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 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 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

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  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.