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Dry Cupcakes with Excessive Frosting

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My wife came home the other day after picking our kids up from school and she walked in the front door with a flabbergasted look on her face. Dropping all of their bags and lunchboxes on the floor, she held up a handful of envelopes. Looking at me she said, “You have got to be kidding me….four more!”

Horrified, I smashed my face into the pillows on the couch and screamed “NO NO NO!” 

Four more birthday invitations from the kids at school. Dear GAWD no!

A couple of days prior our son came home with 3 other invites, and last month we had to go to 2 birthday parties. Add all of these wonderful party passes up and our weekends are suddenly being consumed with shindigs for goofy classmates that we’ve never even heard of. Parents, are you reading this nodding your heads because you’re experiencing the same frustration? The constant flow of colorful card stock inviting excited peers and annoyed parents to an afternoon of luke-warm pizza, and cupcakes with excessive frosting.

Invites

The invites that are surprising me the most are the ones that are coming from our daughter's pre-school friends. Tiny little 3 and 4 years olds pining for attention at their Frozen themed festivities - and yes they’re ALL Frozen themed. All of them.

We’ve definitely noticed that birthday invites are starting to trend younger and younger.  My guess is not at the request of the little pip-squeaks either, but rather Pinterest parents competing to outdo each other in the world of competitive celebrations. Gone are the days of waiting until your child is pencils deep into elementary school before group birthday parties start - nowadays parents get bombarded by bombastic bashes for little blobs that still poo their pants. Talk about excessive frosting.

Fun right?

And let’s talk cost - start adding up gifts for these sweet little angel children.  Twenty bucks a pop seems to be the going rate for a gift (more if you want to look like the top parent at the party). Add that up over our kids 2 classes and you get roughly 35 gifts that we have to supply (be boo bop boo - math) you’re looking at $700 bucks a year to bestow presents to kids that your child probably doesn’t even like!

My buddy Dom from the radio show came up with a GREAT suggestion on how to alleviate some of the stress and headaches of having to go to so many of these delightful events. I’m totally on board with his recommendation, how about creating 2 massive birthday celebrations that encompass all of the students at once? One for spring and summer birthdays and then one later in the year for fall and winter babies. How great is that idea!? You’re able to knock out a huge chunk of kids all at once - then you’re only ruining two Saturdays a year instead of a couple months worth. And the presents? Either cancel the gifts altogether or maybe adopt this “fiver party” idea that I’ve seen some news outlets covering. In lieu of material gifts, guests can bring five dollar bills to give to the birthday boy/girl. The child can then take their haul from the 10 kids they invited to their party and buy a $50 gift of their choosing - or save the money! The kids learn a little money management and there is far less stress on the gift giver and a whole lot less money spent on these joyous celebrations. You dig it?


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The Frightful, Fitful Fives

Forget the terrible twos and the horrible threes – let’s talk about the little monster that appears when your child turns 5!

The clock struck midnight a few weeks ago and the transformation began. Smoke came billowing out of my son’s room accompanied by flashes of lighting and a thunderous roar. Within seconds a switch had been flipped and we found ourselves living with a pint sized jerk-store. Happy 5th birthday, son.

Our once sweet little boy who was known for his nurturing and caring heart had now turned into an opinionated, sarcastic, back talking little turd!

Are other parents going through this? Where did we go wrong? How did this change happen so fast!? I thought boys didn’t start becoming hormonal nightmares until their teenage years.

The worst part about this negative attitude transformation is that it’s not just confined to our home where we can control it a little easier. We cautiously venture out into the world to run errands just waiting for our little temper tantrum time bomb to explode. What horrific scene will he cause in public today? At grocery stores, at the park, in the mall… nowhere is safe. Where can we hide? We’ve even had an instructor at Reid’s rock climbing class say to him, “You need to chill out, dude”.

Oh, and this is new and fun too – if our little back-talker doesn’t get his way he has no problem throwing himself on the ground with clenched fists and flailing limbs, rockin’ moves that you wouldn’t even see in a Zumba class. The words “NO” and “STOP IT” just don’t seem to work anymore. “QUIET” and “STOP CRYING” won’t even get a reaction. And don’t even bother trying “GO TO YOUR ROOM.” He laughs them all off with a sarcastic little sneer. Our punishments lost all effectiveness the moment he took a bite of his 5th birthday cake.

To combat mister whiny-pants’ new style our parental reactions have had to become a little more creative. We’ve had to adapt to new punishment tactics. Taking away some of this favorite things have seemed to be a worthy violation of his little world. Threats of no more outdoor swimming pool time or no more Paw Patrol on TV have seemed to work just a bit. And if we really need to, we lay the hammer down threatening to – gasp…. take away the Mac ‘n Cheese! Nooooo!

Another great tool we’ve found that has helped curtail the nightmarish behavior is the chore chart!  We have a couple posted on the wall in our kitchen that have really helped with the behaviors and responsibilities that we expect around the house.

Simple tasks like feeding the dog and picking up after yourself now get rewarded with star stickers and smiley faces that can be rewarded with time at the water park or maybe a little toy the next time we’re at Walmart. So far the chore chart has been working – so if you’ve been experiencing some of the same problems that I have, I highly recommend it. It’s a nice visual diagram that your kid can look at and they can see how their good behavior is paying off! You can find a ton of premade templates online if you’re stumped as how to make one. Hope it works for you as much as it has for us – the only downside is that I don’t get all that extra Mac ‘n Cheese we have laying around the house anymore!


Nurturers and Knuckle Heads

I was skimming the website whattoexpect.com a few days ago for some parenting advice, and I came across an interesting article on different parenting styles.  The blog regurgitated some chatter from The American Academy of Pediatrics, talking about how dads can be a positive influence on their children’s development. Citing research that said "when kids bond with their dads they feel more secure and curious, and less likely to lose it when they get frustrated."

I can't agree more and I've certainly noticed this with my kids. Having a more laid back attitude has translated into more laughter and fewer psycho kid meltdowns. That's what dads are here for- we're here to break mom's rules, build pillow forts, have shopping cart races, and ignore the recommend age limits on Nerf guns.  Babies love those, right?

Every Friday I try to sneak out of the radio station a little early to pick up my son Reid from school.  It's my little slice of father son time that I really enjoy since my wife gets this duty the rest of the week. Reid loves it too because it's the one time of the week he can talk ol' dad into cheating on moms healthy life style. Instead of carrot sticks and hummus for lunch, we hit Micky D's for milkshakes and Happy Meals! Much to my wife's chagrin we arrive home with smiles on our faces and trans fats in our systems. Everything in moderation I try to explain, ignoring her soapbox lectures of a balanced diets and caloric intakes. Mom knows best - but dad knows how to have fun!

Looking back on my own youth mom was always the nurturing and caring one. Quick to help with homework, making sure you had your nightly bath, and she always had Kleenex and Band-Aids in her purse for boogers and bruises.  Dad however, encouraged rough-housing, problem solving, and farmer blows. An oddly delicate parental balance every child should embrace.

 And then there are the stories...dads tell the best goofy stories! Eye rolls from my wife are a daily occurrence as I summon up the most ridiculous anecdotes just to mess with my kids.  Dads have an incredible ability to look you straight in the eye and fill your head with total BS. I think we all have little stories of what our dads did to us, or told us when we were growing up. I know that these tall tales helped shape my sense of humor as an adult - allowing me to learn not to take life, and myself so seriously.

A friend of mine has a great story from when he was little - all the neighborhood kids would go running outside in the summer when they heard the ice-cream man rounding the corner with that familiar sugar induced music belting from the speakers. He never understood why all the kids would get so excited when they heard that music, what was the big deal? His dad had pulled him aside one afternoon and told him that when you hear the ice-cream music it meant that the truck was OUT of ice-cream. To this day he still gets a chuckle every time he hears that goofy music, that dang tuck is ALWAYS out of ice-cream!

I'll also never forget the years that I started losing teeth. I was always so worried that I would swallow a tooth as it was becoming loose. I didn't fear that I would miss out on a couple easy bucks from the Tooth Fairy, I was instead freaked out that I would grow teeth inside me! My dad had told me that if I were to swallow my loose teeth in the middle of the night, I would grow an entire mouth inside my stomach, and that I would be able to chew my food twice! You can imagine the wide eyed look I must have given him, totally freaked out...I can't WAIT to use the same story on my son, fully expecting the protective glares from the misses.

Parenting is a trip. Here's a salute to my fellow parents out there with their own unique parenting styles, all of us wondering if we're doing it right. Here's to the nurturers and the knuckle heads - each bringing a very important aspect to your child's life. Have fun, make mistakes, make your kids eat their veggies - and make sure they always chew them with both of their mouths. 


Zombie Parents

I LOVE technology. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always been a techno-nerd, scooping up all the latest tech toys, video game systems, car stereos and the fastest computers! The more buttons and touch screens I have, the happier I am!

We live in a pretty cool world right now where information is just a few taps and swipes away. I’ve ordered a pizza from my iPad while sitting on my back porch. I’ve purchased a car from Illinois while sitting at the breakfast table. And I’ve planned a Minions-themed birthday party for my son with a few clicks on Amazon. Free 2-day shipping – SCORE!

We’re pretty blessed to have all of these conveniences and I can’t imagine having to go back to phone books, encyclopedias and a world without GPS. Yuck.

Now with all this gizmo-gushing aside, I want to explore something with you that my wife and I have both noticed and it breaks our hearts: the darker side of technology that is ruining our relationships with our children.

A quick societal glance reveals a multitude of zombie parents looking down at their smart phones while their kids are vying for their attention. Mouth-breathing with the occasional courtesy grunt, looking at the world through a tiny screen rather than focusing on the enjoyment in their kids’ faces. It’s an observation I have made at numerous locations. Below are a couple of examples:

We like to take our kids to a gym class at our local rec center. A good 30 kids and their parents show up to burn off some energy on trampolines, foam pits and jungle gyms. Parents are encouraged to participate with their kids helping them develop good physical habits. BUT, if you were to do a quick 360 of the gym you’d see parents looking down buried in their phones ignoring the requests from the kids to come run around and play with them. No conversation, no laughter, no encouragement. Sad.

Another observation that has really stuck with me was a time we took our son over to Yogurtland for a little frozen yogurt treat. Every kid loves a trip out with mom and dad for some frozen sugary delight, right?! (Side note: the red velvet frozen yogurt is to die for,  I highly recommend it). Anyway, we gathered our treats and snagged a table near some other parents. While we tucked our phones away and focused on conversation, you guessed it – all the other tables around us had children happily experiencing brain freeze while their parents were neck down updating statuses and scrolling through the Twitterverse. One little girl said “mommy” about 15 times before mom actually looked up to acknowledge what her little girl had to say. It really did hurt my heart to see these kids being ignored by their parents.

I don’t want to turn this blog post into a complain-fest, I just want parents to be aware of how we’re interacting with our kids. I’m afraid of the future and how this is going to affect them when they become adults. Will they have the proper skills to carry on conversations? Will they have good physical habits and be able to excel in the workplace? I’m really beginning to wonder if they won’t. Take some time to think about the QUALITY time you’re spending with your kiddos. Some of this time you’ll never ever get back. Take an hour to focus on them, make conversation and make eye contact for goodness sake. Tuck the technology away and be present, because if you don’t… I’ll be silently judging you from the corner of the ice cream shop.


Featured in Colorado Parent Magazine April 2016

Mom of the Year

We recently had a topic on the morning show that we called “mom of the year,” referring in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way to the one time that you totally failed at being a parent!  Whether it was just pure laziness on your part, maybe a slip of the tongue letting a curse word fly in front of your 3-year-old, or taking your kids to the grocery store with messed up hair in their PJs because it was just too much work to get them dressed.  It was a great topic and pretty darn funny when the calls started rolling in! This parenting gig is pretty exhausting and sometimes no matter how hard we try to be the perfect parent, things are inevitably going to go wrong.

One of the best calls we received was from a woman who was busting herself because she let her daughter have numerous bowls of super sugary cereal for dinner, all while she sat on the couch and had a bottle of wine! She just wasn’t in the mood to force her daughter to eat her vegetables that night.  Don’t feel bad moms, not every dinner can have the complete food pyramid in it. Consider that little Pinot Grigio vacation on the couch a much needed mental health break.

My sweet little Grandma has a great story that she loves to tell as well. When my dad was a baby, he fell asleep in the middle of her bed. My grandma tiptoed out of the room to get a couple chores done thinking that he would be perfectly safe. About 10 minutes later she came back into the room and my dad had vanished!  Where did the baby go? Panicked, she heard a little whimpering, and went closer to the bed to investigate. Turns out my dad decided to roll on the bed and slid right down into the little crack between the mattress and the wall and was stuck like a little cork.  Total “mom of the year” moment that my grandma laughs about now although it was really frightening at the time.

And I would totally kick myself if I didn’t have a chance to bust my wife on something as well. Our own little 10-month-old, Lyla, is in a rolling mood of her own. Not yet able to crawl, she rolls all around the floor to get where she needs to go. She was laying in the middle of our living room floor nice and safe when my wife decided to zip into the kitchen to make her a bottle. During the couple minutes alone, Lyla decided to roll over to our dog who was chewing on a rawhide bone. She scooped it away from him and then proceeded to place the slimy, gooey, chewed up end into her own mouth and began suckling away. My wife came back in horrified not knowing what to do. She tried her best to rinse out Lyla’s mouth finally chalking the incident up to a “mom of the year” moment.

The nasty dog bone mishap happened a couple weekends ago and so far Lyla seems to be doing just fine. Although, for some reason every time the doorbell rings she starts barking and she won’t stop dragging her butt across the floor! Weird.


Featured In Colorado Parent Magazine Feb 2016