Nurturers and Knuckle Heads

I was skimming the website 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 

Sticky Situation

The one thing that I’ve noticed about having kids is that everything is constantly sticky! Everything. I’m not sure where all this kid goo comes from, but somehow it magically appears on every surface in my house, car and yard.

While reaching for the bathroom door knob the other day I was greeted, at first, with something that felt slick and then halfway into the turn…boom – stuck. I hit some sort of honey substance that glued my hand directly to the knob. Once I pried my digits off, I gave it the ol’ sniff test, open and closed my fist a few times, then vigorously washed my hands twice trying to get it all off. I have no idea what this mystery substance was, but just thinking about it kinda gives me the dry heaves. YUCK!

The surface of my kitchen table is a total science experiment. At the right angle and with the correct lighting you can see a beautiful ecosystem of leftover chicken nugget finger prints complete with a peanut butter valley and the small town of Old Ranch Dressingville. Not even the strongest Lysol wipe can take on the Rorschach test that is my table. I fear we may have to burn the table when we’re finished with it.

A place that gives me great pain to see dirty is my truck. I’m a bit of a gear-head and for the years before kids, my Zen place was to retreat to the garage and detail our vehicles. They were always spotless and they smelled great! The carpets were always shampooed and the inside gleamed with Armor All. Well, as you can probably guess…not anymore. There is every substance known to man smeared all over my floor mats and seats. It took me 20 minutes to get out of my car on New Year’s Eve because I was glued to my seat. On hot days a special odor emits from somewhere deep under the back seat – remnants of spilled milk is my guess, a pungent reminder that kids now rule the roost. Luckily though, there is one positive aspect to my messy vehicle. I can rest easy knowing that if I were to ever be stranded in my vehicle during a Colorado snow storm I could survive for easily a week on half -eaten granola bars and spilled Cheerios.

I’ve had to bury many of my OCD tendencies during the transition into family life which has been a real challenge for me. Lots of deep breaths and multiple bottles of hand sanitizer are now a regular part of my world. As I write this post I just spotted my dog running by with a ham sandwich stuck to his side, and I’m not sure what’s on my keyboard but my pinky is stuck to the ppppppp pp ppppppppp pppppppppppppppppppppp.

Featured in Colorado Parent Magazine Jan 2016

Spoiled Infant

I like to think of myself as the Mack Daddy of merriment when it comes to Christmas – the Super Bowl of all holidays. I don’t wanna brag, but I know my way around the bottom of a tree. However, this year my wife is challenging my gift giving abilities with a disagreement over the amount of gifts that are appropriate for an infant.

Nicole and I made our way down to the basement the other night to sort our way through the bags and bags of holiday gifts that we had been gathering over the past couple of months. We were elf-deep in presents that would soon be wrapped and slid under the tree just waiting to bring a little materialistic holiday joy  to our family members.

As we started sorting through the gifts for our two kiddos, my wife noticed that we had way more presents for our 4-year-old son Reid than we did for our new little candy cane, Lyla, who, let me remind you, is only 7 months old. Nicole pulled out her little gingerbread man covered notepad that she’s been keeping track of gifts on and made a little scribble that said we needed to go shopping for additional items for Lyla.

Then came the lecture that we needed to keep things equal. We didn’t want to show favoritism and we needed to make sure Reid observed Lyla getting the same avalanche of gifts that he was getting.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa  baby, I exclaimed! Pump those breaks honey child – do we really need to make things equal this year?” I personally don’t think we need to go out and heat up those credit cards any more than we already have. Our adorable little blob (and I mean that in the most sincere way) doesn’t really know what’s going on. Lyla would be just as happy with a shoe box filled with tissue paper this year. Or here’s a great idea, let’s just wrap up some of the toys she already has and give them to her! She’ll never know the diff. Let’s be honest, we’ll probably be spending more time pulling wrapping paper out of her mouth this Christmas than playing with new baby toys.

I hope I’m not sounding like a big ol’ Scrooge here, but I’m not fully convinced that spending a ton of money on a 7-month-old for Christmas is very practical. We presented this topic on the morning show and a flood of listener calls came in and they fully agreed with me! Ha ha!  Although yes, we do need to show our son Reid the joy of giving and that we love Lyla just as much as him, I see no reason why we can’t spend $10 on a box of Gerber baby food, wrap it up and slide it over to her Christmas morning. It would be a nice, practical gift from us that we’ll use anyway, and Ho Ho Ho she gets a nice new, state of the art box to play with! We’ll score a couple great Christmas morning photos of her enjoying her strained peas and sweet potatoes and we won’t be breaking the bank doing so.

Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a couple ounces of delicious prunes and a nice, full diaper.

Featured in Colorado Parent Magazine December 2015