Fatherly Stuff: 2012

Dec 28, 2012

Top 4 Awesome Father Figures in the Comic Book World


 
 
In honor of Stan Lee’s birthday , I figured I would explore the subject or fatherhood in the comic book universe.  For better or worse, fathers have shaped the lives of some of our favorite superheroes (and villains). The following is a list of the best dads, in my opinion.
Before I get into it, I'd like to mention that while researching for this article, I had a difficult time finding good dads. Even the characters that I mention below had some sort of terrible tragedy that befell them that directly or indirectly affected the people who loved them. I guess it would be a boring comic if mom and dad were nurturing, caring and lived to be 85.
 

4.       Ben Parker (Spiderman/Marvel)


 
 

While not his biological father, Uncle Ben has been a huge influence on Peter Parker’s life. When Peter’s parents died in a plane crash, Ben and his wife Mae stepped up to the plate without another thought and raised Peter as their own son. His untimely murder at the hands of a bank robber had a long lasting effect on Peter’s psyche, ultimately guiding him in his decision to become Spiderman.  He realizes that he needs to use his newfound powers to help others over personal gain. Because after all, “with great power comes great responsibility”. As a matter of fact, if you look at earlier issues, you see a Peter Parker that is constantly bullied due to his nerdy disposition. He is actually quoted as saying something along the lines of, "Someday, I'll make them pay". If Peter wasnt given that moral compass by his uncle Ben, who know? Maybe he'd be one of the greatest villians of all time as opposed to heroes.

 

3.       Jim Gordon (Batman/DC)
 

 

Okay, this one is a little tricky.  As an actual father one could argue that he wasn’t really that great. His son, James Jr. became a psychotic serial killer that he eventually had to bring in. He is completely aware that is adoptive daughter Barbara (actually his niece) is running around in a skin tight outfit, fighting all sorts of sordid characters in Gotham city, yet he chooses to be in denial about it. 

To me, what deems him worthy of being on this list is his relationship with Batman. Over the years, their relationship has evolved from one of skepticism, to one of great trust and dependence. There are numerous occasions where Batman has looked to him for advice and Gordon has even saved his life at time or two.

 

 

2.       Charles Xavier (X-Men/Marvel)

 
 

It has been said that the inspiration for Prof Charles Xavier came from Martin Luther King Jr and his struggles during the civil rights era. In that spirit, Prof X has always been portrayed as the fearless leader of a peaceful solution between humans and mutant kind (with the exception of that Onslaught period (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onslaught_(comics) )). Once he founded the school, Xavier’s School for Gifted Children, it has been a haven for persecuted mutants all over the world. Xavier has been a strong father figure for countless people.

 

 

1.       Jor-El and Jonathan Kent (Superman/DC)

 

These guys are my number ones. To me, they both are the epitome of fatherly love and sacrifice.

 Jor-El, a brilliant Kryptonian scientist who after realizing that his volatile planet was going to explode, sacrificed his own life to ensure his son Kal- El would survive. Once Kal- El’s ship landed on Earth, he was found and quickly adopted by the Kent family. Through the lifelong teachings of Jon, Kal-El (Clark) developed those small town values and love of Earth and the people in it. This laid the groundwork to what eventually would become the driving force behind Superman's desire to help others.
 

 

So what do you guys think? If there is anyone else that I am missing on this list, please feel free to comment below and why. Happy reading and happy 90th, you iconic bastard!


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Monster shields up!

What is it about blanket forts that make them so effective against monster attacks? They worked for me when I was a kid an the technique has been passed down!

Dec 27, 2012

Dads Receives Best Gifts Ever

Usually the Holidays consists of parents working hard and going above and beyond in order to find that perfect Christmas gift for their child. I wanted to share a couple of touching stories I came across that celebrate the opposite: children who went above and beyond to give thier dad the perfect gift.


1.  Nebraska native Earl McConnell  received the greatest gift any dad could ask for from his son Justin.

Last year Earl was told by his doctors that his kidneys were failing. Being faced with his own mortality and the low prospects of an organ doner had taken a severe toll on him and his family. Once Justin realized just how sick his dad was, he did not hesitate to donate his own kidney. Although they had to spend Christmas away from home, the surgery was a success and they are going to go back home closer than ever.

When Justin was called a hero, he simply stated that he only did what his dad would have done for him.

You can read the full story here

2. Below is a video that has gone viral with over 4 million views. Initially, it looks like a dad was given a nice hat for a Christmas present. When he looks inside that hat however, he finds two tickets to the Alabama BCS game. Apparenty the father is a diehard fan becasue once he sees these tickets, he laughs tears of joy.

 
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  The love that is displayed between these fathers and sons is truly heart warming and I tip my hat to all of them.

Dec 25, 2012

Rudolph the Christmas pancake

It was a hit! Shout out to pintrest for the idea!

Merry Christmas!

It's 6 am Christmas day.

As I'm sitting at the table next to the plate of half eaten cookies and milk that was enjoyed by "Santa", I look outside and our entire neightborhood is covered in a blanket of snow. This is quite a surprise considering the fact that we went to bed on Christmas Eve without any snow at all and no indication that there would be. It's as if some little girl or boy prayed for a Xmas miracle...

It's really a very peaceful and serene moment. In about a half hour that'll all be replaced with sounds of excitement, music, electronic toys and little feet running through the house. I am definitely looking forward to all of that, but for now I'm taking in this white Christmas and thinking about all the blessings that my family and friends have experienced. Moments like these always seem to put things into perspective and allow me to take into account what matters the most in my life, while letting go of the things that don't.

Although the media tries to tell us otherwise, we must always keep close to our hearts the true meaning of the holiday season. Religious background aside, the holidays are not about what we see on the surface (food, gifts etc), they are about taking time to reach out to the ones you love the most and strengthening those connections. It's about understanding that love is self sacrifice and putting someone else's wants or needs before your own can be fulfilling in its own right. These are the things that I remind myself of around this time of year and I encourage you all to consider them as well.

I'd like to close out this article with a very special announcement: We're expecting! One of our many holiday blessings! Here's one of his/her first pictures.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Dec 22, 2012

Reflecting on Newtown


Hey guys.
It’s been a while since I posted my last article. I actually wasn’t sure if I’d ever post another article again. While the “mission” of Fatherly Stuff was to share my experiences as a dad with the general public, it eventually got to a point where the blog was taking me away from those very experiences that I treasure.
So I figured I’d take a little hiatus so I could focus more on my family. At the time I thought, maybe I’d write again in a few weeks. Well, those weeks turned into months and eventually, the blogosphere was pushed so far back into my mind, I wondered if I was really done with writing.
Then the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut occurred. 26 innocent people (of which 20 were young children) were senselessly murdered by an individual who obviously had severe mental health issues at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the country grieves for the families of these victims, we frantically attempt to find answers to rationalize the unthinkable, as our government furiously debates gun laws, parents all over are  hugging their children a little tighter every night. With this event, the dream of moving your family to a quiet little suburb so your children may be safe has been shattered into pieces, left for us to reassemble. The pure brutality of the event has touched my heart in such a way I felt the need to speak on it a bit.
Besides the fact that I am a father of my own, there are a couple of additional indirect connections that I have to this event. The first one is the fact that my wife is a kindergarten teacher. Newtown is not far from the school where she works and at the time, I had no idea the extent of the attack; if Sandy Hook elementary was the only location, or if the violence would spill in nearby schools. Needless the say, I was kind of on edge until she text me to let me know she was fine. Also, one of my best friends is coincidentally a rookie police officer in Newtown. It is typically just a quiet, picturesque town, when he first told me he would be working there, we used to joke that his biggest emergency would probably be that the local doughnut shop ran out of supply. Now, he is in the middle of an international whirlwind, working virtually non-stop shifts in order to ensure the residents in his town are safe and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Lastly, I learned that all four of the staff members who were killed attended the same university as me. While I did not have the honor of personally knowing them, after hearing the stories of their self-sacrifice, I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of pride to know that we are a part of a shared tradition.
So now what? Where do we go from here?
Well, the very next day in the midst of all of that death and devastation, I went to see Santa. Weeks prior to the Event, we had purchased tickets to the East Haven Trolleys. They have an event set up for the holidays where their trolleys take you to Santa’s workshop and your children are given the opportunity to speak with Santa as well as a photo op. Of course, this is all my son could talk about for all the days leading up to this, as he wanted to make sure Santa knew that what he wanted for Christmas was a Lightening McQueen stuffed toy. Overall, the trip was a success and the little guy was happy to find out he was on Santa’s good list.
In the back of my mind though, I felt a little guilty. The term "survivor’s guilt” is probably too strong of a word, but it definitely felt a little strange to be out enjoying my weekend knowing that there are families out there who just yesterday saw their children off to school without realizing that would be the last time they would ever get to hug or kiss them again. For those families, the holidays are forever tarnished with feelings of grief and here we are drinking hot cocoa hanging out with Santa Claus.
But then I realized something. Besides disappointing a toddler, what would I accomplish by staying home and doing nothing? Whatever the gunman’s full motives were, he obviously wanted to cause as much pain and grief as possible. So my thinking is this: if we allow that grief to consume us and run our lives, his mission would be successful. Maybe going out and having a fun family day was the perfect way to honor those children.
By doing this, we are proving to him that despite his grievous attempts, we are stronger and more resilient than he could have ever imagined.  With that said, I encourage you all to continue living. Continue loving each other the best you know how, and we will all get through this together.

Apr 5, 2012

Three Shades of Family: How We Address Interracial Challenges



We honestly had no idea...

 When my wife and I started dating, we weren’t thinking about how our relationship was part of a growing trend that is currently changing the cultural landscape of America.  We didn’t think about how as early as our parent’s generation, a union like ours would have been punishable by exile from friends and family, imprisonment, or even death. We just knew we were in love.

We didn’t really consider these implications… that is, until we had our son.

Before this, our lives were our own and we couldn’t care less about feelings and perceptions of others that disapproved. She didn’t care that I was an African- American who grew up in the inner city and I didn’t care that she was a Caucasian country girl from Maine. We were confident enough as individuals to see beyond color and culture. But now things are different. We brought a new life into this world. A world, while still evolving, unfortunately consists of people who will disapprove of who he is.

Interracial children tend to face adversity for many reasons, which include but are not limited to:

1.       Identity- People (like myself) born from parents of one race tend to take their identity for granted. My skin color is just the same as my parents and most family members. From an early age, my “identity” was no mystery to me.  However, if you are interracial, with your mom looking one way and your dad another, your identity can be confusing, especially at a young age.

2.       Lack of Exposure- It is quite common for an interracial child to be immersed in one culture more so than the other. This can be due to growing up in a single-parent household, or to growing up in a neighborhood where a particular race is the majority.

3.       Isolation – Children are naturally curious and unwittingly cruel. If you are a child in a school where you look or act different from the mainstream, you will likely be a target.  This concept is no exception when you are an interracial kid in a class room full of other kids that look different from you.


Impromptu Family Portrait

With that being said, In addition to our regular duties as parents, my wife and I have another very important responsibility: To find fun and interesting ways to teach him about his different heritages, and instill within him a confidence of self. The idea is that love and acceptance from his parents and family will be enough to combat any negativity that he may face in this world.



Here are some of the things that we have done or are doing so far to prepare him.

                          
·         Choosing the right neighborhoods
           I mentioned earlier that I grew up in an inner-city area of New Jersey. The community that I was a part of was essentially a melting pot of cultures, religions and ideals. In elementary school, I remember doing book report with a kid Pakistan, bartering lunch with a boy from he Philippines, playing Mortal Kombat with my best friend from Guyana and playing baseball with my neighborhood kids from across the street that happened to be from Puerto Rico.   I truly believe that being exposed to these different experiences at an early age taught me to judge people by their character and not by their skin color. I want that upbringing for my son as well, which is part of the reason I chose the area that we currently live in. Not only will he learn the valuable lessons that I did growing up, the chances of this being ostracized will be drastically decreased in a in a multicultural setting.


·         Education through reading

 We find that books are a great way to educate our  son about his backgrounds that he shares with his parents. We also use reading to teach him about other ethnicities and cultures as well. He are example of our favorite books:


 Shades of Black- Primarily a picture book, Shades of Black is a celebration of the many colors that make up the African- American race. The pictures consist of children with a variety of skin tones that range from light to dark and proves how beautiful they all are.









GoodNight Maine- This also a picture book. However the images of both coastal and inland Maine are so strong, not many words are needed. We visit my wife's family in Main often, so it is cool to connect the images that we see in the book with what we actually see while we are there. An excellent bedtime read.









WhoeverYou Are - This is a book that I believe should be in every child’s library. The book has pictures children from all over the world and stresses the point that no matter where you come from, we are all have the same wants, needs and cry the same tears. The illustrations are beautiful and the lessons taught in this book will reverberate well into adulthood.







  
·         Visiting Family
My wife and I were lucky in the sense that our parents were very supportive towards our relationship.  I have heard horror stories where people were forced to choose between their families or the person that they loved.

Partly because of this, we make it a point to get out and visit them as much as possible. Our son gets to see firsthand how well people of different backgrounds can get along. Also, by visiting both families frequently, he gets to experience the different cultures. This way, he is familiar with both aspects of his identity, which I hope will develop his confidence as he gets older.
.


Fun with Grampy in Maine


Posing with his cousins in NJ





While race relations in our country have steadily improved over the years, they are by no stretch of the imagination perfect. There are still people in this world who will say and do things in order to make our son feel as though he does not belong. While we can’t protect him from everything, what we can do is our best to prepare him for what he may encounter.

Question: What's your take on interracial marriages and the challanges they and their children face? Can you relate (directly or indirectly) to these issues?

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Mar 28, 2012

Top 3 FREE Favorite Smartphone Apps for Toddlers (for iPhone and Android)

We have a Twitter, and a Facebook. Check us out sometime!




Question: What is the fastest selling product in the infant/toddler demographic?

A) Television & Movies

B) Books

C) Smartphone Apps



If you chose A or B, then you clearly didn’t read the title of this blog post. There are literally millions of apps being sold on a regular basis, many of which are currently targeting the hearts and minds of our youngest inhabitants.


There has been somewhat of a controversy on whether kids actually learn from these apps, which you can read about here, or here. With your own research, you can make your own informed decision, but I make it no secret as to which side of the fence I stand:


Most anything in this world can be harmful, if used in excess. That philosophy can also apply to the usage of smartphone apps:


Is it okay to have your child use a fun/educational app within earshot of you while you fix dinner or get some cleaning done? Maybe.

Is it okay to turn your phone into super nanny while you run to the store real quick to buy cigarettes? Eh…probably not.

 It’s also a great way to avert potential meltdowns by keeping them responsibly preoccupied while you are driving, buying groceries, or waiting for a table at a local restaurant and those cheesy activity worksheets with the little crayons just don’t cut it.

 What I look for when searching for apps  are both educational value yet at the same time, is engaging enough to keep my child interested for more than five minutes. The other component that I believe is important as well is the cost . A lot of the time, you do get what you pay for. But I’m here to say that there are a few that exist where you can get quality at a great price (aka free).
Here are a few of our favorite apps that can be downloaded from iPhone and Android and won’t cost you a thing:

  1. Zoodles (Kid Mode)
    This app is probably the most versatile of the bunch. Once you create an account for your child, the app is programmed to engineer a virtual conveyor belt of activities tailored to their age. These activities include YouTube sing along videos, interactive games, finger painting, storybooks and the list goes on. Another cool feature is the video storybook. I can take a video of myself or another family memeber reading one of the books listed from my son to play whenever he wants. He loves it because he can navigate though the options with ease. I love it because I can give him my phone with the comfort that it comes with a child safety lock, so he won’t be able to contact Japan and run up my cell phone bill. I also like that the app comes with a Parent Dashboard that allows me to monitor and filter the content that is fed.

    The free version gives your child a large amount of content to explore, but there you can also purchase the premium package, which makes even more options available, for a reasonable $3.99 a month. Here's a YouTube video of the app in action.

  2.   Toddler Teasers(Shapes)

    The Toddler Teasers Shapes App is a learning tool that has figured out a simple, yet unique and effective way to teach your child a wide variety of shapes. As the parent, you can control the difficulty of shapes your toddler will encounter (2-D vs 3-D). They accomplish this through three basic menu options. The first is a kind of multiple-choice mode where your child has to connect the pictures of shapes with the questions being asked. Once they complete the round, they are rewarded with their choice of stickers.  My son enjoys being able to build and look at his sticker collection. Also, If the parent is interest, this app also allows them to track their child’s progress.

    The second mode works like basic flashcards that your child can go over either by themselves or with an adult or even a friend.  The third mode is called “Toy Box”. It is a random set of  3-4 games that center around shapes. All of this costs you nothing.

    This is where they get you through:  While the shapes category is free, the developers also have a variety of other subjects, ranging from letters, to animals, to even transportation that you can purchase at your leisure for $0.99 for 4 categories.
  3. iStoryBooks

    For a FREE app, it really doesn’t get much better than this. With a library of over 25 story books ranging from the familiar (Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Red Hen) to lesser known tales from countries like Gambia and Iceland, the iStoryBook app is littered with modest yet colorful artwork on each that is enjoyable to both the child as well as the parent.  The main narrator for the stories (Mya) is engaging and has a pleasant voice to listen to.  Some of the stories can also be downloaded in Spanish as well. What’s also useful is the auto-read option, which allows you to simply sit back and enjoy the story.  Here is a YouTube link of one of their stories.






Honerable Mentions

The following are also great free apps that didnt make the top 3 cut, but are still worth checking out:

  • Kids Piano Lite-A great way to nurture a love of music in your child. This app allows you to play free hand or with the notes automatically highlighted to make it easy learn the songs on their playlist. The piano key sounds are also customizable. While the full version does provide some extras, the free version is still a stand alone awesome product. Here's  a YouTube link if you want to see it in action.
  • Kids Finger Painting Art Game- This app provides you with tons of pictures to paint. It also has different paint brush settings which adds to the experience. The paid version comes ad free.
  • The Laurie Bernker Band Mobile App- I talked about this app in a previous post: You can access their database and listen to most of their songs and music videos. There is also an option to view info regarding tours and other cool updates.

Question: What other apps do your children enjoy? Is cost a major factor for you?


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Mar 22, 2012

Lessons From a Sick Child

I'll set the scene:

It was 3am and my sleep was disturbed by a vaguely familiar sound that is coming from my son's bedroom. Still half asleep, I groggily walk down the hallway to his bedroom to make sure he's okay.

My poor little guy was hunched over a bucket, dry heaving while his mother is rubbing his back and consoling him.

Apparently this was going on since midnight but somehow I missed it and was just waking up (Father fail, face palm). We later discovered there was a pandemic spreading at his daycare (thanks guys for the heads up) that eventually claimed my son as a victim. I discussed how kids passing on germs to one another was one of the cons associated with daycare in an earlier article.

Considering he was hurling his little brains out for most of the night, he was such a trooper. As I was getting ready for work (mom stayed home), I asked him how he was doing.

He replies enthusiastically, "I have a bucket that I can puke in and I go 'hurrrrr!' in it."

I don't know about you, but I've had a couple of stomach bugs and my attitude could be described as less than thrilled. Okay, I'm usually a big baby. It just goes to show the the resiliancy of children. It's a quality that I admire and we should all try to emulate when faced with tough situations.

Unfortunately, his day eventually lead us to the emergency room where he was given something to help the vomiting (followed by an awesome Monsters Inc sticker and a popsicle). However, he still  isn't 100%, so it'll be my turn to be home with the little guy and take care of him. Hopefully, he'll be well enough for us to get out of the house so we can enjoy the beautiful weather. Either way, I have a feeling he'll be okay.

Chillaxing under a bunch of blankets watching Elmo

I'm looking for suggestions! What types of activities to you do with your child when they are home sick? Arts and crafts? Movie marathon? Comment with your ideas below!




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Mar 19, 2012

Addressing A Common Fatherhood Fear (Part 3): Will I Ever Have A Social Life Again?

(This is the third part of a series that addresses common fears that new fathers typically encounter)

Part 1

Part 2

About a few days after I discovered that I was going to be a dad, I did what most guys who find themselves at a crossroad in life often do: I headed to a bar.

I should probably explain: When I told my best buddies the news, I think that they were about as shocked as I was.  They then decided the best thing for me to do was to talk about it over a few beers. As we sat there, each with a Corona in hand discussing what the hell I was going to do next, one of them half-joking said something along the lines of, "Whelp, enjoy that beer, since that'll be the last one you'll have for a while".

I kind of just shrugged in agreement, because that's basically what my, -and I imagine most people’s-, perception of fatherhood is: Trendy clothes are traded in for loose-fitting, puke and drool stained khakis. Weekends that used to consist of random, impromptu trips to wherever, will be replaced by daily feeding and sleep schedules. After all, everyone knows that once you become a dad, you can kiss your social life goodbye... right?

The epitome of cool
Well honestly, that's not too far from the truth. Once you become a father, your entire mindset changes and your priorities will almost instantly shift from whatever they were before, to what's best for the baby. Because of that, it is really easy to lose touch with life you used to revel in during what I call the "B.C." era (Before Child) and that includes your friends. This was especially true in my case; due to my younger age, most of my friends were and still are childless and as a result, I found it increasingly difficult to stay connected with them.  There are a couple of reasons for this:
  1.   The more time we spent figuring out how to be parents, not only were we too preoccupied to consider going out for drinks much; we were often flat out too tired to even think about doing anything but sleep whenever we were able to find a sliver of free time (which wasn't often).
       2.      As a parent, you'll appreciate the need for structure for you and your family. So, when you get a last minute text at 9pm     telling you that everyone is getting together at the bar in 30 minutes, more than likely, you won’t be able to make it. That also goes for spontaneous dates with your lady as well. Even random visits from your friends that never bothered you in the past will be unwelcome; especially if that visit causes the baby to wake up. This can result in friction and feelings of neglect from your friend's point of view.


Technically, I guess you dont have to kiss your social life "goodbye"; you’re just going to have to hold it by the hand and let it know that they just aren’t the priority anymore. Make sure you tell it that it’s you, not them that’s the problem.

Please know however, that while you will definitely have to make some life adjustments, you don't have to completely give up your social life. With a little hard work and open communication, you can still be an awesome dad, all while maintaining friendships and enjoying something resembling a social life. I've listed some steps below that I've learned that worked for me:


· Scheduling. Learn it. Love it
One of the simplest and most useful tools that I use to keep my social life on track is a calendar. It’s pretty straight forward:  by putting the effort to map out future events, it will make it easier to be there for your friends’ special occasions and you have that special alone time with your significant other. For best results, try to stay ahead of the curve by doing your planning as early as possible.



  •  Be Open Minded
This may be hard to accept, but the inevitable lifestyle change is too difficult for some friends to endure and as a result, you’ll probably lose a few.  That’s okay because you are also going to make new ones.  With that being said however, a good friendship is still a two-way street and effort on your end is still required in order for it to stay strong, baby or not.

  •  Be available
Every once in a while your lady may get invited to a girl’s night out. Unfortunately, this may occur on the same day you had that really crazy day at work and all you wanted to do was come home and take some time to yourself. Despite this, it will be in your best interest to be as supportive as possible and allow her to have a guilt free night out.  

  • Be quiet
This part is more difficult than it sounds. When you do make it out with your friends, of course you’re expected to talk a little bit about your baby, however don’t overdo it- as interesting as it is to you, most people won’t be as enthralled with the story of how  your child’s poop changed multiple colors today. Actually, it’s kind of a buzz kill. As they say on Jersey Shore, you don’t want to be “that guy”.




Question: Do you find it a challenge to balance your family and social life? If so, what ways do you manage them?



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1.     

Mar 16, 2012

Hilarious Video of Dads Changing Diapers

In honor of the recent Huggies Controversy, I thought I would post the following hilarious video of dads changing their child's diaper (or attempting to anyway).

While funny, these video clips were obviously taken some time ago and is not an accurate representation of the modern father, who can change a diaper (no matter how great the smell), without batting an eye. Actually, the video would likely be more related to a dad's first few experiences; We don't become experts overnight. It does take a little practice. I remember accidentally putting on my son's diaper backwards at least a couple of times when I was first learning, which got a few laughs.

The "most interesting" moment of that first week would have to be the time when I was changing him and his eyes suddenly grew wide and bugged. Next thing I know, I was introduced to a wonderful talent of babies that no one ever tells you about: Projectile Poop. I swear it must have flew a least 2 feet across the room.


Reenactment of what I imagine was probably going on in his colon
After the initial shock wore off, all we could do was laugh. I have a feeling this information was intentionally withheld by our parents, as some sort of "new parent's club" initiation.

 In any case, I'll stop rambling and let you Enjoy the video. Happy Friday!



WCWGAV5VWC8Y

Mar 13, 2012

Presidential Fathers and Sons (A Repost and Reflection)

The following is a very interesting article I came across in the Wall Street Journal by writer Michael Medved. He analyzes the top presidential candidates over the past seven elections and points out how each of their lives have been inexplicably shaped by the legacy (or lack thereof), of their father.
Rick Santorum was noticeably left out of this article, possibly because at the time this article was written (2/06/2012), he was not considered a serious contender, which goes to show you how quickly the tides can change. Or it may be the fact this is relationship with his father was seemingly average by American standards.

In any case, it is a strong reminder of the life long affect that our actions, no matter now small, as fathers have on our children.

Presidential Fathers and Sons

For the seventh consecutive election, the next president will either be a privileged son or a man with no relationship with his biological father.


Voters this year look set to continue an odd pattern that's prevailed in presidential politics for a quarter century. They will elect either a candidate with a famous father or with no father.

The surviving serious contenders—Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney—all exemplify one of these two categories. For the seventh consecutive election, the winning candidate will be either a privileged prince with an adored, powerful patriarch, or an up-from-nothing scrapper with no relationship with his biological dad.
Mitt Romney is a classic example of a candidate with a famous father. George Romney achieved distinction as an auto-company executive, three-term governor of Michigan, serious presidential candidate, and secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, enjoyed no meaningful connection with his birth father. Newton Leroy McPherson was an abusive, hard-drinking auto mechanic who abandoned his 17-year-old wife within days of young Newt's birth. The boy later took the last name of his stepfather, Bob Gingrich, a career army officer who moved his family around the world with the demands of his service.

The young Bill Clinton experienced related challenges: His father, hard-drinking traveling salesman William Jefferson Blythe Jr., fatally crashed his car three months before the future president's birth. The boy later endured the drinking and battering of Roger Clinton, second of his mother's four husbands.

Barack Obama fits snugly into the no-father tradition: Barack Sr. separated from his teenage wife and infant son before the boy's first birthday, eventually returning to Kenya where he succumbed to chronic alcoholism at age 46.



Republican presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich, left, listens to
Mitt Romney at a Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla

Curiously, this means that if Mr. Gingrich becomes president, three of the last five chief executives of the United States will have grown up with minimal or no contact with their alcoholic, self-destructive birth fathers. And if Mr. Romney wins, three of the last five presidents will have emerged from the shadow of charismatic, widely admired political leaders.







The latter category obviously includes George W. Bush, who still worships his father, the war hero and president, who in turn profoundly admires his father, Prescott Bush—the 6-foot 4-inch World War I artillery captain, Wall Street titan and two-term U.S. senator from Connecticut.

Other would-be presidents of recent years similarly struggled to live up to legacies of famous fathers. Al Gore grew up in Washington, D.C., as the progeny of three-term U.S. Sen. Albert Sr., while John McCain spent his early life trying to replicate the heroics of his father and grandfather, both celebrated four-star admirals in the Navy.

No recent presidents can boast paternity that seems ordinary or normal, finding middle ground between the intense expectations of a powerful, prominent parent and the disasters of badly broken families with absent birth fathers.
In one sense, these extreme backgrounds now dominate the presidential process because that process itself has become so extreme. A rising politico can no longer wait for colleagues to push or pull him toward a White House race, or dream of sudden success at some brokered convention. A serious candidacy currently requires obsessive pursuit of power over the course of several years, with expenditure of tens of millions in campaign cash.
What sort of person willingly undergoes such an ordeal? More and more, it seems, either a privileged individual with a profound sense of entitlement, or an unlikely upstart whose status as miraculous survivor amounts to his own anointing. But despite a shared sense of determination and destiny, famous-father candidates tend to run dramatically different campaigns than do their no-father counterparts.

Sons of famous fathers work tirelessly to burnish family traditions and complete the unfinished business of prior generations. George W. Bush focused on winning the second term cruelly denied to his father, and Mitt Romney still hopes to claim the Republican nomination that his father lost to Richard Nixon in 1968.

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Mar 12, 2012

Awesome Fathers in the Animal Kingdom that Will Put you to Shame

The fatherhood role in our society has shifted dramatically over the years. In my grandfather's time, men typically had a virtually non-existent part in child care during the first few years of life.
For example: My grandfather would tell me that back then, how it was common for men to sit in a separate waiting room while their wife went into labor and that the idea of a man changing diapers was virtually unheard of. Now compare that to my experience, where I was there for every step of my son's birth, from labor pains to cutting the umbilical cord. Not to mention, I've changed so many dirty diapers that my wife and I would play "rock, paper, scissors" to see who would change the next one. This is now considered the norm.
I am not saying all of this to brag; I'm using this example to highlight the stark difference of what it means to be a father today versus the historical model and I am proud to be apart of the upward trend.

 What is shocking to me is while this increased hands-on approach to fatherhood is more or less just starting to come around, there are examples in the animal kingdom of truly dedicated, nurturing dads that have been ahead of the curve and for hundreds of years.

You would be amazed at the many examples, but I’m going to list the top 5 that I found the most interesting. Perhaps we can all look towards these creatures and learn from them:



1. Emperor Penguins


Anyone that has seen the movie, " Happy Feet" knows how devoted these fathers are. As largest known species of Penguin, they are exclusively found in Antarctica. If that wasn't bad enough, their mating season of choice is winter, which can reach temperatures as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit When the female penguin lays their egg, the dad takes over all parental duties and keeps it warm by balancing the egg on his feet, which can take up to 9 weeks, until the baby hatches. This is truly an admirable feat, considering they stay in one place the entire time, while withstanding bitter temperatures and eating nothing, all for the sake for their chick.










2.  Seahorse


What makes the daddy seahorse so unique and kinda weird is the fact that they take on a role that's typically reserved for females in every other species on the planet. When two seahorses, er, procreate, the female connects itself to the male and inserts her eggs into his pouch , effectively impregnating the male (sexy much?). He then carries his brood (which can be up to as many as 1,500 babies), for up to 10 weeks, depending on the species. The world hasn't seen anything this amazing since the movie, Junior.


3.   Red Fox





      The most distinguishing characteristic of the male Red Fox is the amount attention they give to their cubs. When the cubs are first born, they spend the first month feeding from their mother, who is unable to leave the den at all during this time. The male fox provides food for her every 4-6 hours until she is able to hunt on her own. Once the cubs are old enough, the dad plays with them constantly and teaches them useful skills like how to hunt and forage for food, until they can fend for themselves.

Here's a  cool YouTube clip of a father and son cub in action:






4.   Catfish

The Catfish may be one of the most unlikely animals on this list, but these guys show one of the most extensive displays of paternal care in the fish world. The father keeps about 48 marble size eggs in his mouth, a process called mouth brooding. This can last for up to 60 days and the entire time, he refuses to eat, opting for starvation rather than accidentally eating an egg. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is.









5. GiantWater Bugs

These insects may not be the prettiest in the world, but in the eyes of a Water Bug dad, they must be beautiful. He personifies the term, "carrying the family on his shoulders". Once the male and female mate, she glues the eggs (up to 150) to the male's back. From that point on, the responsibility of the children rest solely on dad. It carries the eggs around for about three weeks, protecting them from predators and parasites. He also strokes the eggs regularly to keep them clean. He will go through this process about three times per mating season. If you ever spot one of these guys, you'll want to make sure you keep a safe distance: their bite injects a paralyzing toxin that is considered one of the most painful in the insect world. When it comes to his eggs, this dad will protect them at all costs.


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