Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If You Want Your Kids to Love Star Wars, You Must Stop Hating Star Wars

The year is 1977. Star Wars is on the big screen for the first time. The look of the film is something you have never seen before. You may be only 10 years old but you know that what you have seen is something special. You know that you will remember this moment for the rest of your life. 
Cut to 1980. You just turned 13. All your friends are excited to line up for the release of Empire Strikes Back. You have spent the last 3 years dreaming of this moment. Playing with your figures in the sandbox acting out scenes on Tatooine. Convincing, Lisa, the pretty girl next door to be the Leia to your Luke and stealing a kiss when she wasn't expecting it. Little did you know the impact the movie you are a bout to see will have on you. Once again, you will be seeing a near perfect film. It doesn't get any better than this.
Move on to 1983. You borrowed your dads brand new Toyota Celica Supra and picked up Lisa to take her for the opening of Return of the Jedi. You are in love, the girl and the movie make the most perfect night you could imagine. After you drop Lucy off at home you sit in your dads car and dream of what the future will hold.
Go on to 1997. Star Wars is back in Theaters. All 3 movie are being re-released but now they are updated and being called, "Special Edition." You buy tickets to the first showing, one for you and one for your new wife, Lucy. Driving to the theater you reminisce about the old days and talk about how the movies changed your lives. Then the opening crawl begins and you see the difference. The quality looks great, the movie holds up...But there are little things you notice. Scenes added in that don't seem to fit. And didn't Han shoot first. Your whole memory of what you believe Star Wars to be has changed. A short time later you get to see Empire and Jedi in this same new edition and you somehow feel...Disappointed. "But that's OK," you think to yourself, "I just found out they are making Episode I, II, and III. Those will certainly be amazing."
Skip forward to 1999. You are 32. You have had tickets to see The Phantom Menace for weeks. How lucky you were to have a brand new mega theater with 25 screens that sold tickets weeks in advanced! You and Lucy crowd into the giant theater with many old friends that were there with you in line for Empire Strikes Back. The lights dim and the music hits and the yellow crawl fills the screen. Thing were right again. The movie ends and something just feel off. So you go again and see what it was...And you realize. You hate this movie. Sure it is Star Wars; it has Jedi, it has aliens and spaceships and blasters...But it feels wrong somehow.
Jump to 2002. Attack of the Clones is out and yet you feel the same something isn't right with it but you plug on and decide to just wait for Episode III.
Move forward to 2005. Lucy is at home with the baby and has let you go out to see the midnight viewing of Revenge of the Sith. Now they seemed to hit it right. But it's over and the prequels have destroyed your faith in Star Wars. 

I should begin this by stating I am a major apologist when it comes to Star Wars and the Prequels. I have never held back my feelings about Episodes I, II & III, which is that I enjoy them. Therefore, I am kind of biased when it come to that. Recently I heard a song titled, "Why Is Dad So Mad?, a song about kids wondering why dad is so mad when they watch Star Wars. Hearing this made me think about what I have done with my kids and how they developed a love for the movies. I have never really held Star Wars back, I will let them watch them all except for Episode III (so they will be surprised when they see Anakin become Vader) and Episode V (so they are surprised when they learn Vader is Luke's dad) and I let watch Episode I as much as they want. No matter how much the Gungans or young Anakin may annoy me instead of turning and telling them this I say, "Look at those funny guys, kids. Aren't they silly?" then they laugh and want to watch more. Later, when they are a little older, they want to watch more as well but ignore the "silly" guys.

My kids love Star Wars. It is always a big part of my life. I read the books and I quote them when possible and the kids are always being exposed to it, through me. That being said, I have never pushed them to like it. I don't force them to watch the movies; I let them tell me when they will watch them. People always roll their eyes when I say I force it on my kids but the reality is I don't. I have the belief kids will always rebel against what their parents like when they are being forced into it. If you force your child to always listen to country music he will listen to rap as a teenager. I don't want them to hate Star Wars because their dad always forced them to watch it. I want them to come to it on their own and if they end up not liking it then it doesn't matter...I will still love them. In the end it's not about whether or not they are like us, it's about whether they respect us.

Imagine a kid who grows up with a dad that says he loves Star Wars but always says bad things about George Lucas and how he ruined Star Wars. I imagine my 6 year old, who will be nearly 8 when Episode VII is released, would not be looking forward to it if all I ever do is say bad things about the old one. Comments like, "I only like the theatricals versions, not the Special Messed Up Editions," and "the prequels are so bad I doubt the new stuff will be good," will be noticed by your kids even if you don't say them to them directly. I feel every dad that likes Star Wars wants to enjoy them with their kids. So let's do them a favor. Stop making fun of the past and look toward the future. Be positive and expect the best. Stop hating the prequels and enjoy them with your family. Simply because if you want them to love Star Wars, you must stop hating Star Wars.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Diaper Nostalgia

There I am walking into a truck at my part time job at UPS when it hits me. That smell so familiar that I will never forget it. I sniff around looking for the source, knowing exactly what it will be and sure enough I find it. It's a box full of diapers. As a parent you will always know that smell. The smell of a fresh diaper. Whether it is Pampers, Luvs or Huggies you learn to know them all. They are all unique and if you have had a baby you have more than likely bought them all. You have trained your nose to that smell from the opening of a fresh pack to the sniffing of a toddlers butt with he hopes you will smell that fresh smell and not the bomb the child may have left you. For me it is instant nostalgia; it brings me right back to the time I changed that first diaper on my oldest boy.

I remember the hospital diapers and how they didn't really have a smell but when we first got home and opened that first pack of Luvs diapers. Of all the diaper brands Luvs has the strongest smell; those were among the first ones we used and I hated it. The smell was too strong and made me feel sick from time to time. Over the years, though, I grew to love that smell and when I would walk by a store baby aisle or come to close to a persons diaper bag I could always spot the Luvs. And now I when I spot it I immediately go back to that first diaper change with all my kids and feel sad and happy that they aren't that small anymore. It reminds me how much they have grown and how much I have grown, not only as a father but as a man and a human.

Of course, I am not the perfect dad right now but when I remember how I was before that first diaper change and where I am now I see how much I have grown. I remember when My cousin handed me her baby years before I had my first baby and I was freaking out. I didn't want to drop the kid and I basically didn't want to be in that moment holding a baby. It scared me and I knew I wouldn't be a good father but when I had my own baby in my arms all that fear was gone and when I opened that first inky diaper and pulled out the fresh diaper and smelled that fresh diaper smell, I knew it would be all right. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

One Way to Fight Childhood Obesity

Child obesity is a growing problem in our country. There are many ways to combat this; buying healthier snacks and encouraging outside play are the top suggestions but where do we really start. How can we, as a country even begin to turn around this growing problem?  It begins with being an example to your children. By being an example of control and fitness. It begins by showing our kids that it is not OK to overeat and that watching TV all the time isn't good for you.

I have always been a big guy and even though I have lost some weight and I am being more fit I still have a big belly. My son, Jude, told me that he wants a big belly like mine. I didn't know what to say to him. On one hand, him saying this, means that he idolizes me and wants to be just like me when he grows up. On the other hand, he wants to be the worst part of me and the part of me I hate the most. When I was a kid I was always a bigger kid than most and because of being bigger I would be identified as a fat kid. Now that I am older and I look back at pictures of myself I see that I never really was not a "fat kid"; I was just bigger than the other kids. Being told I was fat by my peers made me think I was fat. I would identify myself as a fat person for the rest of my childhood. When I was a teenager I didn't care. I was fat; it was who I was, so why change it. So, I escaped into food, overeating and the indoors.

Now here I am sitting next to my 5 year old child, whom is also big for his age and trying to figure out why he wants to be fat too. When I look at him I am seeing the boy I used to be. I don't want to tell him that he can't be like me so what do I say? That is when I realize that his future is in my hands. Not because I control his food and exercise but because I am his example. If I can't live a life of good health and fitness then he will become that fat kid my childhood friends thought I was.

What can we as fathers (and mothers) do to fight childhood obesity? It is quite simple: Be a better example. Of course, this saying goes with many different situations. Don't want you kids to smoke: Don't smoke. Want you kids to go to church: Go to church. If you want your kids to be healthy and fit then you most live the same life. Even if you are naturally skinny your kids may not be so lucky so don't think you can eat a whole pizza around them and have them ignore it and only eat a little. They will see you doing it and think it is OK to wolf down a Little Caesars Hot & Ready on a Saturday night after playing video games for 9 hours straight. Go to the gym or take them for walks and tell them you are walking to be healthy. In the end, it isn't about how much weight you have lost or how much smaller you have become; it is about how you are living your life. They will see it and they will follow you.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Masculinity and the Dad Community

One overall theme I see in the various Dad groups I am in is occasional slamming of moms and the media that don't understand what Stay At Home Dads do. I'm not saying that moms are being wrongfully attacked but I see lots of talk about how, "If only the moms on the playground knew I was a good guy" or "Look at me playing with my kids as well as your kids while you sit on your phone and ignore them." I see this talk often and in a lot of aspects it is true. Many times I have been on the playground and I have been ignored by the mom groups or I was the one playing while the kid's mom was sitting in the car. But there is one thing that isn't talked about. The problem of men. Yes, men. If there is one group that really doesn't understand what SAHDs go through it is men. Whether it is the occasional, "What do you even do all day," or "Why don't you get a real job?" comments we are always being judged and made fun off by our fellow man. There is this expectation to masculinity that is becoming an issue for me. Why is it that because I like to shop or because I love to play with my kids and take them to the park make me less of a man?

What Emma Watson said in her speech is dead on. The problem is not that women need to be more manly but that we as men have set the bar so high that anyone that isn't man enough to reach it isn't worthy of being called a man. Even in the SAHD community there are dads that still stick with the whole "Bro" attitude. They make masochistic comments, share photos of women and do everything in their power to emasculate any man that goes outside of the male stereotype by doing women duties or discussing women topics. Kitchen cleaning and minivans are not for these guys. I remember one time when I brought up a discussion on buying tampons for my wife and how I am completely comfortable buying them. Everyone else in the group was fine with it except one guy that was so disgusted that we would ever buy tampons only proved that we "must be buying them for our own vagina." This kind of talk is nothing new to men but it is a problem none the less. How can women be equal to us in the workplace and at home if we, as men, continue to put each other down when we are doing "women's work."

This need to prove our masculinity is a growing problem in America. If a women complains about being checked out, slut shamed or cat called she is simply told, "We're men, get over it." This has been used multiple time in some dad groups. And every time there is someone that says, "it's OK we are all guys here" and it is immediately followed by someone else saying, "Doesn't change the fact we need to be respectful." Of course, that is only in the good groups. There are some groups out there that don't care about what others say. They sit there and belittle women with no one telling them to stop. How can we expect the world to treat us like regular people when we act like teenagers behind doors? How can we expect to raise boys to respect women when we treat them like crap behind theirs backs? We need to unite as one and stop acting like we must "Man Up" and "act like a man" and treat women as if they are our own daughters. We must stop putting each other down and rise up together as great dads and caregivers. Our kids future depends on it. Forget being Masculine, I'm just going to be the best man I can be. If that means changing diapers and buying tampons then that is what I will do.

That all being said the online dad community is filled with the nicest most giving people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Without question they give of themselves completely to help anyone in the group that needs it. Recently a dad that was homeless came forward to ask for help so he could get a cheap hotel until he gets paid and they can find a place and right away many guys stepped forward to try and help him find a place to stay. I have seen dads pulled back from depression because of the help they received. I have seen guys ask the most deepest and personal questions you can think of and he is always answered without judgement. This dad community in my opinion rises above the male masculinity stereotype and not just because they raise kids but because they are genuinely great guys that believe in equality of men and women, 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Scariest Day as a Father

I was sitting with my, then 2 year old son Ben when I decide I was getting bored and wanted to sit at the computer. Since summer was over, it was my first week alone with the other kids in school and Ben at home. We had never had this much alone time and over the summer I had grown accustom to the older kids helping me keep an eye on him. It was the second day of school that year and our second day of being alone. I had done so many activities the day before, I ran out of ideas, so we watched TV instead. He was enjoying the show so I figured I could get away for a little bit and, seeing as the computer is in the same room as the TV, I figured it would be fine.

I don’t know how long I messed around on Facebook but I heard the laundry stop so I went into the laundry room to fold what was done drying. After about 5 minutes in there, I finished folding, went back into the living room and sat right back on the computer. I didn't even check on my 2 year old, I just went back to typing a comment. My friends were discussing Fight Club; obviously I had to join in the conversation. That is when I heard the blood chilling scream from upstairs. I jumped from my seat and I see him crying at the top of the stairs; blood steadily dripping from his hand as he makes his way down to me. I pick him up and see he has a cut between his thumb and his index finger. I can see white inside and as I take a good look at it, blood shoots out as if from a small squirt gun. I think back to all those cop/war/medical dramas and I put pressure on it praying that is what I am actually supposed to do and not making it worse. I am running around the house looking for something to grab when I see an apple sitting in the living room with the sharpest knife we own stuck through it. I knew exactly what had happened. We had just finished lunch and after I cleaned up I left the knife from cutting apples sitting on the counter. After running around for a minute as the blood is dripping and spraying everywhere I get my head together and finally find a new roll of paper towels and an Ace bandage. I wrapped his hand in it to at least stop the blood from dripping everywhere.

 He is still crying harder than he ever has and with every breath he takes I am praying he takes another. I can’t stop thinking about all those parents, I heard about as a kid, that walked away for 2 minutes from their babies and next they they knew the kid was in a well or taken or attacked or any other tragic that can take your child from you forever. I rushed him to the van, calling my wife an mother praying one of them will be able to pick up the other kids from school, and proceeded to strapped him into the car seat and rush to the hospital. As I got down the street he went quiet; I feared the worst had happened when I notice he was only asleep, I could feel his pulse racing as I raced every light to the hospital. For the rest of the drive I had one hand on the wheel and one on his chest, making sure he was still breathing. I couldn't stop thinking about what could have happened. I kept going to the worst scenario; He could have died while I wasn't looking and I was too “busy” to check on him. I has too lost in my own world of Facebook and acting like I am a great father to even notice my child was about to stab himself with a knife.

Turns out he missed all the important stuff and just needed stitches. My son was okay, but I was not. I kept thinking I was a bad father and that maybe I wasn't cut out to be a dad. I imagined what would happen if he had died; I saw the cops arresting me thinking I had done it on purpose, my wife going emotionally and financially bankrupt, my kids growing up knowing their dad had killed their little brother. The fear and mistrust that would always follow them for the rest of their lives. I saw my whole families future destroyed all because I just had to do one more comment and let all my friends know how much I like the movie Fight Club. I just had to read one more status; play one more game. I realized that to be a good father isn't just being in the room with your child. It means interacting with them no matter how bored you become. It means keeping them close even when you have to leave the room you must always know where they are and dangers are around them. It means showing them how much you love them at all times even when they do something they should not be doing. It means being a dad; especially at those time when you don’t want to be one. I’m not going to say I have changed a lot since this happened but it has done one thing for me; it has made me be more attentive and to pay more attention to him. As far as Ben goes he hasn't change much; in fact he gets in to things on a regular basis. He is now 3 and is just as wild if not more so…But I can say I have never seen him with that super sharp knife again.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Conversations With My Kids: Liam Says I Am Fat

Liam: Wow! You have actually gotten fatter, Dad.
Me <looks in mirror>: What do you mean?
Liam: Since the last time I saw you. Your fat used to hang here <gestures below his tummy> but now it is hanging here <gestures near his knees>
Me: What? When was the last time you "saw me"? <feeling like crap>
Liam: Yesterday. Before you ate split pea soup and starting farting all the time.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Changes and the Things to Come.

It's been a while since I have posted I. My blog but there is a decent reason why. This past June I moved with my from Michigan to New Jersey. As a result, I have been to busy getting things sorted and getting into a whole new routine that seems to change on me everyday. As a result I have been depressed and somedays unable to cope with the changes. I miss my family; my daughter,my mom, my dad, my sister, my little nephew John, my friend Ian and many more people that I may have taken for granted when I was living in Michigan. After all most people that stay in one place for their entire life become content with the people and places around them. Sure I have a clean slate here in New Jersey but it's difficult to come to terms with the differences in my daily life. I struggle everyday getting used to handling 3 kids as opposed to the day being just me and my 3 year old. I have been lucky to spend a little time with the great guys if the NYC Dads group but they are just a little too far away for me to go into NYC every other day.

As some of my regular reader, if there are any, may know that last year I won a scholarship to the 18th Annual At-Home Dads Convention and had an amazing time. After the convention I started dedicating my free time to help with the National At-Home Dad Network, I have written for their blog, helped with the fundraising committee and helped with the scholarship committee. I had a main goal of helping make the scholarship grow more than it has ever done. Without having away any information since the network hasn't announced the winners or anything I can say that I have succeeded in this goal. Unfortunately, there is one goal I have not been able to fulfill, saving my own money to attend the 19th Annual At-Home Dad Convention this year. I began by spending cash and saving all my ones and change. I would not spend those. Over time I started to add 5s here or there and my saving started to grow big time. In a few months I had saved over 150 dollars. But then the move came and I was forced to use those savings. I have not been able to recover since. With the convention getting closer and closer and looking at our future finances it is obvious that I won't be able to go unless I can somehow raise the money. At the behest of my good friend, whom is going but wants me there too, I created a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the money needed to attend the convention. 

This convention is really special to me in so many ways. The guys that run it are all people I hold dear as close friends. When I am down they are there to help me. When I need advice they have all been there or are going through the same thing. The convention offers so much for any dad, whether it be an at home dad or a working dad, there are some great things to help you learn to be an even better dad. I came away from the convention last year feeling refreshed and feeling like I can handle it all. Now I need that refresher. I need that reminder that there are other guys just like me that all have some story that is different yet still the same. 

I have been lucky to raise over $100 so far but that just isn't enough to get me there. If you can donate anything, even a dollar please do it! If you are afraid someone may see your donation then you can donate anonymously and not have to worry about that. All I ask is that you consider something.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Apraxia Awareness

So today is Apraxia awareness day. A lot of you may not know but my daughter Gabi has apraxia. When she reached the age of 3 and 4 when she should be talking she wasn't saying much at all. Mostly she just made noises and tried to indicate what she wanted. Many people would mistake her for being autistic or mentally challenged in some form but I knew she understood everything. When school started, the teachers suggested so each therapy so we had an IEP set up and she has been doing that ever since. There didn't seem to be much progress for a few years so we took her to an ENT specialist who suggest tubes in her ears. After the surgery we noticed big changes. We thought this would cure all the issues; at this point we didn't know about the apraxia. She stay in speech therapy and kept improving but she seemed to hit a wall and was making slow progress. It was then, about 2 years ago when she was 10 that I found  out about apraxia. Had I know about apraxia earlier we would have  been able to give her more attention. That being said lately she was grown so much in her vocabulary. She has good grades and has proved she is smart kid and is capable in spite of this one drawback. I am really proud of her progress, even when he says a phrase that makes absolutely no sense I know she is still trying. I want to the thank the teachers and staff at Webber Elementary in Lake Orion, MI for doing a great job in helping Gabi progress and always pushing her succeed.

If you know some one who has Apraxia please share your story today and help people understand that just because they can't say it doesn't mean they don't know it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mother's Day: A Day For Moms...Not Dads.

It's that time a year again. Everyone begins to get all teary eyed and wish a happy mother's day to their stay at home dad. Wait, what? Yes this does happen. I know not that much but last year, I saw a number of people wishing happy Mother's Day to their male friends that take on the role as an at home parent. I have seen friends of mine post pictures of themselves holding cards and lovely flowers, saying they received a Mother's Day card. I try not to get upset about things like this but in this instance it really bothers me. Not because it offends me or puts me in an emasculated position (which it does) but because this is supposed to be a day for moms. Not dads. Working moms, at home moms, retired moms, moms you have lost, moms you may gain, moms to be and moms who have lost are all the people that should be honored on this day. Moms...Not dads.

Don't get me wrong here, what we, at home dads, do is pretty amazing. We cook, we clean, do laundry, take kids to school and the park; things that have always been associated with "motherhood." We handle every aspect of the house while our amazing wives do what needs to be done to ensure there is food in our mouths and clothes on our backs. But I ask this one simple question, Since when does Mother's Day mean Homemakers Day?

Exactly...It doesn't

To me, it seems that by giving an at home dad a Mother's Day gift you are just slapping both, moms and dads, in the face. You are saying, "Dads, you are not man enough and working moms you are not womanly enough because you don't stay at home." And that is just wrong. Moms deserve Mother's Day. It is their day to relax and forget about their problems while the kids serve them. It is a day to honor our mothers and just our mothers. At home dads have their own day, would you give a working mom a Father's Day card because she is doing a mans job?

I didn't think so.

Please don't wish a dad a happy Mother's Day. It really isn't necessary because we dads know we are doing more than dads have historically done; but what we also know is that we have amazing wives and they deserve Mother's Day...Not us.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thoughts on Organization.

One thing I have always struggled with as an At Home Dad is the organizational stuff. Keeping a well packed diaper bag, ensuring laundry is neat & put away and making sure the kids keep their toys cleaned up have always been issues that I just can't seem to get right. There have been many time where I went a few weeks and had it all under control but then I fall back a little and seem to go right back to not caring much. Right now the laundry is mostly clean but none of it is is put away or even folded for that matter and I have been caught in public without a fresh pair of pants for my potty training 3 year old one to many times so I have decided it is time to make some changes and hope they stick.

One problem that causes me to fall behind is the stuff I volunteer with causes me to feel overwhelmed and I just shut down instead. After looking at all  I do I realized I am a pretty busy guy even though I am behind on all my endeavors I still have a lot of none house thing that keep me from being productive. I am going to start dedicating each day to one thing. On Monday I will work on this blog, Tuesday I will work on my book, Wednesday I will do something for the NAHDN blog, Thursday I will work on stuff for the convention and on Friday I will do work for the gaming site IndieLove. Saturday and Sunday will be spend with the kids and after they go to bed I will either game, watch a movie or work on the book. Now before I do any of this I will be sure that the house work is done first or I don't do it. I am really hopeful this new system will work out and I will start getting things done instead of just getting by with the minimum and never actually complete a project.

How about you? Do you struggle with this kind of stuff? Do you have a system that works for you? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Guest Post: Ed Elkins: "I am the Walking Dad".

I would like to congratulate my old high school friend Ed Elkins on the birth of his new baby and thank him for writing this great piece for me. I hope you all enjoy. This was was written the day after his first night home with his little boy.

The cry through the baby monitor could only mean one thing at 4:30 in the morning- "Feed Me Seymour!" Or maybe it was the lack of sleep that was making me hallucinate that Connor was crying. Nope...he was definitely crying.

It is amazing how calm everything is when your baby is cared for by trained nurses and covered in electrodes, heated by a baby broiler and fed on the hour every 3 hours by nurses with decades of experience with preemies like Connor. Then he is released out of the cocoon called the NICU and paranoia sets in. Not the kind of paranoia you get when you notice you're driving 10 miles over the speed limit and see a highway trooper parked on the side of the freeway...no that is paranoia of the conscience showcasing your sanity alongside all of the other break-lights that light up US 60 on a regular basis. This is a different beast entirely. 
It is the paranoia of the *Walking Dad*. You hear a noise, any type of noise really, and your sleepless body enters a state of suspended animation and you awaken to realize you are staring down at this little 4lb baby boy checking to make sure he is breathing. Are you looking close enough? You saw a movement but maybe it was a breeze from the window that you know deep down isn't even open. You start pondering where your wife keeps her makeup compact because you could always hold the mirror portion of it under his nose to confirm and look for condensation. 

You pick him up out of his crib ever so gently and suddenly remember that "project" in middle school where they made you take the egg home to simulate caring for a baby and how you dropped yours when getting off the bus after school that day. So you want to hold him as tightly as possible but then you remember the passage in "Of Mice and Men" where Lennie learns of his own strength while petting a puppy so you decide to carry him like you are an accomplished cat burglar stealing the crown jewels or at least how you imagine a cat burglar would carry something so precious.

The next thing you know he has a clean diaper and you are telling him stories about your childhood and answering his imaginary questions like only a sleep deprived parent can do. Still, he makes for a good conversation so you ramble on because, let's face it, he's not going to tell you to stop. If anything he'll yawn from boredom and you'll yawn back because you're running on two hours of sleep. Then you get to feed him and worry that every noise he makes while drinking from the bottle is some type of sign that he's choking or having problems. In reality he is just being adorable but the only sane thing awake right now is the dog and she'll only tell you if she has to poop or wants to play so you're pretty much left to your own demons at this point. 

His diaper is changed, he's been fed (and probably already dirtying the new diaper) when you realize it is time that you try to fall back to sleep..at least until you hear a grunt or a coo through the baby monitor and freak out again. When you wake up two hours later to feed him and change him again you look in the mirror at the monster staring back at you. Eyes red and barely opening surrounded by dark sunken circles. You are leaking fluids from your nose thanks to allergies and you walk ever so slowly out of the bedroom dragging your feet every step of the way groaning thanks to the sinus headache and realization that you really have to pee but don't have the energy to walk back to the bathroom. You've become a zombie..a paranoid zombie..a member of the *Walking Dad*. 

Hollywood has it all wrong. You don't have to be bitten by a zombie to become one- I was attacked by adorable, killed by cuteness and am brought back to life every time those big eyes stare up at me. 

I am the Walking Dad.

Former lawyer turned sane citizen, voice actor and fledgling dad Ed Elkins has been quickly humbled by the birth of his first child, Connor. Born at only 33 weeks and just less than 4 pounds, Connor spent only two weeks in the NICU before being released. For more information about Ed you can visit his website at edelkins.com.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate Review

Sometimes there is nothing more exciting then watching a 3 year old get excited about his favorite characters. When the show starts and Mickey bursts out onto the ice, his face lights up, his mouth opens wide and an uncontrolled squeal escapes his mouth. I could believe how happy that made me. Almost to tears, I clap along and act like a child myself in the hopes I will make his enjoyment better.

The night started rough because it was just me and my four kids. Recently, my wife has moved to New Jersey with the hopes of finding a better job while we stay behind to finish the school year. This has, of course, put a lot of stress on all of us. This was a chance for us to leave the house and forget, just for a moment, that mom wasn't around. 

We had pretty good seats so I was happy that I wouldn't have to worry about the kids not being able to see. When the lights went out you could hear their excitement. All four of them were screaming with wonder and as soon as the light came on and the show began you could see the shear happiness on their faces. They weren't weren't concerned with whether ice skating was lame or for girls they were in love with the show no matter what. 

A few highlights from the show were the surprises. The Halloween bit was fun and a good introduction to The Nightmare Before Christmas for my kids. My favorite was the Lilo & Stitch beach scene. Really fun and the kids loved seeing stitch playing around. We all loved the fire dancing they did and it just completely blew us away.  I think the kids favorite part was when the characters from Toy Story came out. There was so much going on and I could go on all day about how cool it was but I don't have the time.

If you want to catch the show at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan you have until Sunday after that they will be headed to

As a special promotion to my readers Disney on Ice is offering a discount on tickets.
Used the Code: 18MOM to get tickets for only $18!!
Just use this link to make your purchase and to see if you have any shows near you!
Disclaimer: Valid on the $26 and $20 price levels only.  Not valid with any other offer or discount.  Must purchase via ticketmaster.com.  Limit of 8 tickets per order.  

Please thank them and let them know Geek Daddio sent you:
Facebook: Disney On Ice
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce

Here are some photos of our visit:

Disclosure: FELD Entertainment provided my family with tickets in exchange for this post.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My First Nephew, Kienen

This past week has been a hard one in the dad blogger world. It seems so many guys have been sharing their story of loss like Tommy Riles has or their near loss like Aaron Gouveia did. Having read all these, I was sad to see them because each time it reminded me of my nephew. My sister has always had trouble getting pregnant so when she was blessed with a little boy in her future we were all happy for her. I was only recently married myself and had no wish for any kids; I did have a daughter at the time I wasn't really able to see her much and hadn't been touched by the "baby bug".

The thought of being an uncle scared me. I feared I would have to hold him and risk dropping him. The pressure was too much for me and I just shut down. I had essentially decided (without my wife's knowledge) that I really didn't want any more kids. Things were going pretty good for my sister but one day at around 25 weeks, I believe, her water broke. I stayed away from the hospital for the most part because I honestly believed it would all be OK. I have always felt, "these things can happen, but not to us". I truly believed that everything would be alright because we are good people. And everything will turn out right when you believe it...right?

On January 29th, Kienan was born at 25 weeks of gestation. I didn't want to go to the hospital, but I sucked it up and went to be there for my sister. I clung to that belief that it would all be alright. I kept telling myself to have faith because that is all you need and things will be right. When I got to the hospital the room we were in was full of hope. Hope that this would all be fine and 18 years later we would be at his graduation thinking how crazy it was that we almost lost him. We all believed it but you could see the truth behind our eyes. You could see it when the nurses came in. You could see it when the doctor explained his odds. And most importantly you could see it in my sister's tears.

I remember being allowed to see him in the NICU. He was so tiny, I could have held him in both my hand with room to spare. I had never seen anything so small in my life. His diaper looked like a giant sized diaper even though it was smaller than my fist. His little eyes shiny and beautiful and I swear he was looking at me as if to say, "I can't wait to meet you, Uncle Mike". His body was covered in bruises from the birth and he was so fragile we weren't allowed to hold him. After 10 minutes of standing in a room full of sadness, I had to leave. I went back into the room and hugged my sister. We left and went home. For the rest of the day I was a shell that kept repeating, "It will be alright. It will be alright."

That night my mom called me and told me we lost him. He was barely 2 days old. I stayed strong all night and for most of the day. We went to the hospital and I was sure to stay strong and not cry. After all I am a man and I must keep my emotions to myself. I need to be strong for my sister...Right? After we left the hospital we went out to eat. I was quiet while my mom and wife discussed what they would do for the funeral, I think. Honestly, I don't remember what was said, my faith in life and God had just been shattered. As we got into the car to go home I told my wife to drive. I could feel myself getting sadder with each minute. As soon as we got on the highway I gave in. I don't think I stopped crying for 2 days.

I know the pain I was feeling was nothing compared to my sisters or even my moms. But it hurt me that I would not get to be an uncle. I wanted to be the uncle that would always be there. Be there to baby sit and be there to take him to baseball games. Be there in high school when his first girlfriend dumps him and he is embarrassed to talk to his parents about it. Be there when he graduates. When he gets married. Has his own kids. It was then that I realized I want to be a dad...not an uncle. That was when I decided to be have kids with my wife. I immediately stepped up for my own daughter and after talking with my wife we decided to have our first kids. 9 months later Liam was born, 17 months later Jude was born then 21 months after that Ben was born. With every birth I am reminded of Kienan. I see him in every one of my kids’ faces.

Sometimes, I feel guilty that I have had 3 boys that have all been healthy and that my sister hasn't been lucky. But I push that down and am thankful for what I have been blessed with. For if it was not for the pain of losing our little angel I would never have become the father I am today. His legacy in alive in me and when you see me being a good father and showing my kids the love they deserve it is all because of Kienan.

This story doesn't end badly for my sister. She got pregnant again and, after a difficult time, she gave birth to John who I was lucky to have been able to babysit yesterday. He is one and a half now and when he went to leave he turned back around and gave me a hug. I may not have been able to be that great uncle for Kienan, but at least I can honor him through John.   

Monday, March 3, 2014

Reward Yourself

As an at home parent it is sometimes hard to find ways to bring in money. I do a little on the side to pay for child support for my daughter but just don't have the time to really do a part-time job. To do a little extra I take part in a few different reward programs that will give me some extra cash to spend.

Disclaimer: In this post I will be including links that will give me credit or cash for referring. I would appreciate it if you want to try out a service or app that you would use my link or code but I fully understand if you don't want to. The point of this post is to highlight different options out there that I find fruitful. 

I try to stay away from the "do this and be entered into a contest" type of rewards simply because the odds just are not good enough to justify my time. I like to actually see some "points" that I know will eventually get me a gift card or some item I find useful.

Here are some sites and Apps that give me some real money to spend:

I really like Ibotta. For any parent that does the majority of the shopping this app really delivers. Before you plan your shopping list look on ibotta and see what deals they have and plan to buy the one they list. Once you buy them and get home just scan the items listed, do a couple small tasks that take no more than 20 seconds, scan the receipt with your phone camera and hit submit. So far after only casually (casually meaning only buy stuff I need) using it for about 6 months I have made $20. They have many great stores and they are always expanding. Recently they started offering different restaurants and other non grocery places. 

Receipt Hog
This is a new one for me. It works differently then ibotta but holds to the same idea of scanning receipts. I took the same receipt I scanned in for ibotta and it rewarded me with 15 coins. Eventually those coins will add up and I will have enough to get cash or an Amazon card. I will update this with more thought once I have used it more.

This one is my favorite. I know what you are saying: "Really? Bing...Nobody likes Bing." You would be right of course...Nothing beats Google but the rewards are worth it. I have used it for about 9 months and have made over $100 dollars in Tango Cards (Which can be traded into Amazon cards with no fee.) I really stand behind this and if you really don't like using Bing then just pop in for 10 minutes everyday and click around until you get all your points for the day. 

And here are the ones I use that will earn points based on stuff I already buy:

My Coke Rewards
I have been using My Coke Rewards for a long time. Pretty much since they first started them. When I first started I was delivering newspapers full time so when trash day came and people recycled their coke boxes with the codes still on them I profited. In the first year, I had earned a nice tote back I still use as a diaper bag, a $50 Adidas gift card, an Adidas workout shirt and a bunch of free 12 packs of coke. No adays we try not to drink much pop and I don't deliver a full paper route on trash days so the points trickle in here or there. I keep it up because I know eventually I will get something. I have to be careful because if I don't enter in a code every 90 days I will lose all my points.

Just like My Coke Rewards but featuring every product from Kellogg's. Go through your cabinet and fridge I am willing to bet you have a ton of Kellogg's products that have codes on them. These I have been saving up and have over 8000 points right now. I love this one because a couple times a year they do double points days. I will save up all my points and cash them in on that day. Of course, like Coke I have to enter one in every once in a while to keep the points.

This one of my favorites. Not only do you get codes from any Disney movie you buy but you also can get points from movie tickets and music CDs. I haven't cashed in anything yest but having been casually using it for a long time I have enough to get some decent BluRays. And if you have any movies sitting around with the codes unused then you might want to so this oon because until the end of March they have special deal: Input 3 codes and get a free BluRay combo set. We choose Cars.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why I Do This

I want to share this with everyone. Not for the awesome praise I received from my aunt but to highlight why I am involved with At-Home Dads groups and why I write my blog. Honestly, this is why I do what I do.

"I will also take this time to share with you how proud I am of the dad you have become. I have to admit when your mom told me you were quitting your job to stay at home with the kids. I was like What!!! He is a man and father he needs to support his family. I did not understand nor did I want to. But now looking back I have to admit that was probably one of the best choices you could have made. You have grown so much as a father and a person since you have become a stay at home dad. You have 2 maybe 3 more years to be a stay at home daddy before Ben heads off to school, than I want you to get out and get a job: ) lol. You are building fond memories with your children and they will always be thankful for your roll as a father who took care of his kids and wife in a way that no other man can say he did. I now find myself defending stay at home father's instead of thinking of them as just being lazy. By watching you i have changed the way I think in so many ways myself. I am proud of you."

Her comment reflects what all At-Home Dads are trying to highlight that it is OK for a dad to stay home for his family. Yes, I will eventually get a job and hopefully a decent cereer but she is right these memoires will last for ever and I know I will look back on them fondly. And hopefully, so will my kids.

Also...As an at home parent it's nice to get this kind of praise.

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again: Disney On Ice Giveaway.

The month of March is full of thing people look forward to. For College students it's Saint Patrick's Day and Mardi Gras. For the Polish it's Fat Tuesday while Sports nuts have March Madness. For my wife it's all about the Shamrock Shake at McDonalds but for me it's Disney on Ice here in Metro Detroit. I have attended at least two Disney on Ice performances in the past with my daughter who is now 11. The past couple years I haven't had the chance to go but now that my kids are all 3 and up I think I can trust to take them without pulling out the hair I wish I had.

I have never kept it a secret about my love for figure skating. Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated by the sport. I used to follow it religiously in high school but now a days I only pay attention every 4 years; during the Winter Olympics. These yearly shows allow me to enjoy a sport I don't normally get to see live. Combine that with the fact it is Disney and kid friendly, meaning they don't have to like figure skating to enjoy the show, then you have a fun time to be had. 

On March 19th thru the 21st, Disney and FELD Entertainment will be bringing the Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate show to the Palace of Auburn Hills right near me. It sounds like it will be fun with a number if our household favorite characters performing. Here is the description: 

"It’s one colossal party on ice, with all your favorite Disney friends! Join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as they celebrate a Very Merry Unbirthday Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter; Mardi Gras with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen; a Royal Valentine’s Day Ball with the Disney Princesses; a Hawaiian luau with Lilo & Stitch; a winter wonderland with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear; a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains and more in a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the globe. Come join the party when this spectacular ice show visits your hometown!" 

As a special promotion to my readers Disney on Ice is offering a discount on tickets.
Used the Code: 18MOM to get tickets for only $18!!
Just use this link to make your purchase and to see if you have any shows near you!
Disclaimer: Valid on the $26 and $20 price levels only.  Not valid with any other offer or discount.  Must purchase via ticketmaster.com.  Limit of 8 tickets per order.  

Please thank them over at:
Facebook: Disney On Ice
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce

Now for the fun part!!!! The great people in charge of Disney on Ice, FELD Entertainment are going to give one of you lucky readers a set of 4 tickets to see Disney on Ice at the Palace of Auburn Hills with your family!!!

How do you win you may ask? Well...Fill out the form below.

Also if you do not want to like the pages that is required or use your Facebook account just leave a comment with your name and email and I will add you to the list

Disclosure: FELD Entertainment is providing my family with tickets in exchange for this post.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Don't Shame the Girl, Shame the Parents

We have all seen it before. Some young girl wants to be famous and gets a music video made. It becomes viral for being terrible and the internet blows up. People start laughing and pointing at the young girl and in some cases even threatening the child. We first really saw it with Rebecca Black and her song "Friday" but now we have hit new low with "Shush Up" by Alison Gold.

In the video we see this 11 year old dancing around sexually in tight little outfits, being put on death row and even a few really creepy parts where she is upset about her adult boyfriend being locked up...Or something. I don't know I had to keep looking away out of fear the FBI would be knocking down my door for looking at this.

It is very easy to see this and go right for the girl but if you look deeper into what this is all about we should not be mad at her. This gem was created by Patrice Wilson of ARK Music Factory. What this guy does is charge a fee to write, produce and record a video for anyone that is willing to pay $2,000 to $4,000. Mind you, they get no rights to the song or video therefore Patrice Wilson is the one profiting from this garbage. In this case, much like the "Friday" video, we are seeing the parents paying for this man to do this for their child. 

What are these parents thinking! It is our job to protect our children and make sure they aren't presented in a way that will put them in danger. This video is a not only over-sexualizing a child but it is putting her in a position to be drooled over by pedophiles and ridiculed by the rest of the sane population. How can you protect you kids if you are paying someone to make something like this. I understand the girl probably is asking for this to be done but this is where you have to step in and say, "No" or "If you want but it has to be appropriate for your age." If they still want to make a video like this why must it be posted to Youtube? Can't you produce a song and video without releasing it to the public to mock.

To the parents of Alison Gold I say this: Take a good look at this video. See how the world is seeing your daughter in this video. Is that what you really want for her? I can't believe any parent would. I have an 11 year old the thought of her doing this make me taste vomit at the back of my throat. If you don't do something now and learn to tell them, "No." I guarantee you that you will regret it later if you don't.

Update: It would seem the video was taken down. Be happy you didn't get to see it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Enjoy The Silence

Here I am sitting at my computer, the sun is bright and the 13 inches of snow outside my door is shining in every window. The only sound to be heard is the TV playing an episode of Octanauts and the occasional laugh and happy noises of a fidgeting 2 year old. My 3 oldest are not home because school is finally back in session. We had great Christmas break that wasn't to crazy and the weekend after January 1st we were all ready for school to start. Liam was ready to start his Violin lessons again, Jude wanted to see his friends again and Gabi was looking forward to having here holiday party that got set aside when school was canceled on the Friday before break. Then it started to snow; and snow and snow and snow. We looked at maps showing what areas in Michigan were going to get the most snow and found our house; right on the inner edge of the giant red dot showing what area would get 12+ inches of snow. I knew right then school would have to be canceled. Everything was going good until the Monday night. At the time, around 9:30pm, we had around 8 inches and the cable and internet went out. I thought, "OK. It should be back on in the morning and we will be fine." It wasn't back on in the morning. In fact it didn't come back on until 1pmWednesday. Tuesday was rough because the kids didn't want to watch any of the DVDs we had and just wanted to toss the toys around instead of actually play with them. By Wednesday they lost all interest in TV, until the cable came back later on, unfortunately they had already been terrible monsters fighting and screaming at every chance. But I managed to pull though, I got the house cleaned, laundry done and even had all the toys sorted and put away before Silva even got home. This, of course, means that now the house is mostly clean. In fact I feel like I don't know what to do. I'm trying to avoid things that will suck up all my time and make it go by fast but all I want to do is sleep. But it would be wrong of me to nap while my 2 year old is running around...Right? I guess I might as well just enjoy the silence..