Fatherly Stuff: March 2013

Mar 27, 2013

Funny Convo w/ My Kid (Boobie Exchange Program)

My wife says to me, "Kyle I need a check to pay for these girl scout cookies tomorrow."

My son, per his usual knack for interjecting in our conversations asks, "Mommy, how did you get them if you didn't pay for them? Did you trade them for your boobies?"

Seriously though, where does he come up with this stuff??

The Kid Show Bracket is Over (For Now)

One of the coolest things about blogging is the challenge of creating new ideas to engage my reader base. For the most part, the concepts that I have brought to you guys have been successful. However, as in baseball, it is also true in blogging that you aren't guaranteed a home run every time you step on the plate.

It is with this logic that I have made the decision to put an end to my Kid Show Bracket, effective immediately. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. First, there simply just was not as much interest in the bracket as I had anticipated and reader participation is key on having a successful tournament. Secondly, the winner of each match up was supposed to be decided via a polling system. Since Blogger only has polling capability on the sidebar of the site, I had to do some tricky HTML/Source coding to get into each post. Something must have went wrong because the program kept wiping away the count of the people that actually did vote (thanks to those people!). I still believe with the right moving pieces, the tournament could be successful in the future. But until then, I look forward to continue discovering fun and interesting ways to interact with you. Even if it doesn't always work out :-)

Mar 26, 2013

Funny Convo w/ my Kid

The other day my 3 year old asks;

"Daddy, what's for dinner?"

Me, attempting to be funny replied,

"We are having your favorite, boogers on a half shell"

He pauses for a moment, looks at me and says, "Gross daddy! You know I can't eat a shell"

That one had me and my wife laughing for days.

Bon appetite!

Does this remind you of anything? (Photo Credit)

Mar 25, 2013

Doc McStuffins vs Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Kid Show Tournament)

Here we go folks. Our kid show bracket is upon us!

In case you missed it, here is the intro

First up: In the Disney Jr Region. Doc McStuffins vs Mickey Mouse Clubhouse


Photo Credit
DocMcStuffins- This show is about a little girl who aspires to become a doctor, like her mother. Unbeknown  to her family and friends, she has a magical ability to communicate with all toys and stuffed animals, who come to life. She uses this ability to diagnose, then fix the various ailments that the toys incur throughout the show. These "ailments"  almost always tie into a relateable health lesson for the audience (i.e. importance of staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, eating the right foods, etc). The show has also gotten critical acclaim for having a person of color as the protagonist, which is breaking some major cultural barriers.

Photo Credit

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse- Mickey Mouse, along with all of his friends invites the viewer to his magical clubhouse for a fun, learning adventure. Mickey and the rest of the crew are always breaking the 4th wall (talking directly to the audience), seeking their help in order to solve ago-appropriate problem utilizing basic skills, such as identifying shapes and counting through ten.  At the beginning of the show when the problem of the day is identified, Mikey has Toodles, a mouse shape robot download various items to assist them on their mission. When a road block is hit, the characters call upon Toodles and critical thinking is used to determine which item to use. Once the mission is complete, everyone goes back to the clubhouse for a dance party.
 
 Winner of the voting below will progress to the next round. Polls close at midnight!

Doc McStuffins vs Mickey Mouse Clubhouse


Mar 24, 2013

Breakfast Art: A Re-creation and a Challange

Recently, I shared a cool picture on by Facebook page of whimsical breakfast art, courtesy of Designtaxi.com (Original article). The premise is simble; regular, everyday breakfast meals are transformed in very creative ways. Here are some examples directly from the site:

I thought it would be fun for my son and I to try and create some breakfast are of our own. We chose this picture:

Here is our rendition:
The only difference is, we used a grapefruit instead of an orange, our bubbles were made of strawberries instead of blueberries, our eye was made out of a chocolate chip and we used raspberries to make a kind of a zooming trail (it kind of looks like it's laying eggs, but I digress). Also, I had a ridiculously hard time trying to get the white underpeel off of the fruit. All in all, though it certainly wasn't perfect, we had alot of fun. Not to mention it was delicious. Or at least I think so: By the time I came into the dining room after cleaning our mess, all that was left was a dorsal fin.

So now the challenge to you guys: Think you can do better? I'd love to see you try! You can follow the template per the DesignTaxi website or if you are skilled enough, create your own. Any submissions will be displayed on a follow up post in the near future. Submissions can be emailed to me directly to fatherlystuff@gmail.com.

Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Mar 22, 2013

Fatherly Stuff Bracket Preview! (Children's TV Shows)

Ladies and Gentleman: March Madness is upon us.

All over the country people are setting up their own tournament brackets in an attempt to predict who will win the NCAA college basketball championship. This tournament is a source of fun, excitement and frustration for many: Even though the teams are supposedly ranked based on a seeding system, every team on the bracket has the potential to make to the big dance and win it all. This is what makes the tournament so awesome to watch.

In the spirit of this, I decided to create my own tournament. Children's TV has had somewhat of a boon in recent years. Companies nowadays pay millions of dollars in order to create focus groups and research studies to produce the best educational TV for our kids (not out of the kindness of their heart of course, but I digress).  Most of us let our young children watch these TV shows, but have you ever wondered which one was the best? Well, we're about to find out. The "players" will be 16 popular children's educational TV shows that we watch with our kids and they will be separated based on the channel that they are broadcasted on. I wanted to call it March Dadness, but sadly it was already taken. Here is the breakdown:

Region 1 (Disney Jr)
Doc McStuffins
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Chuggington

Region 2 (PBS Kids)
Cat in the Hat Knows Alot About That
Super Why
Dinosaur Train
Sesame Street

Region 3 (Nick Jr)
Yo Gabba Gabba
Team Umizoomi
Dora The Explorer
Wonder Pets

Region 4 (Sprout)
The Wiggles
Calliou
Bob the Builder
Thomas and Friends

Starting Monday, I will go through each region and list each of the shows strength's and weaknesses based on the quality of the programming and educational value. Readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite during each match up. By the end of the voting period, the show with the most votes will move on, the loser will be eliminated. There is a picture of the bracket:
 
 
So get ready because on Monday, the battle for supremacy begins!

Mar 19, 2013

Flashlight Fun


Question for you: What is the hottest toy on the market right now?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s not a $30+ item that laughs when you tickle it. You can actually find this awesome toy for less than $5 in almost any discount store in the world.

Give up? Okay, I’ll tell you! It’s a flashlight!

Hold on now, before you close out the screen for wasting your time, at least give me a chance to explain. You ever buy a huge expensive toy for your kid, only for them to just want to play with the box? Well, it’s based on that principal. Case in point: Not long ago, we bought our son an Innotab, which is the children’s version of a tablet. It has some pretty good games and he absolutely loved it- for about five minutes. He quickly got tired of the games and we were basically forced incentivized to purchase a number of game cartridges (between $30-$40) just to  keep him interested in using it. Moral of the story? Sometimes, keeping it simple is best.  The dark has a pretty bad rap for being scary and mysterious. However with a flashlight, there are a many creative games that will keep your kids entertained throughout the night (at least until it’s time for bed).

1.       Make shadow puppets

Shadow puppetry has been a popular form of entertainment all over the world for many centuries.    Whether it's making your own , or making hand shadow puppets, you can create all sorts of characters.

2.       Shadow (Sensory) guessing game

These particular activities are both stimulating and also sensory.  First, you can shine various objects like toys through the flashlight and have your child guess what it is. The other game would involve having your child identify an object based on texture (ex. rough, smooth, bumpy).
Can you guess who this character is?

 

3.       Tell silly stories

Photo Credit
This one is a classic.  We usually cover ourselves with a huge comforter, turn on the flashlight and take turns making up all sorts of fantastical stories. One of his particular favorites involves him has a superhero rescuing people from scary monsters.

 

 

4.       Hide and go seek

This is probably my favorite: We turn off all the lights in the house and either my wife or I are partnered with my son (so he won’t be afraid) as the “hider” or “seeker”. He is using the flashlight to look for the other parent or to find a nice hiding spot.
 
 
5.      Flashlight Twirling 

Photo Credit

         This is what all the young adults do in  the night clubs, sans alcohol and ecstasy (so I hear). For safety, I recommend you do this is an open space. Simply turn on some fun music, turn off the lights  and twirl your flashlights is various ways to make all types of light trails. Trust me, it's super fun.
 
 
 
 
 
 
So next time there blackout in your neighborhood or need an activity to do while camping or before bed, never fear; just pull out your handy dandy flashlight and you’re guaranteed have hours of fun with your kids.


Mar 18, 2013

WIN IT: $30 in Accessories (Fatherly Stuff Springtime Giveaway-CLOSED)


In a couple of days, it will finally be springtime.

It couldn't have come at a better time; I don't know about you guys, but this has been one of the worst winters in about 30 years and I'm tired of shoveling snow.

Spring is a significant time of the year for many families because of the traditions they share. These traditions vary from the religious (Passover, Palm Sunday), to the entertaining (Easter egg hunts), to the  hygienic (spring cleaning). This is the theme of our giveaway.

I've partnered with Vivaneskha (Vivi), owner of Jenvy Accessories. Vivi is extremely skilled and specializes in handmade accessories such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more. The winner of this giveaway will get up to $30 to spend on any item from her store. Here are some of the items:


Click HERE to see the shop's full inventory!
 
In order to enter, all you have to do is answer the following question in the comment section below:
 
What is your favorite springtime tradition?

The comments will be numbered and randomly selected by random.org. One person per entry. One comment = 1 entry. The deadline for the final entry will be Thursday, 3/21 @ 11:59PM EST. Winner will be announced Friday, 3/22.

(*Must Be 18+ to enter. Also when commenting, please make sure you add an email. Don't worry, we wont be using it for marketing. We just need a way to contact you when/if you win)

Good luck to you all and thank you in advance for participating!
 



Mar 15, 2013

Fatherly Stuff Mailbag: How Do You Bond With a Child that Only Wants Mommy?

Here is a question from fellow dad Mike:

Hey, any advice for getting through the "I WANT MOMMY" phase? I have a 2 and a half year old that almost refuses to let me do anything to help him/play with him (when Mommy is home/around). If it is him and I... (he) is just the sweetest thing in the world with me.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your question. I couldn't help but chuckle as I read this because I went through the EXACT same situation. To the point where if I wasn't there to personally cut the umbilical cord, I would have thought my son was still attached somehow.

For my son's first 8-9 months of life, mommy stayed home with him all day while I worked two jobs. This meant two things: 1) I missed out on a lot of the primary childcare duties and 2) When I was home, I only had a brief window of bonding time before it was time for bed.

Eventually I quit the 2nd job, but by then the damage was already done: We were great together when mommy ran errands or went out with her friends, but as soon as she came home, the tears would start rolling down his eyes and he would grab her legs as if he were being tortured.

So what gives?

Well, think about it from the little guy's perspective: Here is the person that carried him for 9 months, and was the primary source of food, shelter, warmth and safety during the post natal stages. So it's only natural that he is going to develop a strong bond with the mom.

I also think there is a gender component to this as well. Why do you think the popular terms are "mamma's boy" and "daddy's girl"? But I digress.

Here are some suggestions that helped me:
First of all, don't take it personal. In all truthfullness, being rejected by your own kid can hurt a little, but don't give up!
Also, when you, your child and the mom are doing activities together (cooking, arts and crafts, playing games etc), try taking the lead and letting mommy slowly take steps back until she is in the background. If he notices and starts with the "I WANT MOMMY", have the mom encourage/assure him to continue the activity with you. It's important to get validated by her.
If you are not doing this already, try incorporating yourself into his daily routines. Doing things like getting him dressed in the morning, giving him a bath and reading him his favorite stories at night will help develop a stronger bond with your child.
 The idea is demonstrating to him that like his mommy, you are also a reliable source of love, comfort and safety.
In the end though, you had it right when you called it a "phase" ' It is something that your son will eventually grow out of as he gains more and more independence. When that time comes, your presence will be crucial because he will be looking to you to help guide him into manhood.

I hope this helps!

Anyone else have a different take or additional pointers? Please share in the comment section below!

Mar 11, 2013

How My Son's Favorite Color Made Me a Better Dad

I’ve always considered myself a pretty progressive dad, riding the wave of modernity in the 21st century. In our household, the lines of the past that steadfastly identified what was considered “man” and “woman” responsibilities were more opaque and everything from diaper changing, feeding, paying bills and getting up late at night to tend to a sleeping baby is divided based on whoever’s hand is on deck at any given time. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but to be honest I felt pretty good about being what most people would label a “modern dad” and I wore that title like a badge of honor.

My title was put to the test however the day my wife brought this home for my son:



The first thing I said to my wife was: “Um that can’t be for my son. That thing is wearing a skirt”
“So?”
“Well, skirts are for girls, and he’s a boy so we have to return it for a monkey with a pair of jeans or something”

My wife rolls her eyes, calmly asserts that I am being silly and eventually the toy is given to my son. That little hula monkey ends up being one of his favorite toys as an infant and I realized that I indeed was making a big deal out of nothing.

Fast forward to his toddler stage:
My son is asked what his favorite color was and he emphatically replies that it is pink. Deep down his answer made me a bit uncomfortable, but I didn't show it: I gave him a hug and told let him know how awesome his selection was.
 But why did I have that reaction? What hell was I afraid of?
Well for starters, pink is a girl color. It’s not just “a” girl color, but the international spokescolor (yes, a made up word) for the female gender. You see it on every dress, tutu and Barbie convertible that is marketed towards little girls. So how could it be that my son, who loves to collect bugs, do karate and play with race cars would actually like something that is so obviously... "girly"? When I was a kid, if you we're a boy who admitted you were a fan of pink, you’d instantly be labeled a sissy and be the object of ridicule of every bully in a three classroom radius. I suppose my fear stemmed from a misguided desire to protect him from that kind of scrutiny. (I also believe that it is more frowned upon for little boys to explore activities outside the perceived gender role, than it is for girls to do the same. But this is subject matter for another post!)
After some reflection however, I began to understand that the issue was not with him liking this color, but with the fact that I had a problem with it at all. I then realized that maybe I’m not as much of a forward-thinking father as I had thought. Maybe I'm just as guilty of the same male chauvinistic stereotypes that were the norm during my father’s generation and the generation before his.
After I accepted this reality, I then decided to explore these feelings in order to understand, then overcome them.

And so began my journey...
So, who decided that pink was a “girl” color anyway? After doing a little research, it turns out that the practice of associating colors with gender is a fairly recent concept.
Photo Credit
  

When you look at the above picture, what do you see?

If you said girl, you would be wrong. Not only is this frilly young lad a boy, he is none other than Franklin D Roosevelt, one of the greatest US presidents who ever lived.  This picture, which was taken in 1884 is a reflection of the views of that time period. It was actually a normal practice for parents to have both boys and girls wear gender-neutral white dresses throughout their early childhood. By age 7, boys would finally start wearing pants and would get their first haircut. If I had to guess, I would suspect that this was done as more of a cost saving measure by the parents.
 According to an article posted on the Smithsonian Magazine’swebsite, there was a time as early as 1918 when pink was considered the primary color for boys and blue for girls. The public perception began to change around the time accurate prenatal testing had become standard practice. Child and infant clothing retailers, looking to make money, capitalized on this trend began to shift their products and advertising campaigns toward gender specific colors.
Then the cycle is perpetuated: as these gender specific colors become more defined, as parents and as a society, we tend to push these values onto our children and an earlier and earlier. I’m almost certain that my perceptions were directly influenced based on this trend.

So basically, the wool was systematically pulled over my eyes to believe the pink is a color exclusively for the female sex from the moment I arrived on this earth.

Despite this however, there's already evidence of the tide beginning to change.
Photo Credit
This picture of a mother and son with pink panted toenails, was taken for the 2011 J. Crew spring catalogue and caused quite the controversy, but it is also an indicator that the mainstream is once again evolving and pushing boundaries.

For me, the picture didn't bother me at all. I figured, whatever that little boy's parents choose to do with their child is their business. Little did I know that my son would once again unknowingly push my personal boundaries.

I came home from a long day's work to a giggling wife. Perplexed, I asked her what was up. She sheepishly opens up her phone and shows me this picture:



Apparently, he saw mommy painting her nails and thought it would be cool to do copy her. He then grabbed his marker and proceeded to color his toes. My wife thought it was hilarious. I'm ashamed to say that I blew it out of proportion and was pretty upset. I considered scolding him or at least explaining why what he did was wrong. Thankfully my wife brought me back down to earth, just like with the hula monkey situation and reminded me that I was being ridiculous. He was only a toddler and if I did end up confronting him with negative reinforcement, it would have likely done more harm than good. It has been about a year since that ordeal; he has never brought it up nor attempted to do such a thing again.

So going through all of this, what lessons have i learned?

 I've learned by understanding the false stereotypes that were taught to me in my youth, I am able accept the past without compromising my future. All that matters is the fact that I love my son and as his father, it is my job to ensue he is raised in an environment where he feel safe to express himself. And that includes him deciding to like pink, purple, blue or any other color he so wishes. Or if he ever wanted to try on his mommy's shoes. Or any other thing that someone might consider "girly". I will almost bet you that in the eyes of a child, most activities that we as adults tend to categorize with a gender are completely neutral to them.

Plus, who knows? Maybe in 50 years, pink will be the "it" color for boys once again.

Question: Have you ever been confronted with your own gender biases with your child(ren)? How did you react?


Mar 4, 2013

How I Taught My Son His First Curse Word





 It was a pretty typical morning: We are in the car on our way to daycare. My son tends to get antsy in the backseat so to pass the time; we usually like the sing a bunch of songs. The name of the song escapes me at the moment, but what had occurred next sets in motion the climax of this story.  I’m making a left turn on an intersection but before I can go through, another car comes in from my right and cuts me off, causing me to slam on my breaks.  The combination of fear, adrenaline and anger forces me to blurt out the “word” so fast it was already out of my mouth before I could catch it. Kinda like that scene from the movie, “A Christmas Story”
 
I regained my composure and after making sure the little guy was okay, we continued our commute with him blissfully unaware of how nwe arrowly averted a disaster. We didn’t drive more than 30 feet before he said it.

“F__k!”

I looked at him it the rear view. He’s grinning ear to ear, as if he knew exactly what he was saying.

“F__k-f__k-f__key-f__k –f__k!”

 

If I was in a clearer state of mind, I probably would have explained that his daddy said a naughty word that he never should have said it. I probably would have also apologized that he heard such a word come out of my mouth and told him that we don’t say words like that because they can hurt people’s feelings.

That talk would come later down the line, when he was a little bit older. During that moment in a panic, I went into full denial mode:

“What? That’s not what I said! What I said was, fork.”

And it worked. He believed that I said "fork" and all was well with the world.

I’ll be the first to admit though; what I did was a 100%, pure USDA certified cop out. But I just wasn’t in the mindset to deal with it at that moment and besides, he was only 2 at the time, so he forgot all about that moment.
In any case, it was more so a lesson learned for me more than anything, It was a reminder that no matter where I am or what type of situation I may face, I am a father at all time. As such, I have the weight of expectation. The expectation that I carry myself with integrity and composure especially in the presence of my family, because of the example that I set for them.

Because of this, I make the conscious effort to not curse whether I'm with my kids or not. That isn't to say that I don't slip up from time to time (especially when I stub my toe), but I truly believe that simply the effort in itself moves me closer to being the type of dad my kids can be proud of.

(UPDATE: He just asked his mom for candy and when she said no, the first words to come out of his mouth was, "Damn!" Mom just gave me a glare. I'm in trouble.)

Question: Have you ever unintentionally blurted a curse word in front of your kids? How did you handle the situation?