Let Us Not Forget

Let us not forget why we are parents and why we love being parents so much. I have found myself more times then I care to admit, lately, frustrated and short on patience. I get frustrated with the kids, I get frustrated with the wife and I get frustrated with myself.

Aiden2So I sit here and think “why did I become a dad again”? That is when something truly amazing happens. The universe steps in (or in this case “A”) and reminds me why I love my job of being a dad more than anything in the world. In this case, it is a lost tooth (the third in as many weeks), and a goofy smile that reminds me why I love this kid, why I love his brother, and why I love being a dad.

It is the simple things, like a goofy smile that reminds me why my life is truly great and why I wouldn’t change it for anything. I may not have a lot of money (one of the disadvantages of being the primary caregiver). But what I lack in money I make up for in love, experiences, and memories.

So why am I a dad again? This is why…Aiden

Why do you love being a parent? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Brothers; Why Having a Brother Rules

BrothersAs a kid, I never really thought about what having a brother meant. My relationships with my brothers were (and still are) strained for various reasons. Partly due to distance, age difference growing up, and resentment. There isn’t really anything I can do to fix these situations as I have tried and failed…miserably.

But now that I am going through my adventures in daddyhood I look at my two boys and think about what it means to have a brother and how awesome it truly is.

These are my 4 Reasons Why Having a Brother Rules! (in no particular order)

1. Built in playmate. When you have a brother, you always have someone to play with. No single player mode for you. He is always there to help you take on the bad guys so you don’t have to go it alone. He always has your back in that first person shooter. He is there to play action figures, build empires out of bricks, cushions and whatever else you can  think of. He is there to fight zombies in the back yard with you. He is always there.

2. Teacher/Student. Ever get in trouble as the first child? Ever get away with it as a second child? As a first child you often got caught doing things the second always seems to get away with. Why? Because as the first child you have become the sensei and have (unfortunately) learned all the ways to get caught. You have passed that knowledge onto your younger brother and he is now a ninja warrior. Cunning, sneaky, able to get away with things you could have only dreamed of. Thanks big brother for taking one for the team.

3. Built in Best Friend. When you are younger, you will probably not realize it, however, as you get older you will. Know one can know you as well as your brother. You get in trouble together, you play together, you argue, laugh, fight. He is someone you can and should share all of your joy and pain with. Because he has grown up knowing who you are and no one can understand you and what you go through like your brother. So enjoy it.State Fair

4. Built in Mortal Enemy. With a brother, you also have your biggest enemy. He competes with you in everything. He is the competition in sports, video games., board games, attention from your parents, attention from girls. You will learn the art of self defense from your bother. As the younger brother you will learn the art of taking a serious beating at the hands of a larger opponent. You will take this beating and keep on coming back for more. As the older brother you will learn speed and dodging are your friend as as your younger brother has learned the art of the projectile to keep you at bay.

So enjoy having a brother. He is everything you need all rolled up in one. So go out enjoy life together.Playing

Why Fall is the Best Time of Year

Autumn20140914_125814The best thing about living in New York State (yes New York is a whole state and not just a city) is that we get to experience four uniquely different seasons. Mother Nature must really like us to because we don’t have any real bad weather or natural events(aside from the occasional big snow storm) to worry about. We don’t have major earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes to worry about. We only have to worry about people who don’t know how to drive in snow.

But, to me, the best time of year is Fall. Fall wasn’t always my favorite. Obviously, as a kid I loved summer. But now that I am older and wiser (yeah right), I know that fall is the best time of year. So much happens in the fall (or near fall) that I enjoy so much.

First Day of School

First Day of School

The first thing that happens is my kids go to school. I know, technically it is still summer when they start, but to me, it is the beginning of fall. I love having my kids around, and I do miss them when they aren’t at home, but that 3 hours when they are both not here, makes it possible to get so much done around the house.

I also love the look and smell of fall. I love the color changes that you don’t get in the southern part of the country. I love the fall leaves while they are on the trees. Although, I do loath them when they are on the ground and I have to rake them for what seems to be eternity. I love the cool, crisp air. The fact that you can layer your clothes so that you are warm on the cool morning and then peal off layers as the day warms up.

But the thing that has really grown on me over the years, and especially now that I am attempting to garden, is that it is harvest season. I love the fact that all these great foods are being picked fresh and you can get so much good local fruits and vegetables. The best part is going to the orchard and picking apples with the family. We all enjoy it so much and have a ball going through the orchard picking all the different varieties of apples. The boys love finding the biggest, brightest apples they can find. They love running up and down the rows and rows of trees. I love the fact that I can get so much for so little. I am sure we will go back again and get more.

Apples from the Orchard

Apples from the Orchard

There is so much that can be made with them and I am just starting to scratch the surface of what I am able to make. I have made, Apple Pie Oatmeal, Apple Salsa, BBQ Chicken with Apples, BBQ Chicken, Apple, and Tomato Pizza, and Apple & Blueberry Butter. I also frozen some that I chopped and coated with Cinnamon and Sugar so that I can make a pie or apple sauce quickly. All this has been done and I still have a ton on the counter waiting to be used. What else will I make? Who knows. I am still learning as I go here.

Children and Germs, my Kryptonite

KryptoniteGerms. I hate them. I hate them. I. Hate. Them. They are Reason #3 why I am not a teacher. So let me do some Common Core Math for you here to make it a little easier to understand. Kids + Germs = Me being sick (constantly). So, as the new school year has only been going for a couple of weeks, I have managed to already get sick by these little germ factories we call kids. I am careful, I wash and sanitize, I clean the house, but it doesn’t fail. For the better part of 4 days I had been achy, fevery, coughy, running nose(y)?

I know why this happened to. It is because this is N’s first time in school. He is being introduced to all these new exciting germs on a daily basis. Germs he hasn’t had contact with previously. Germs, he brings home to dad. Germs that get dad sick. You see, dad has always been one to easily get sick. Strep throat as a kid. Constantly. Ear Infections. All the time. Scarlet Fever. Yep. Now before kids, I was a fairly healthy adult. Seasonal allergies, sure. But not constant sickness. Now here I am, and every school year, I get sick.

But, the worst part is that now that I am getting better and have been very careful around my kids to not get them sick. N is home today because he was coughing constantly yesterday and up during the night with a fever. So the germs finally did him in to. Eventually he will get used to all these new germs while daddy goes through the rollercoaster ride of sickness all school year. At least I don’t have a job I have to go to even while I am sick because I used all my personal time for sick kids. Oh, wait…

Sick kid and his puppy

Sick kid and his puppy

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.

Weekend Review September 8, 2014

Weapons Training

Listen up maggots, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and start shooting some guns! How else are you going to survive the zombie apocalypse when it happens? So, put on your vest, grab your gun and start shooting.

Laserquest.com

Laserquest.com

Laser Quest

We recently went to play Laser Tag at Laser Quest on a hot but rainy Labor Day. Can I just say…It was a blast!

Description

If you don’t know what laser tag is watch the video.

You done watching the video? Good. Pretty self explanatory, huh? Well, that does a better job of explaining and showing what Laser Quest is then me. But, to add to it, they have video games, foosball, air hockey and other games in the area you wait before being let into the briefing room where you learn about the rules of the game. They also have a few big party rooms for birthdays or other events.

Basically, they brief you, you get your vest and gun, activate it, go in and try to kill everyone. And by kill I mean try to get the best score out of all the people playing by shooting their sensors and not letting them shoot yours. The games are 15 minutes long which actually seems pretty long once you are running around this big maze which is lit only by black lights.

 Verdict

You definitely have to try it if there is one near you. So Click Here to find out if there is one in your neck of the woods. Every one enjoyed it. The only thing I can say is I wish they had some smaller vests, because while younger kids can play, the vest doesn’t fit on a smaller child like my 4 year old “N”. His mother and I had to take turns wearing the vest while he had the gun (which is attached to the vest by the way). So we had to follow this little terror around as he ran stalked after girls totally annihilating them. It is pretty difficult to do, but also a lot of fun. Also, leave your pride at the door to the briefing room because once you get in there you will quickly realize that you are going to be beat again and again by a 4 foot tall laser shooting maniac.

 

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.

Weekend Review July 28, 2014

Utility Belt

Lego®

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

This week I am just going to talk to you about Lego®. I grew up on Lego®, and my kids are growing up on Lego®. I do not feel that parents should force their love of things on their children and I have never pushed anything onto them. I am glad I never had to with Lego®. I have always loved building with the blocks and it is relaxing and can take quite a bit of time to build a complicated set. The great thing about this versatile little brick is that it makes for great imaginative play. While putting together the sets is a lot of fun. The great part that I see with my boys is everything else they make out of them and how long it holds their imagination.

Description

Lego® began making the “interlocking brick” in 1949 and has grown (through some ups and downs) into a huge company with more then just the brick. They now have many video games, clothing, movies, and even theme parks. But what it all really comes down to is the tiny little brick that can make imaginations run wild.

FallingwaterThe great thing about Lego® is that anyone of any age can find enjoyment in them. I received them as gifts up until my 21st birthday when I was sadly told I was too old to get them anymore. But I have gotten one of the Architecture series sets. While it did sit in the box for quite some time, “A” and I put together the replica of one of my favorite buildings in the world, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater®. It now sits on my desk with Benny (if you watched The Lego® Movie you know who I am talking about) standing on the bridge holding my phone charger.

The TableThat is another great thing about Lego®. “A” uses all my old bricks to build and add to his collection. He has a table full of all these old sets that he uses to make his new buildings. Some of these bricks are 30+ years old and he still is able to use them and they look the exact same as the new bricks he has today. It gives me great enjoyment and satisfaction to know he is playing with them and enjoys them as much as I do.

Pros (+)

+ Easy to build
+ Great for imaginative play
+ Many different sets.

Cons (-)

– Pricey.

Verdict

Who doesn’t want Lego®? I love them, my kids love them, everyone loves them. Great fun, hours upon hours of imaginative play. What other toy can say that?

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.