My Alter Ego (Slightly Inflated)

For the past two Halloweens, I dressed as “Superdad”. All night our seven and three year olds called me “Superdad” when they wanted my attention. My ego gained 10 pounds that night.

Things seem to be changing.
For the better.
I was provided the opportunity the past four months to be a stay home dad. I’ve loved every minute of it. Mind you, I equally miss being in the classroom teaching. Staying home as allowed me to play a part stereotypically given to women. I see this when I take our three year old to play group (and occasionally tumblebugs, when it wasn’t cancelled). Moms. It was always moms at the playgroups. Except the past couple years another dad showed up at playgroup with his daughter. Then another dad brought his daughter to tumblebugs.

One day, there was only one mom at tumblebugs with THREE dads!

In just everyday life of getting groceries, running errands, the odd occasion eating out, I’m seeing more and more dads taking an active role. We’re good for more than playing and disciplining. We cook, clean (in my case it’s more like tidying), and herd the kids to bed. The teacher in me appreciates seeing other dads at parent/teacher night at school, too.

Anyway, what made me think of all this (besides seeing the other dad at playgroup) were the commercials on TV. I don’t watch much TV, but when I do I notice the commercials are slightly different. Sure they’re still advertising Tide and Cheerios. However, they’re doing it slightly differently. The tide commercials now feature DADS! They’re either with the mom or on their own, but they are showing doing or helping with the laundry. There’s even one with two men (albeit, not dads) discussing the laundry. And there’s Cheerios. 

My blog site is called “All in a Dad’s Work” because it is how I dad.

How do you dad?
How does your dad dad?
How does your children’s dad dad?

P.S. There would be no Superdad without a Supermom! XOXO

From Us to You


We’re just two days away from Christmas morning. We have two very excited boys nearly bouncing off the walls. It’s tough to not get carried away with them.

Woody and Elfis will make their final appearance of this Christmas season tomorrow. At bedtime on Christmas Eve the boys get to touch their elves. They hug them and kiss them good night and bid them farewell till next year. It makes me a bit sad to see them go, too. The boys love to see what antics the elves get up to. They squeal with laughter that is so fun to hear. Partly because it’s so fun to hear their excitement and partly because it makes me sad to see them sad. Today, the two elves were zip lining across the kitchen and when we weren’t looking, would move to a new spot or pose on the line. The boys were constantly checking and giving us update on their movement. I guess it could be equated to NORAD.

 
 Anyway, I hope you wake to freshly fallen snow. Put on the Christmas music. Gather your family round the tree with its ornaments dangling and its lights twinkling. Sip your hot chocolate/tea/coffee and bask in the excitement that opening gifts brings. Forget the mess. Forget your worries and your troubles and enjoy this magical day. Here’s to you and your loved ones, from all of us. Merry Christmas and I hope the New Year brings, peace, love, joy, good health and lots of wealth!

P.S. For all you folks with kids, I pray your day won’t start too too early!

Dad Hacks for Making Life With Kids a Little Easier

I saw this video the other day of the dad who has to do his daughter’s hair. He came up with a very creative way to get’er done and done quickly (and still look nice and neat). He slipped a hair elastic on the end of a vacuum cleaner hose, sucked up the daughter’s hair and slipped the elastic off the hose and onto her hair. Presto! Perfect ponytail in seconds.

I saw this other video of a dad who put his daughter’s hair up in a bun. However, he did it while she was spinning. He simply gathered up all her hair and told her spin while he held her hair, then clipped it to keep it up. Brilliant!

Then I got to thinking.
Hey, I’ve got my own little hacks that help me survive a day with kids. I have two sons and they both have 1/4 inch hair. No worries there. But I’ve got other ways.

First: Because life with boys is noise with dirt, keeping clean is tough. It’s similar to a running blender with no top. Two boys in the bathroom is no different. The toilet bowl is what, a foot wide? The kids are what, 6 inches from it? How the HELL do they miss? I swear they are in there dancing with their wee willies going off like super soakers. So what did I do? I put a target on the bottom of the bowl for them to aim at. At first, it was a Spiderman band-aid because it was closest sticky thing I could find. It didn’t stick for long. Then I put a real sticker in there thinking that it was good and sticky. It lasted a day (damn Ninja Turtle just couldn’t hang on). Then I found out that my idea wasn’t original. Just Google “toilet targets”. 

 Second: Here’s my next secret:

It is to me what Batman’s grappling hook is to him. It’s my go to tool for nearly everything. Need cut pizza into bite size pieces? Perfect. Need to cut toast into triangles? Perfect. Need to cut a pancake? Perfect. Since it works by applying pressure, the edges usually aren’t ridiculously sharp like on most knives so I’m not so worried about the kids hurting themselves if I leave it out. But the speed at which I get the cutting done with this bad boy resembles that of a Lamborghini! If you have any other uses for this, please let me know!

 
Third: I like to let my boys be as independent as they want to be, provided they clean up their mess afterward (though, who am I kidding, I do most of the cleaning up, not them). So a while back, we were playing bowling and my only job was to be the pin setter. Let me tell ya, it’s not the greatest gig in the world. They knock ’em down, I set ’em up. Repeat a hundred more times. It gets old quick. Then I figured out that I could put tape on the floor where the pins should go and they can stand up their damn pins! Geez. Why did it take me so long to figure this out? Bonus: Sometimes they’ll set them up for me to knock down! Do you have any hacks that allow kids to play independently? 

Fourth: This one is perhaps my favorite because it’s so damn cute and so damn helpful.
Short back-story: In the past couple weeks our three year old has learned to LOVE pushing the shopping cart. He wants to be the driver and he wants to drive’r by himself. But shopping carts are so big he can barely see where he’s going.


Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for this one, as much as I would like to. Wifey, this one’s yours. He has a shopping cart that came with his toy kitchen one Christmas. He loves loading it up and pushing it all over the house. One day recently, he went into the pantry cupboard and loaded his cart with all the canned food (he said it costs three dollars). That’s when the idea landed and twice we’ve gone shopping and twice he’s pushed his little cart. He gets so excited that he’ll take his cart out and put it in the car while we’re still getting ready to leave! It’s enough to make me look forward to grocery shopping! Do you have any grocery store hacks to make the shopping a bit easier?

Where There’s Family, There is Food

 My friend Tracey over at NoPageLeftBlank wrote about her Christmas Eve and Christmas day meals. Now I’m hungry. Well, not so much hungry as I am craving. My mouth is watering anticipating all the food I will consume during those two festive days. And since my running has been slack, I’m going to have up my New Year’s resolutions.

Where there’s family, there’s food. And plenty of it.

I’m fortunate in the fact that the majority of the food I’ll eat won’t be prepared by me (or my dear Wifey, for that matter). We’ll be spending Christmas Eve at Wifey’s dad and step-mom’s (aka Guppie and Nanny). I heard there will be pizza fingers. Pizza toppings in egg rolls and deep fried. I could eat my weight in them! Naturally, there will be the usual turkey supper. All the fixings will be included – stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies and gravy over all of it. There’s always dessert from the Cottage Bakery… peanut butter cookies, triple chocolate brownies, etc… I’ll be sure wear pants with an elastic waistband. Don’t want to be popping any buttons.

After supper we’ll exchange gifts. The kids, already giddy with excitement they’re ready to explode, become even more so when they find out they get open a few presents BEFORE Christmas morning. I get as excited as they do. I just don’t bounce around the house like they do.

Anyway, back to food. Did I mention the pizza fingers? I did. Okay.

Then comes Christmas morning. We skip breakfast. Sort of. I make “Grands” cinnamon rolls first thing in the morning when the kids wake up (usually around 6 or 6:30). We snack on those until all the gifts are opened. Then comes the pancakes and bacon. Wifey makes the best bacon. The only problem is she won’t let us touch it until she’s cooked ALL of it. It boggles my mind how she can stockpile cooked bacon.

Later in the day we head over  to her mom’s and step-dad’s (aka Nanny and Pop) for another turkey supper. Again, fixings included- more stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies and gravy over all of it. Dessert will probably be apple pie and ice cream. By this time I’ve become so fat and lazy I move like Jabba the Hutt.

If only my parents weren’t 1,100 miles away (in Maryland) we could fit in a third Christmas supper! Back in the day, our family always gathered at “The Farm” (my grandparent’s) for, you guessed it, turkey supper. Enough to feed 12-15 people with tons of leftovers! That always brings back memories of green bean casserole. I think I’ll have to make it this year.

Eat. Drink. Be merry. Never a problem around here!

A Blank Page

 One day a little boy watched an artist sit and stare at massive stone.
The next week the little boy came back to see the block but saw a stone lion in its place.
He asked the artist, “How did you know that was in there”?

This blank page stares at me. It dares me to blink.
It’s open to anything. Well, almost anything.
It’s restricted to the characters my keyboard can create.
Or picture I can insert.
Or video I can embed.
Or link I can attach.
Oh! The possibilities!

Writers blocks are not road blocks. Not a dam damming water.
But a block.
A chunk of wood.
Of stone, marble or granite.
Waiting to be carved.
Blank. Yet, something hides within. Patiently waiting to be discovered.
Uncovered. Set free.

I’ve got a block and I contemplate its destiny.
Its fate.
What do I write when I don’t know what to write?
I
type a letter
                  which becomes a word
                                                       a sentence
                                                                        a paragraph
                                                                                           a story.

And yes.
I sometimes see my kids as blocks

blank pages,
unwritten stories,

Sometimes I like what I write.
But I often need to edit.

Woody and Elfis

 

 As I said earlier, our Elf gets his own post.
Three years ago an elf came to our house to watch over Crash and Bang and report their behavior and attitudes to Santa.
 Well, this year I need say our ELVES. Yes, our faithful shelf elf Woody brought along a friend to help keep watch. His first night here, we didn’t settle on a name. He was called Chuckles, Elfie, Elvis, and Elfis. His second day brought instruction to name him and he became Elfis. Now every time I see him all I can think of is “Blue Christmas“.

Now every time I wake up in the morning I get that panicked “Oh shit, did I move the elves”? Though, after 3 years it’s becoming more of a habit to move them. Like Pavlov’s dogs (and a good hubby) I’ve been trained (mostly).

Sometimes, they bring stuff back from Santa. Like letters. Or Christmas tree ornaments. Or a nice and naughty list (which only the elves have control over). Or, like a few mornings ago, pajamas to wear for their yearly Christmas picture (that’ll be tomorrow’s post). Things they were going to get anyway, merely made magical since they were delivered by their elf.

Of course, our elves are creative and enjoy a good Christmas prank now and then (this lands them on their own naughty list). It’s fun to see Elf on the Shelf spoofs and all the fun others have with their elves.

Some people think it’s creepy. We think its entertaining to see our kids excitement and enjoy the “magic” of the elves because there will come a day when there is no more magic. Awe, who am I kidding… they’ll believe in the magic forever because they know the consequences for not believing (like me)!

 

All Aboard!

If you are familiar with “The Polar Express” this post will make sense. If you’re not familiar with it, stop. Go to your nearest bookstore, download it for your reader, anything. Get familiar with it. It’s my favorite Christmas story.

Anyway, I taught 4th grade for 6 years and everytime around this year I would read  this story to them. Inevitably,  I  would get asked “Is Santa real”? I would usually pose the question back to them. But there were always some who couldn’t hear that bell ring any longer.  Though it saddened me greatly, I knew better than to try to convince them otherwise. That would be my cue to explain my meaning of the Jolly Old Elf.

To me, Santa is the magic of Christmas. He’s the giving, the excitement, the joy and happiness, the anticipation and the wonder. Giving gifts shows we care and want someone, other than ourselves, to be happy. That inherently makes us happy,  too. Ever see a kid, young or old, on Christmas morning? Exactly.  I’m like my two kids, giddy, overflowing with excitement, barely able to contain it all. That is the work of Santa. He is the colorful lights, the wrapping paper patiently waiting  to be shredded, the joy of the Christmas tree and all the decorations that go with it. Santa is the magic.

My kids know (or at least believe) that once you no longer believe in Santa, you no longer get any presents.  I’m pretty sure that’s a risk they’ll never be willing to take. Heck, I’m still waiting for my train to take me to the North Pole so Santa can give me the first gift of Christmas so I can ask for one of his reindeer’s bells. Yes, the bell still rings for me. If it doesn’t ring for you, find a kid and you’ll be garunteed to hear that bell soon enough.

May Santa bring you good health and good cheer this holiday season.

Blueberries for Christmas

I wrapped some Christmas presents this evening. And I got to thinking how the season took hold of me a little earlier than usual. Our red and green Christmas count down chain began at 42 sleeps. It went up one side of the door frame, across, and down the other side. Now it is simply the length of the door. Christmas morn draws near. Icicle lights hang from the front eave. Santa and the snowman adorn the front doorstep. Colorful lights twinkle in the window. However, all this pales in comparison to the tree that blocks the TV from 2 viewing spots. Raised by me, ornamented by the kids, it stands honorably, proudly, patiently waiting for the Eve of the Jolly Ol’ Elf. That evening, we opened the bag which contained all of our sentimental ornaments: Christmas turtles and frogs, the homemade ones and the school-made ones, the baby’s first Christmases, even the one that glows in the dark. We opened that bag and let the kids hang them all while we fielded the questions of the stories behind each one. Yes, there are some branches that have 4 ornaments. Of course, there are vast empty spaces where there are no ornaments. But each ornament was hung with care and excitement and that makes the tree magically perfect. If we’re good, Santa will hopefully leave us toys under this magical tree

However, if we’re bad, he’ll bring us coal. But how do you explain that Santa will bring coal to bad boys and girls to 3 year old who thinks coal is fun? The original conversation went something like this:
Me: What do you want Santa to bring you?
3 year old: A cement truck!
Me: What’s he going to bring you if you’re bad?
3 year old: I dunno.
Me : Coal.
3 year old: What’s coal?
Me: It’s what Nova Scotia burns to make electricity. Do you want that?
3 year old: Yeah!
Me: Never mind. He won’t bring coal. He’ll bring you blueberries. Do you want blueberries?
3 year old: No. Blueberries are gross.
So now Santa bring blueberries to our house if you’re bad. His older brother is okay with that because he likes blueberries. 
This is also our 4th year with that ever careful watcher, Woody, the elf on the shelf, and in the tree, in the fridge, in the freezer, in the china dishes and in the curtains, and into mischief. This year, he brought along a friend… Elfis. But that’s a whole other post because I have to go see if they’ve moved to new spots yet!
I hope you find this holiday season as merry as I do this year!