wicked of the world the swirls around us, you can decide who YOU want to be, and that should be good enough for everyone else. My uncle taught me unconditional love to your children. My step-father taught me how to treat a woman and wife. 

   So ask yourself, what kind of shoes are you filling? As I move along in life, I sometimes ask what type of shoes am I leaving behind to be filled? This helps guide me bit as I stumble, fall, pick myself up, and try again. The effort needs to be there. The conscious decisions we make to be better men, fathers, husbands, and humans. 

Just remember fellas, as Shang sang in Disney's Mulan, "Be a man..."

Later guys, 


Friday, March 8, 2013

Child Illness - So Sick I Could Die

"I'm so sick, I feel like I'm gonna die."

   I know we've all felt that way at some point, yeah? Today my 'Lil Miss was told she'd come down with bronchitis. She woke up last night with a 101 degree fever and has been tired and glazed over all day. She's had a nasty headache, and put herself to bed for a nap mid-day with the chills. At 7 years old, I'd wondered what she might be thinking about feeling so icky. I found out. 

   I was still at work and got a text that said, "So if this doesn't break your heart...she's feeling so horrible that through tears she just asked, "What happens if I die?" 

   THAT'S what she's been thinking about? I guess I've felt that way, but I knew I wasn't on my way out. The Wife had to calm her down and they were able to see the pediatrician before the day was out. I thought a bit about what life seems like to our little ones. Do we remember worrying about that kind of stuff, before we knew more about life 'n stuff? It really did break my heart to know that's what went through her young mind. I'm happy she voiced it, instead of keeping it in and stressing. 

   Always talk with your children. The little chats along the way, keep the communication going, and will add up to the ones that you're glad they came to you for. Granted, I'm still in the "ouchy" phase. I know that means one day, she'll be comfortable coming to me for girl stuff, boy stuff, stuff stuff, etc. Just keep talking. 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ivy + Bean - A Great Series For Young Girls


   How many of us remember being read to by our parents? It must have stopped early for a lot of us, as I don’t remember reading with my parents past 4-5 years old, and that was BEFORE all the electronic distractions. I don’t mean electronic baseball and pong. Those were still interactive and played by more than one. I’m talking about the iStuff that sucks HOURS of life from our children if we let it. I emphasis “if we let it” because we can affect the outcome.

   We try to read with our 7YO and 3YO each night for at least 10-15 minutes. More if time allows. The ‘Lil Man is interested in trucks, how things are made, and so forth. He’s happy with one or two shorter books, as that’s all he has the attention for. Our ‘Lil Miss, however, is into chapter books. That’s where our tale gets fun.


   The Wife found out about the book series, Ivy + Bean, by Annie Barrows. They have been the MOST fun. The Wife is quite the research junkie, so she looked for the right transition books that we could incorporate into our evening read. She found the books to be recommended by several different sites, moms, etc. They appeared to be that “transition” read that bridged the pictured book and the chapter book. There was just enough illustration to the story, but heading in the direction of just a good read for the child to imagine things on their own. OH, how it’s paid off! The Wife and our ‘Lil Miss love to read them together. Our little girl laughs at the funny parts, and asks questions along the way. At other times, when our young reader needs some time to herself, we’ll catch her reading them on her own. We’re quite happy with the effect they’ve had on her reading habit.

   To quote the description from Annie Borrows’ site: Ivy and Bean are very different. Bean is loud and wild and goofy. She loves to be involved in games and poke her nose in other people’s business. Ivy is quiet and full of ideas. She spends most of her time learning how to be a witch. Each girl thinks the other one is weird. Each girl thinks she could never be friends with the other. Especially because their parents keep nagging them about it.But sometimes opposites can become the best of friends because they’re opposites.

  It’s a wonderful series for girls. It’s already taught her to look for friends in unexpected places. The stories are great and the characters are cute & fun. The Wife and I highly recommend them for your young girls. Enjoy!