Being a Parent is Like Being a Homeowner

I love being a parent more then anything in the world. I hate being a homeowner more then anything in the world. Are you are really confused now? So, “how is being a parent like being a home owner?” you are asking yourself. Ah, more then you know young padawan, more then you know.

fatherhoodWhen I first became a dad, like all of you dads (and moms), I had no idea how to be a dad because I have never been a dad. I have never held a baby as I was scared of dropping it or even worse, making it cry! Which I guess would come with dropping it as well. What I am trying to say is, I really didn’t know anything about caring for a little person. I didn’t know how to change it, clean it, make sure it was safe and healthy, and how to make sure it stayed that way.

The WallWhen I first became a homeowner I had no idea how to be a homeowner. I have always lived somewhere where someone else took care of the property. Growing up I mowed the lawn and things like that, but I have never really worked with my hands and built anything. I never worked on cars, power tools or anything that needs maintenance.

The finished wallSo I came into both with the same amount of knowledge. None. Zip. Zero. Being a parent is like being a homeowner because you learn as you go. With my two boys I am learning every day what it means to be a dad and how to care for them. It felt natural to hold “A” for the first time. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t worried. Changing that first diaper and all the ones after that wasn’t a challenge. Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of challenges. I don’t always know the right ways to do things. I do make many mistakes. Figuring out what to make a very picky eater every day is a challenge. Figuring out how to keep a four year old entertained when he always wants to be doing something, is a challenge.

It is the same with owning a home. Mowing the lawn is easy. Cleaning the bathrooms is easy. Vacuuming and doing laundry  is easy. Fixing things and building things when you have never done so, is challenging. Putting in new light fixtures, and changing outlets, is difficult. Building a new coat rack is difficult.

But, above all else you have to be willing to give up things to be a parent or a homeowner. I don’t remember the last time I bought something for myself just because. But if the boys ask for something or need something I will go out of my way to figure out how to get it for them. If the house needs a new bath tub because there is a crack in the 6 year old one I have, I will give up my savings to fix it.  Kids and house come before my needs and wants.

So, hold on tight, they are both going to take everything you have, but they are both worth it. I wouldn’t change either for anything. Oh, and remember, they both cost you a lot. Always more then you think. But both are worth everything you put into them.The Joys

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Using All Your Tools To Make Something Amazing

This isnt what these are for

You mean this isn't what these are for?

You mean this isn’t what these are for?

I just want to start off by saying I have an amazing wife.

I was out of the house doing some work and the kids were bored so she (the wife) decided to make them forts over their beds. Now, we don’t have a lot of ropes and things to help keep the forts up in their rooms let alone above their beds. So my wife, being the resourceful woman that she is remembered my box full of Ethernet cords, cable wires,usb cables, speaker wire…well you get the point. There is a lot of stuff in there we don’t use. So she decided to use them as guide wires. As you can see it worked amazing. I came home to some monstrosities over the boys beds, but they have loved them so much it has been over a week and I haven’t been able to take them down. Way to go wife.

So what does your significant other do that truly amazes you? I would love to hear about it.

First Day of School

Ninja TrainingFirst Day of Ninja SchoolSo today it starts. It is old hat for the “A” and it should be old hat for his dad, but it isn’t. Today marks the day my youngest takes the next step away from needing me for everything to be more independent. Today, “N” goes to Pre-K. Today, I am no longer the center of his learning universe. Today, “N” will start learning all his ninja fighting skills from other kids and dare I say it…a teacher (gasp). Today is the day that his world starts to expand exponentially.

It is bitter sweet for me. I will enjoy the little bit of freedom I will have without the boys in theFirst Day 2 house, but I will miss the great adventures they take me on. I know, I know, I will still have plenty of time for them after school, but this new adventure for them makes me realize that I will gradually become less and less a part of  their lives as they learn and grow. I will be the taxi, the waiter, and the hotel concierge. I do realize that I will always be dad. I do realize that “A” and “N” will always love me. I just know that I will miss these full days, even if many of them are just filled with hanging out and watching shows and playing video games together.

So today, I sit here and contemplate the next phase of Ninja Training. Any suggestions?

The Giving Tree

shelsilverstein.com

shelsilverstein.com

As this summer comes to an end I am once again thinking about my time as a teenager working at Madison County Children’s Camp (Camp Lookout). It was a place that changed me as a person for the better. I often think about it and hope that one day my children will be able to attend a camp like Camp Lookout.

You see, Camp Lookout has been a refuge for needy children. Every child who comes to camp is there because they needed the love and respect that every child is given every day. They do not come from rich families, they do not come from perfect homes. Often, they are broken and need to be built back up. And the best thing is that the families do not have to spend a dime for their children to be there. Camp Lookout is run entirely on donations, grants, Community Chests, and the Madison County Board of Supervisors. Every child’s stay is paid for by the generosity of the community.

Every time I think about my years as part of the staff there, I can’t help to think of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It was a man stay on our last night of camp. We read it to the campers and it has basically become symbolic of what the staff does and why we do it for the campers.

For those of you who don’t know, the story is about a tree, and a boy (who grows up throughout the story). The tree gives to the boy everything she has, and the boy takes everything she has. I have realized as I read this story to my children that as you hear this story at different points in your life it means something totally different. As a child you understand it as a parent loving their child and giving them everything they need and want. As a teenager reading this to the children at a camp, I understood it to be about an adult figure giving children the love that they need. As a parent I understand it as a love so strong you will give your children everything they want and want nothing in return. Why? Because you love the boy, very much.

So as I think about my own children and being that tree, I straighten myself up as much as I can and tell my children to sit down and rest. And this tree is indeed very happy.

And the tree was happy.

And the tree was happy.

For those of you who want to make a donation to Madison county children’s camp so that some of the county’s most vulnerable children can attend please go to Camp Lookout Donations for directions on how to make donations.

The Fort

The BatcaveThe BatcaveWhen I was a kid I used to love making forts out of pillows and blankets at my grandparents house on a rainy day. Now as a dad there is nothing I like more then seeing my kids enjoy the same fun.

Inside the fortWith the help of the lead architect “N” we built one on a recent rainy day. I love listening to them play inside. I sat outside and just listened to their great imaginations at work. This is so much better then any video game or electronic device because everything they did inside and around it was them creating it and doing it and thinking it themselves. They were not being led by some device. They were leading. This is what childhood is all about to me.  This is what will help them survive out in the world outside of school. Imaginative play helps create imaginative individuals who will have great and imaginative lives.

But that is not what it is about for them. It is about fun. More then anything I enjoy that they are having fun with something so simple. “N” liked it so much he even took his nap in it.

Sometime, I love rainy days.

The View From My Office

The Batcave

My Office

My Office

This is the best thing about being a SAHD (Stay-at-home dad). This was my office yesterday. I got to spend time with my kids and have fun at the park. I am not stuck in some tiny cubicle breathing recirculated air. I am out in the fresh air playing with my kids. Sure, I don’t get paid for it. But the perks are amazing. I bet you don’t get this with your job.

These are the days that remind me why I am a SAHD. These are the days that recharge my batteries and keep me going. These are the days that I am not worried about the cleaning, and the housework. These are the days I am not thinking about the money I don’t earn. These are the days that I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

These are the days that remind me that I have the best job in the world. Now excuse me, I have a board meeting to attend to (ie. go play with my kids).

Go Play Already

Go Play Already

The Food of Champions

The FightThe Picky EatersI am going to start this off by saying that I love my children immensely. However, there is a constant fight in our house that I believe we will have for many years to come. We constantly fight about food and eating in general. I know I have touched on this subject a little bit before and I am going to expand on it here because honestly, it is exhausting. I will never tell you how to raise your kids, as I have learned that nobody can know how to raise your growing mutants more than you.

I have two mutants (yes they are mutants because they are constantly evolving every day). And because of their growing mutant abilities they have completely different tastes when it comes to food.

Alien Salads

Alien Salads

The oldest is very picky and really does not eat meat. Every-so-often we can get him to eat a cheeseburger from a fast food restaurant that starts with M and ends with cDonalds. I don’t really consider it meat, but he eats it. Every-so-often I can get him to eat a hotdog. Again, not really meat. I don’t mind the fact that he loves fruits and veggies, and loves pasta (only with butter and garlic of course, for his refined pallet).

Pasta that neither of the mutants will touch

Pasta that neither of the mutants will touch

The youngest will try anything meat. He likes beef, pork (especially the pulled or bacon-y kind), fish, poultry, eggs…the list goes on. Now veggies, he is a little bit picky and it takes a trained negotiator (my wife) to get him to eat some beans or broccoli sometimes. The thing with “N” is that he likes his food different. He likes it cut up, or with multiple dipping sauces (a kid after my own heart). He also likes to negotiate everything. And I will tell you this kid is tough. He knows our tactics and is skilled at getting around them.

Now these are not the only issues that we have at dinner time. “A” has ADHD among other things and honestly has a hard time sitting down for long periods of time. This has made eating out or just eating at home a challenge because it is a challenge to get him to stay in his seat for an entire meal. Now as any young brother would do, he copies his big brother but takes it to new levels running around the table and into the living room with his meal in his hands. This usually ends with the parental units yelling and threatening an early bedtime after numerous laps and calmer requests.

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza

We realize where we can take our children to eat so we don’t go to nice restaurants with them. We go to fast food places, or the family diner, or the Chinese buffet so that they can get up and out of their seats and pick the things they like. At home we deal with the running (to some extent) as long as the food is being eaten. I also make three different meals when I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner because; honestly, it isn’t that much more work. This way I can make sure that everyone eats at least something. For instance, last week I made two different pizzas for dinner. One for my wife, my mother and I was a ranch chicken pizza (which neither of the boys will eat). The other pizza was half sauce with a little bit of cheese for “A” and the other half was oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and a good amount of cheese for “N”. We all had salad (different dressings for everyone). The best part is that everyone ate their meal with very little negotiating and not a lot more work.

It works for our family. It may not work for yours. But I would rather put in the extra work to keep the sanity.

I would love to hear your meal-time stories. I would love to hear how your family deals with the horrors that are picky eaters. Please leave a comment or email me your stories and how you deal with it.

 

The Destructicon

transformers-legends.wikia.com

transformers-legends.wikia.com

I have my very own Destructicon on my hands. It is amazing the destructive power of someone so small. His ability is unmatched by any machine. He can destroy things that one would think should not be possible. His destructive power became evident very early on when he would touch something that “A” had for years and within minutes it would be in pieces. He does not discriminate either. Matchbox cars…wheels missing. The sprinkler for the lawn…broken. Older brothers plant on the 5 minute drive home from school…bent and broken. The t.v…Wii remote flung against the screen (luckily only a chip in the bottom). And it goes on, and on, and on. There is nothing he cannot destroy.

tfw2005.com

tfw2005.com

 

Right now it really is annoying and I hate it because “N” just breaks things without even trying (or is he trying). I believe that he is trying. I think that he (although he can’t articulate it) really is curious about the world around him and wants to figure out what makes something work. I cannot not wait for him to get to the stage where he knows that is what he is doing and wants to systematically take something apart to see how it works and then see if he can put it back together. I will gladly foster that ride. I will gladly let him take apart the old dvd player to take a look inside and see if he can put it back together. I will gladly let him help me try to figure out why the lawnmower won’t start. I will gladly follow him on his journey.

The destructive force

The destructive force

Until then, I will have to be Optimus Prime trying to keep Grimlock and the rest of the Dinobots from destroying the world they do not understand around them.