So right off the bat I want to say that I’m not 100% okay with the title of this post. I wanted to make a funny play on word with the movie RoboCop involving some sort of dad to dad tie that will make much more sense after you read the actual story. The best thing I could come up with was “RoboPop” which feels more like a nod to the idea of a robot father. I have nothing against robots or robot fathers and just in case a robot overlord reads this in the future, I want to add that I LOVE ROBOTS, but this story involves dads and cops, so that title didn’t really seem to work either. After some thought, the officer involved in the following story was being a bit of a bro, so the title stands. Enjoy.


It can’t be overstated. When you are an at-home parent, getting out of the house is a must. You need to find adult connections, and have adult conversations. If that means meeting for coffee with a friend once a week, that’s better than nothing. Most of the time though, I’d recommend something a bit more lengthy. The first full year of being home after William was born, I found I had done all the normal things to keep my mind occupied. I had made detailed lists of smudges on the wall from dirty kid hands. I had found all the places in the carpeting that was trampled down to make a recognizable shape. I began the process of diving far too deep into the world of the cartoons that William liked and created back stories which lent themselves to the interactions of the characters on screen.

What I wasn’t doing was keeping up relationships with real people over the age of one year old. It’s something I still struggle with doing. I even feel a little self-conscious talking to adults lately because I’m not sure I remember how exactly to interact. After that initial year, I was concerned that while I may not be losing my intelligence (for whatever that’s worth), I was losing the ability to communicate adult thought with adult words.

Eventually, Melissa was very aware that I needed a break. So we came up with a plan for me to take an extended period of time to get out into the country and relax. The idea was for me to take a few days to get out and go camping. I was going to be joined by one other friend, and after two days of camping and exploring Idaho, we’d meet up with our wives and kids at another friend’s cabin in the beautiful city of McCall. After another night away from real life, we were going to head back as a happy, relaxed group. A great plan. This would be where I say something like, “What could go wrong?”

After a whirlwind, two day tour of the mid-area of Idaho, we made our way to McCall, anxious to see our friends and family. I tried my best to shut out the world while we were out exploring, but after a year of nothing but William, I already missed him. Our reunion was bitter-sweet in a way. I was excited to be with my family, but I was instantly back in my role of dad. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that, in a way, you give up the right to be truly selfish when you begin your life as a parent, but I had not quite cleared my head after two days. C’est la vie.

Bedtime for William came quickly that night. A sudden realization for me that before I knew it, we’d all be back in reality. I had no clue how true that was. William was situated in our room in the upstairs of a little cabin. We had brought along his “Pack N’ Play” for him to sleep in, which he had done several times without any issues. We put him down, said our good nights, and listened as the cries and fussing turned to quiet. We spent a few more hours with everyone before making our own way up to the room. There, quite happy, was William. Wide awake and playing games that babies play when they’re alone. As we entered the room as quiet as we could, he saw us instantly and began to make a lot of noise.

The next few hours were painful. He grew louder in protest to the fact that we had not engaged him and joined in his baby games. So, we tried to rock him back to sleep, nothing. We put him in bed with us, which made him all the more riled up. William, it seemed, was far to excited about his new surroundings to simply go to sleep. I’m sure if he had been able to talk at the time there would have been a great deal of, “Dad! Did you see this lamp?! This isn’t our lamp! I like it! Knock it over Dad! Dad! Mom! Did you see how this room isn’t one of our rooms in our house?! Where are we?! I like this room! Let’s scream at the walls and see if they make different noises than our walls! YAY!”

As the hours passed, and people had definitely gone to their rooms to try and sleep through the noisy little boy upstairs, we began to feel very self-conscious. No one had said anything and no one came to check on us, but we couldn’t help feeling like this situation was going to keep everyone up through the night. At 3am we decided to pull the plug. I packed everything up and loaded the car, while Melissa dressed William and put him in his car seat where he instantly proceeded to cry. We said very brief good-byes and began the two hour trip back home.

McCall is a very small town. Small enough that the speed limit on the main street is, I think, 25 miles per hour. At three in the morning, with a screaming child in the backseat, and exhaustion setting in from the past three days, I just wasn’t paying attention. In the sea of darkness, very suddenly we were illuminated by color. Red and blue. I look behind me to see a police car in tow, and check my speed, only to realize I was doing almost 40. This was gonna hurt.

I’m sure he heard William before he was able to see much of anything in the car. He surveyed the car’s interior with his flashlight before asking politely for my licence and registration. Without much of a glance he asked what was going on. I explained that we had made an attempt to stay with friends at their cabin in the area, but our little boy was just a little too overwhelmed with the exciting new surroundings of McCall to go to sleep, and that mom and dad were too tired to keep the party going.

Keeping in mind that all he had done with my licence and registration was hold them, he turned back at William and smiled a little. I wish I knew exactly what he said at that point, and I wish I had grabbed a photo with him because it was one of those moments you think should happen all the time. He looked at me and told me that he knew exactly what we were going through. He was a father of two kids and had to make the early am trip a few times over the years. He reminded us that we have especially precious cargo now, so to remember the need to be extra cautious since we would be heading along a dark road that runs by a nasty river. He made sure that I was with it enough to last for the two hour drive home and sent us on our way without so much as the typical, “Watch your speed, now.”

I didn’t get his name, and I’ll never be able to let him know that he did a really great thing that night. It’s not about skipping the ticket. If he had given me a ticket, I certainly couldn’t have argued against it. Parents need to be there for other parents sometimes. Offer a reminder to slow down and collect yourself. Parents need to have each other’s back a little more instead of judgemental comparing of what you think you do better. I hope, really, that someday I can pay it forward. Maybe this blog will allow me to do that for someone. Maybe it will be as simple as offering a hand to the frazzled parent on the playground.

We’ve all been there, and we will all be there again. Tired and stressed. Hopeful for a little slack from people. So when we’re on the outside, we all have to decide if we’re gonna be the people who roll our eyes and say, “Too bad, I got through it with no help” or be the BroboCop who knows that even a few thoughtful words might get that mom and dad back on the right track.

I fricken love robots.

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Family Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzle on a tableWhen the kids got old enough, we pretty quickly realized that doing jigsaw puzzles as a family is a fantastic way to get some quality time together.  Initially, they were the easy puzzles with only a few pieces.  Even so, it was amazing to see how quickly they latched on to the concept of fitting the pieces and creating the final picture.

As the kids got older, we were able to progress to more and more challenging puzzles.  We now do 500 and even 1,000 piece puzzles with some regularity.  The kids have developed their own unique strategies for solving, but everyone loves the initial “find the edges” party of the process.

One tip for other parents is that it’s pretty important to have a good puzzle table.  The chaos of daily life with kids means things get messy, and having a dedicated space to keep the puzzles is pretty important.  Otherwise you end up with partially completely jigsaws that get messed up.  Having a nice table means you have a place to work on the puzzles, and the house doesn’t get littered with random pieces.

We’ve also found that picking the right subject matter is important.  The kids don’t get as excited with landscapes and photography as they do with cartoon characters.  We’ve been on a Nemo and Dory puzzle kick lately, and there’s no end in sight.

If your family doesn’t do jigsaw puzzles together, give it a shot.  It’s a great way to bond and is intellectually stimulating for the little ones (and sometimes the adults 🙂

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What a Croc! Get it?

I’ve been trying very hard to cook more throughout the week. With the addition of Bonus Baby, time has become a major issue for trying to get meals ready after I’m cut loose from all the kids. As a professional fake chef, I never spent much time with crock pots during my cooking endeavours. Several years ago, a friend decided it would be funny to give Capn’ Fakecookin the devil’s cooking pot. After I made the leap to being at home with the kids, I realized that they are in fact quite useful. My apologies to people who I may have insulted over the years based on nothing more than their ownership of this appliance.

Melissa and I are picky eaters, so most recipes need a little adjustment and some just won’t work. Plus, many of the foods we want to eat most often don’t get the best results from hours in a crock pot. Things like…BBQ. I have looked up a great number of recipes over the past year, all promising amazing pulled pork, ribs, BBQ chicken, and basically every cut of everything from nothing more than the Ronco philosophy of set it and forget it. The principles of the recipes have all been the same. A little seasoning, perhaps an onion, and then dump a bottle of BBQ sauce over the meat and leave it on low for however many hours.

Review after review gave top marks to many of these recipes as a way to get all that BBQ flavor without the constant tending needed for smoking or grilling. Personally, I never saw these results from any of the recipes. Some of them were…okay, but I wasn’t looking for just okay. I needed something awesome. One day, with great hope, I found a crock pot rib recipe that had one of those pictures designed to make you hungry. It worked. I added ribs to our meal plan the following week.

The recipe was ultimately the same as most crock pot BBQ recipes, but I had a plan! I was going to use my home-made dry rub on the ribs AND I was going to use a glazing sauce I had made up when I did some real smoked ribs earlier this year. I figured that the taste should be pretty amazing, even if the results were a little underwhelming.

Meticulously I followed the directions which promised that “fall off the bone” tenderness that some people really get excited about. Fake chef cooking tip: If you are unable to take a bite of the rib without all of meat falling off – you shouldn’t be bragging. Likewise if you can’t pick up the rib by the bone without the meat falling off – you am cook it wrongbad.

As usual, the great thing about this was being able to keep up with three kids and know that dinner was working the whole time. The house smelled amazing all day, and I’m happy to take the credit there. After almost ten hours (the recipe recommended twelve) it was close to our slightly sad, early-bird special, dinner time. So I checked the ribs to see how things were progressing. I used a big set of tongs and gently lifted a set of ribs out of the sweet and spicy sauce. It was already far gone – just way too tender. The meat just sort of dissolved as you picked it up, a great idea for pulled pork perhaps, but not ribs. Additionally, the sauce and spices had clearly seeped into the meat, which you would think is great, but there just wasn’t the flavor. It was just color. We had to use extra sauce just to get any form of “BBQ” flavor.

I will not give up, though I will put out the call. If you have a great crock pot recipe – particularly one for BBQ – that you really love, please share it!

Also, when I have perfected my crock pot pizza – I will let everyone know.

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A Special Performance

If you haven’t figured it out yet, music is a big part of my life. It’s something I actually had to fight to keep involved with. Not in a “Fight Club” kind of way, but there was a period of time where it would have been very easy to cut my losses and say farewell to being involved in any form of music aside from iPods and youtube videos. Lucky for all of us, MTV has taken the steps to remove it from television.  Aww….poor VJ’s….remember VJ’s?

About a year after we moved to Idaho, I went to the local Highland Games. If you’ve never heard of a Highland Games, feel free to consider that normal. It’s a Scottish festival consisting of music, food, dancing, and the actual games (yes, one of the events is where they throw the big stick). It’s a great time, and a place where no one looks at you funny for wearing a kilt. A rare thing indeed. It was there that I happened upon the Boise Highlanders, a very established bagpipe band here in Idaho. Here’s where things get, well, slightly insulting. In a way.

I’m a drummer. In the most loosely formed sense of that word. I don’t consider myself amazing to watch. I’ve had almost no real training. What I know has been gleaned from years of being in contact with people who are better at this craft than I will ever be. I’m okay with it. Is that the insult? Nope!

When I saw the Highlanders for the first time I looked at Melissa and said, “I could play with those guys.”

It’s not that they are bad or anything, but particularly from a drumming standpoint they do things to be on the easier side. We play slightly basic bagpipes tunes, and we do it as well as we can. We even have fans! It’s been an amazing experience so far, truly.

Along we our fans, certain organizations have become very attached to having us perform for them. Which brings me to a story that leads to a very special performance this weekend.

Every year we are invited to perform at a festival in Ontario, Oregon. It’s called “America’s Global Village Festival” and from an entertainment standpoint, the Highlanders are certainly a main attraction. This year I was unable to attend to due to some things we needed to do with the boys, and perhaps someone was looking out for me and my family.

Barely into the performance this year, a little punk kid and his cousin, who were high on god knows what, jumped the curb onto the grass in their car and drove directly into the grand stands.

Let me say that again. They drove into a crowd of people with their car. Smashing a section of stairs that sent metal shards flying, hitting a member of the band, and pinning a THREE YEAR OLD BOY, between the car and bleachers. A 91 year old woman was hit. No deaths, but once all the counts and recounts were finished, almost 30 people ended up in the hospital. Most with minor injuries, 3 severe, one enough to be air-lifted to a larger hospital.

The driver was laughing and smiling during, and after, this terrifying ordeal. Laughing. While a 3 year old boy cried for help.

His passenger attempted to get out and simply walk away. He was “placed” back into the car and kept there by a member of the band. Two other members of the band, who are police officers, ran and shut off the engine to the car, taking the keys, and began to move the car back so people could get free.

The park is located directly across the street from the local hospital and first responders were there in minutes. Lots of luck that day.

This weekend the Boise Highlanders are putting on a free concert, at the same park, in the same location. While it’s open to anyone, we have made attempts to ensure that those involved with the crash have been invited. As well, the city will be honoring the first responders.

I don’t put this information out there to brag about the group, though clearly while we may be small, we have some amazing people involved. I want to put out an invite to anyone reading who might be in the area, and perhaps one of those reminders that we all need from time to time.

A three year old boy…that’s William. The bleachers…that’s where Melissa and the boys would have been, no doubt about it. Think of it as circumstance, luck, divine intervention…whatever you want. The point is that you never know what might happen next. Hug your babies.

For the concert: It starts at 3pm at Lion’s Park in Ontario, Oregon. If you find yourself close enough, and have the time, I hope you’ll come out and support not only the police and medical units involved, but the people and families hurt by this.

I don’t know what will become of the driver or his passenger, and I wish I didn’t care. After hearing several people describe the face and the laughter from the driver, and the look on the face of the little boy before the car hit the stands…

…hug your babies.

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Just a quick note.

I just wanted to make everyone aware of a couple things involving my little nook here.

First off, I really appreciate any form of little note of “good job, keep going” regarding this site. I know for certain that some of you have specifically tried to pass the word around and generate a bit of additional interest for me. I truly thank you for that. I’ve probably made it obvious by now that while “This is for me! This is for fun!” I have a bigger goal of making this a little more widespread and becoming a larger part of my life. I enjoy it, and it gives me something better to do at 3am then watch TV.

So keeping that in mind I want to give you folks a little insight for some upcoming plans. There’s nothing major in the works, but stuff I hope people want to know and be excited about with me.

Soon, and hopefully on a bit of a regular basis, I am planning on inviting a guest blogger to stop by and give me a chance to promote the other side of the coin, the stay at home Mom. Yes, a Mom will post something on The Dad Life. Women just weasel their way into everything. Seriously, she’s an amazing and funny Mom, and I’m very excited that she agreed to stop by and post.

Also, please note that there is now email sign up available! For those who are friends with me on Facebook, I’m hopeful that this addition will allow me to stop making those annoying “GO READ MY BLOG RIGHT SOONISH PLEASE!” updates. So if you’d like email notifications about new posts, please put your email in! Hopefully it works!

Last, and certainly the most distant. In conjunction with my hope that you, the readers, will please continue to help me promote things, I am tweaking settings that are supposed to generate additional traffic. Should that happen, you are certain to find one day that the site is revamped with a more custom look, and perhaps even sponsors – I’m talking to you Porsche.

In short, thank you. Keep reading. Keep spreading the word. Buy me a Porsche.

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I Did a Good Job – Proof Inside

This past week was really stressful for me. The addition of Bonus Baby has challenged everything I “know” about parenting. Really. I have come to a point where I question if I’m ever doing anything right. I feel as though I’m gaining a little more control each day. As if I’m understanding how a 4 month old fits into the already organized chaos of the house. I’m somewhat sure they have been using the Jurassic Park idea of testing the fence for weak spots, and some days I worry that they’ve figured out how to get Newman out of the park with the stolen DNA samples. I’ll say that at the very least, I have a new found level of respect for single parents and parents with lots of kids. I don’t know how they do it and keep their sanity. Three kids instead of two. It doesn’t seem like there should be that much of a difference.

I was stressed, and I needed a good weekend to recharge. I got it.


It was a long day, and I was intent to spend most of my Sunday catching my breath in anticipation for the week. My safety net, Melissa, would no longer be there for my extra pair of hands. They would be replaced by the small, less helpful hands of Bonus Baby. Yep. Good luck prying me off the couch. Well, plans have a way of changing. I find I tend to fall into the category of “a plan is just a list of shit that isn’t gonna happen.” I’m so glad it went that way.

For those of you who might wonder if I’m in the very stereotypical category of “cheap Scotsman” well, let’s just say that six months ago I noted that it was time to get new shoes. So I went shopped on Sunday. I decided that it would be a nice change if I took Carter out and let Melissa and William stay at home. I think kids like a little one on one sometimes. Even though I know the boys and I need time apart, getting out alone really changes things. Carter and I had a good morning, but I didn’t find any shoes that I was willing to buy, and by “willing to buy” I mean shoes that fell into my mythical criteria of being really great shoes that were under $40. See “cheap Scotsman.” After coming home for lunch and getting a fairly insistent reminder from Melissa that it was okay for me to spend more than $40 because A) I really needed to get new shoes. B) I was going to wear the shoes for roughly 50 years so the money kind of spreads out. See “cheap Scotsman.”

I decided to switch things up after lunch, and took William out with me. Mostly because it was Carter’s nap time, but also mostly to switch things up. I wanted to take a slightly different approach than normal with William. Those of you who’ve been reading for a while will remember that William was late to really start talking, and perhaps that has led Melissa and I to be hesitant with helping him to progress in other areas. I see parents with kids who have to be William’s age, who don’t have to worry about letting go of their child’s hand for a moment without risking the immediate sprinting of said child to the most dangerous object in the area. I see parents who can avert their gaze for more than half a second without the worry of their child seeing that as an opportunity to create havoc. I decided that William and I were going to join those ranks, and he went above and beyond my expectations.

First off, in keeping with the “here’s the plan, let’s mess it up” theme of the day, it went from quick run to check a different shoe store, to an almost three hour trip all over town. Home Depot (not-so-fun-time project post in the future?!!!), and three different shoes stores. Did I mention that I really hate shopping?

William decided to be my little slice of redemption. From the start, I made sure to give him a little freedom when I could. Walking down the isle at Home Depot? “Just stay close, buddy,” I’d whisper to him. Sure enough, as we made our way through the store he followed along by my side. Occasionally he’d stop to look at an interesting tool or sheet of plywood. At one point he stopped at big metal beam that ran up to the ceiling, and began knocking on it. He figured out that it was hollow and turned to me saying, “Open, daddy, open!” My kid thinks I can rip open metal with my bare hands….how was your Sunday?

The little extra space and freedom continued through the shoe stores, and by the time we arrived at the final location I think we were both ready to just fall asleep. We had landed at DSW, a place I had never been to because it had not opened a store in my living room. A bit rude. William had started to get antsy to be home, but since he was tired, I was able to give him an alternative to running away from me and putting every shoe in the store into one large pile. Sitting! I would put him on one of the seats they provide for people to try on shoes in whatever area I was in, and bring him my latest choice. Which brings me to my over-the-top cute moment for this post.

In an effort to keep him engaged and still in each spot I went to, I included him in the process. I’d hand him the box, and I would take out one shoe, handing him the other to inspect. Then I’d simply try it on, without making a big fuss over him. Sometimes he’d take one of his shoes off to try the new one on like daddy, and other times he’d just pull out that wad of paper they always stuff into the shoes to…eh…keep their shape? Anyhow, everything was working so well! I can’t put it into words how nice it was to have him sit down, and put my attention on finding the right size, glancing over to always find him in the same place. He was behaving so well. Someone was getting a chocolate chip cookie on the way home.

The thing that floored me though, was whenever I’d try on a shoe, and it had to actually be on my foot, William would give me a once over and say, “Cool shoes, daddy. Cooool shoes. Good job!” I don’t know where that came from, especially considering he only did it at DSW, after two other shoe stores. All I know is that it was awesome, I appreciated the feedback, and I wanted to try on lots of shoes to keep hearing him say it.

Lots of hugs and a cookies were had before we went home.

And for the record, my new shoes are cool. I did a good job.

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Only Two?

I was asked a really interesting question via facebook the other day. What if you had to put only two things on a baby registry? Two things you just couldn’t see yourself living without after the baby was born.

As potential answers started to flood my head, I also became very bothered by the question. See, giving advice on these topics is something I find myself doing on a somewhat regular basis. So it was annoying that I found myself really struggling to provide only two answers. Not because I couldn’t think of two viable answers, but because…seriously…two? Perhaps I’m alone, but when I started to look around the house at the editions of things we brought out or was brought over for the mere addition of Bonus Baby during the week, well, there’s more than two things.

I guess it was obvious that the couple involved wasn’t looking to try and live with only two additional items in their house after the baby was born. I think they were going through the same things many of us go through when trying to prepare the house for a baby. What are the things that are really important? What are the things people tend to buy that could really be done away with? What do you really want to spend those dollars on?

On a short list? I’d absolutely want the following on a registry:

Car Seat and Stroller – Can you live without these items? Of course! You can be like me and almost never leave the house. You can maybe carry your children everywhere instead of letting them ride in style. Do you want to though? I’ll say this – I like the car seat/stroller combos, and I don’t care about the bells and whistles. I don’t care if it has seven cup holders for the adult. I never use the cup holders. Honestly. Melissa used to put her coffee in one of them and go shopping, and it would drive me crazy. Every week there was coffee dips all over the handles or dried up in the bottom. Don’t be fooled by the kind of tires on it or the appearance of “shocks,” strollers are not 4-wheel-drive, they are you-wheel-drive. Put these on a registry, but don’t pay $100 extra on the one that has a “storage space” on the top. Ours has one and we can’t fit two iPhones in it.

A Really Good Chair – I’ve talked a little about my “daddy chair” which is my now, almost 8 year old La-Z-Boy recliner. I mentioned that it turned into our breastfeeding/child rocking/child TV viewing station. Seriously, that chair has become the most important piece of furniture in the house, and it’s still my favorite place. Yes, we bought one of those rocking chairs with the rocking ottoman that Babies R Us tells you is a “must have item” and put it right in the nursery, but it hasn’t seen a quarter of the use of my chair. So if you don’t have one, find a chair that you are comfortable with for the long haul. Of course with a newborn you will find yourself running around all day, but you will also find yourself sitting a lot. Make sure you’ve given yourself a chair where that isn’t such a bad thing. Did you know that some of those chair recline AND swivel? God bless us all.

A Thing That Helps The Baby Sleep – Whatever that means – buy it. We have some very generous people in our lives, and when we were pregnant with William a flood of pricey items came rolling in by mail. So we had an electric rocker that played music and in theory would swing the baby to sleep. We had one of those smaller chairs that would vibrate, and play music, and in theory would soothe the baby to sleep. We had two mobiles, a sleeping wedge, and sleepy music CD’s that all promote a nice environment to lull the baby off to sleep. None of those things worked as well as….the car seat. Alton Brown has a rule with kitchen items. No single use items, he likes multi-taskers. I can get behind that in this case. The car seat keeps baby in a comfortable and safe place. It’s got that sort of confined space that babies view as soothing, as if they are being held. You can move them without waking them up. Heck it even has a handle! Regardless, find something that works so that you don’t feel compelled to confine yourself in holding the baby while he or she is sleeping.

Somewhere to Put Diapers – Regardless of your choice in cloth or disposable diapers, you need a place to put the dirty ones. A diaper genie, diaper elite, diaper pail, crap caddy, turd tacklebox, dookie domicile, you take your pick, but have one. You never realize how much those things help till a bag rips open, or the lid isn’t on right. Think poop smells bad? It even less fun smelling a week’s worth.

A Thing That Buys Other Things – Yep. Gift cards. In my most humble opinion, gift cards are one of the greatest gifts ever, and on a registry they can really be magic. Again, not to pick on anyone, but two things? Gift cards are the best way to grab all those items that either fall through the cracks, or you’ll never get enough of. Diapers, creams, shampoos, wipes, whatever it is – a gift card is there for you. Like that friend you don’t talk to, yet you call up one day because your car won’t start and you KNOW he’ll give you a ride to work even though it’s going to be awkward since you haven’t really talked in a year. Hug that gift card and know it’s a true friend.

Now, equally important in my opinion are the things you should not put on a registry:

Cloth Related Products (exception: diapers) – Clothes, blankets, burp cloths, things of that nature. Why? Because no matter what you do or what you tell people, these items will appear during your baby shower. People love to buy cute outfits, things they think will match your “nursery theme,” or items their kids have outgrown. You’ll hear things like, “You can never have too many burp cloths!” or, “Socks were only $1 for 5,000!” You’ll have friends who have been waiting patiently with boxes of clothing, stalking their friends for the one who seemed ready to have children. Melissa and I didn’t need to buy William any clothing until he was three, and even then we probably could have just asked around. You need these items, but putting a pack of washcloths on your registry invites everyone to buy them. It doesn’t matter that you specifically asked for one pack.

Wipes Warmer – By the time William actually came home from the hospital, we had acquired two wipes warmers. Makes enough sense I think. I like to think the boys prefer a warm, moist wipe gliding gently across their crap covered crevasse. In truth though, I think wipes dry out a little bit in the warmer. I’ve also noticed that within three seconds of being exposed to the air, they lose all their warmth. Not to mention that it’s another item you have to try and find a place to put the plug. A baby’s room only has so many outlets. We still use ours, but really it’s out of nothing more than habit. This really is one I’d be happy to be without.

Diaper Bag – I think people act differently toward their diaper bags. Some people, who tend to be women, use it as a purse or backpack. It’s a joint bag used by both baby and parent. It has everything from diapers and extra outfits to wallet and cell phone. Some people keep it minimal and only have the things needed to change the baby, perhaps an extra onesie in case of massive diaper blowout. The thing is, you don’t know how many hundred’s of pockets you need until you decide what kind of relationship you want with your diaper bag. Not to mention that in most hospitals, you’ll get two free ones from the two major formula companies. Rest assured those will certainly start you off right till you really figure out how many space you need…or don’t need. Remember those gift cards?

So yeah, I don’t know that I could pinpoint the two most important items needed on a registry. Lucky for me, I didn’t need to either. The list of things you need for a newborn, particularly as new parents can seem endless. True, places like Babies R Us will give you a “list” that you can check off as you make your registry. Those “must have” items. True, some of that is a ploy to get parents to spend additional money on things they don’t need. Seriously though, if you let a list tell you to spend your money on a crib, portable crib, bassinet, AND a Pack and Play…well you didn’t deserve to call it your money.

So let’s hear it, what’s your “Must have on a registry” items and the things you feel shouldn’t make the cut.

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A Person More Talented Than Me!

If you’re like me, you probably read that title and started thinking of a very long list of people. Don’t feel too bad for me; earlier this week I had someone tell me that my cakes are the BEST (they used all caps). I do things.

While you and your friends do a march madness style bracket of people I could possibly be referring to, I’m gonna move on.

I’m not sure how much insight into my personal character you are able to grasp as a reader. Obviously at this point I want people to enjoy my writing. I hope over time that more people will feel inclined to come back on a regular basis and tell their friends, but at the moment it’s hard to tell where things are going and where I fit into the lives of what often feels like a very short list of people who stumble into my little world here. Am I just the handsome comedian to people? The super intelligent handsome humorist? Perhaps you think I’m a total jerk, who is handsome. Do I let the light shine on your heart the way Linus vows the Great Pumpkin will pave the way for the magical spirit of Halloween? I may never know, but I’ll let you all in on a little secret.

I like nerdy, geeky stuff.

someone_who_loves_you-600x600That’s why I love James Hance.

Now before I go further I want to be clear that the following are my own opinions and while the timing of my post is certainly not a coincidence, I am getting nothing to plead with you to go spend lots and lots of money on his amazing work.

So enough delay, go right here.

The title at the top says it all for me. “Relentlessly Cheerful Art.” Not just cheerful art, relentlessly cheerful art! Art so cheerful that it refuses to not cheerful at you. That alone is so awesome that you might forget that there’s so much more to his site.

The perfect place to start is on his prints page where the magic of his mind becomes almost overwhelming. Look, I have my little nerd loves, so when I find a guy who takes things two things I enjoy in an obsessive kind of way like the movie “Shawn of the Dead” and the Muppets I am a pretty happy camper. I could sit here and link picture after picture, but seriously, just go look! There is something you’ll love, and better yet, there’s something you can share with your kids. For only 10 bucks you get an amazing, high-quality print, and look at the sizes! How am I so sure of the quality? We’ve purchased two prints and a very awesome shirt (which are also extremely well made and at $25 is certainly affordable). There’s also kids size clothing, stickers, ipod and iphone cases, and hoodies. Don’t you just want to hold hands with someone and hop around in a state of gleeful euphoria?!

Now the reason I have chosen to post about this fantastic dreamaginationer at this specific point in time is his latest book, which I’m so giddy for that every so often Melissa has to put me on my back and rub my belly to calm me down like a shark. Now Mr. Hance has already put out one book which I have sadly not purchased as of yet, but believe me, I plan on it. Both prints we own are from the “Wookie the Chew” series, and William loves them. I don’t need to have a copy of his previous writing in my hand to know that a mash-up of “Winnie the Pooh” which is one of William’s favorite things in the world, and “Star Wars” which I love, is going to be an instant hit in this household.

Now, if you have lasted this long without just throwing in the towel to the idea that “Ev has a man-crush on this guy” I’d like to bring up one last thing – he’s a dad. Better yet, he’s a dad doing everything he can to take care of his little girl. I’ve said it before, and it might always be true, within the blogging world I am no one. If you don’t want to believe me that minivans are a great purchase for your family, then okay. However, James Hance is a person far more talented than me, and I’m certainly moved by his abilities and by the story of his daughter; I think you will be too.

So I urge you to go and find joy in his artwork, and if you can help with funds to his little girl then do! Having his artwork in the house for months now I can certainly attest to the fact that it will always be boldly in your face, unapologetically turning the corners of your mouth upward. You will find yourself relentlessly cheered.

Go! Tell him I sent you! He’ll say, “Who?” That’s just this thing we do…

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Uncool or Just Very Specific?

So it’s been a while. I’m am not angry or upset. The simple fact is that the addition of Bonus Baby to the house for about 9 hours a day has not presented me with much free time. So much so, that when it happens I tend to find things I really need to catch up on. Like showering.

I was fortunate enough to catch a little bit of a break last week when my mom came into town for a visit. I love when she comes to town. She’s one of those type of guests that requires very little entertaining. She’s there for the grandkids, and that’s as much as she asks for really. That and vegetables to be in the house. Fair enough.

Along with her annual visit, Melissa and I get a date night or two. It’s become such a rare thing that it’s almost as if we’ve started dating all over again. While this might seem sort of romantic or maybe even a chance to renew the spark that tends to settle when you find yourself with only a handful of hours alone each night, for me it puts a lot of pressure into the evening.

Here’s what I mean – We planned two nights out together, and while we were given no guidelines or time limits, we set up my mom as best we could. Meaning, we fed the kids and tried to get them in a state that they would have about an hour to wind down before bedtime. Nice, easy evening for my mom.

We approached both nights with the same conversation:

Anything you want to do?
Nope, you?

The topic went in circles over where to eat and what we might do afterwards. We both agreed that there didn’t seem to be any movies playing that we had the slightest desire to go see, and I made the point that seeing something just for the sake of seeing something had a strong chance of ending with me falling asleep, not that I’d complain. So both evenings would find me driving aimlessly toward nothing, and Melissa would get irritated over the feeling that I was putting the pressure on her to come up with some fantastical idea for us to act out. She was partially right on that notion.

Then, like many parents, we hit the big question:

Are we uncool now? Have our kids made us uncool?

Let me first answer that question with, no. It’s easy to let that idea creep in, though. We found ourselves with an amazing opportunity to get out of the house and do anything at all. Anything. Yet we drew a blank until it became a valid idea to go pick up some last minute groceries. It’s a frustrating thing to have some freedom and no clue what to do with it.

Then it dawned on me that cool-status was not the issue. It was expectations.

I spend a lot of time looking outside. I wonder what’s going on out there. Most importantly, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I would do if I could be like those people out there. Walking around without even thinking about what a gift it is just to be out there walking around. Being a stay-at-home parent is a very important job. A job unlike any other. However, it often carries with it a sacrifice that few outside the circle can understand. So when that rare chance at freedom comes along, we want, no, it must be perfect. It must be magical. When it comes to dinner, a chance at something new sounds great! Unless the food is bad, because the food can’t be bad on that most rare of occasions out of the house. A movie? Sure, but it can’t be one of those movies that would work just as well on the TV a few months later. It has to be something that can’t be missed on that big screen. As the sun begins to set, we can go for a walk. It just can’t be through an area filled with spiderwebs or graffiti or a ton of dirt, because when we kiss I don’t want to open my eyes and see I’ve been standing in the local dog’s latest work. I want several months of magic in an evening, because it often needs to tide us over that long.

Perhaps this is a venting of sorts. Perhaps it is a reminder to get out more. Either way, I’d argue that we are not the least bit uncool. We or I, however, have very specific expectations for any evening we are out together. That’s what can make date night so stressful.

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What to expect, when you expect to be expecting.

Long before I started this blog, I found that many of my friends asked me pregnancy questions. It may have been my availability that allowed the questions to be directed at me instead of Melissa. Perhaps even that some people enjoy my long-winded tales that perhaps push the boundaries of what they wanted to know by diverting into unending tangents. Either way, I found myself the verbal pregnancy consultant for several of my friends. It’s nice to feel like my opinion of the matter is trusted.

There seems to be a routine of sorts as couples approach that ultimate decision to both bump and also grind, without any form of protective baby-barriers. It can be…well…it is a very nerve wracking time for both people. There’s always a great deal of “what ifs” and I think that causes a lot of people to enter into this very special occasion with their minds on the wrong things.

So I thought it might be nice to compile a little list of things I’ve often been asked or told, and try to respond as best as I can. That gives me the ability to answer the questions of my friends by directing them here, giving me the page hit, and allowing them the chance to avoid yet another long-winded conversation with crazy tangent guy. Seems fair, right? Little bit of win-win for everyone?

“We’re waiting for the right time.” – The most common thing people say to me, and the most difficult to respond to, because it deals with many issues. This is a statement that means many different things to different people, but the short version in my opinion is – when it comes to making the decision to have your first kid, there is no “right time.” Planets don’t align very often, and a golden beam of light is probably not going to envelope you as you’re crossing the street trying to decide if you should buy that next pack of condoms. Without specifics, it’s hard to go further, but be aware that things will turn upside down regardless of how much you’ve decided it’s the “right time.” Trying to base your decision on something so broad leaves you with every opportunity to invent a reason of why it is not the right time. If you are so desperate to find a reason of “why not” then perhaps that’s enough of a reason.

“We’re saving just a little bit more money.” – This is a great, specific idea that tends follows the above. You should absolutely be concerned about the cost of raising a child. I know a few people who have put no thought at all into the financial ramifications of children. I even know a couple whose plan involved government aid. Seriously. They knew they couldn’t afford a child, but figured with assistance, they would get by…to some degree. It is certainly something that people can underestimate, but if your mind is going to a place where you think those last few paychecks to close out the year are going to save you…it’s already time.

“We want to have the baby in ____, so we’re not going to try until ____.” – One of the biggest misconceptions among the people I’ve known who have tried to get pregnant, is that everything happens on a schedule. We hear stores about these kids in high school and college who have a drunken night together and wind up pregnant and there’s this feeling that it must be so simple. The reality is that those two kids, now facing a world of decisions, had a series of chance where everything had to line up perfectly. So many things have to be taken into account in order to get pregnant, and I’ve had more than one conversation of panic over, “It’s been a month! What’s wrong!?” Even at the age where pregnancy is most easily conceived (mid-20’s) the average length of time before pregnancy is five months. If you want something a little closer to home, ask people you know. You’ll probably be surprised at what you hear. Melissa and I had a rough time getting pregnant, and perhaps I’ll talk about it someday, but as we asked friends and family it was alarming the number of miscarriages we heard about, the years of unsuccessful attempts that sometimes required fertility treatments, and of course people who had medical issues that prevented pregnancy altogether. My point is, predicting a “due date” to line up with some form of schedule is not realistic, and I’m not just talking about the potential for things to happen in a longer time frame than expected. I know a family who believed the second pregnancy would take just as long to happen as the first, so they set their “schedule” of  when to start trying. They were pregnant within two months. Think of it as a pre-cursor to life with kids – you’re on their terms now.

“Is there something…sexual…we should be doing?” – Believe it or not, I had this conversation. I don’t mind talking about sex, but it can be a little awkward. Especially when being told that I could think of miscarriages as at least a partial success because clearly whatever we were doing to conceive was working on some level. So here’s my secret technique: Silk Boxers. You’re welcome. No, in all seriousness, I don’t know of any position or time of day or day of the week that really increases your chances. At one point we had been using those ovulation sticks, but that didn’t really work for us. I can say that even though I’m unsure if this was really the “key” to our success, something that doctors talk about is keeping everything as stress free as possible. After two years of trying, and some very emotionally painful moments, we took a week long vacation to Las Vegas. It was a great week, and we didn’t think about pregnancy while we were there. Nine months later, William was born.

“I’m not sure I want to bring a child into this world.” – It breaks my heart when good people say things like that. We need smart and caring people, who are willing to be involved with their kids, out in the world. Still, it’s hard not to see the truth in that statement. I heard it said like this, “You’ll never miss what you’ve never had. With kids? It’s not until they are in your life that you realize just how much you want them.” I know several couples who have no interest in having kids. The very idea of parenting is a scary subject for them. Well it is scary, and the world isn’t always nice. I can’t help but wonder, as I look at commercials for awful reality TV programming – did these “parents” go through any of those fears? Don’t be afraid. If you have a good head on your shoulders and you want to have kids, do it, and then be the best parent you can be for your child. That certainly has to be a step ahead from the TV parents.


“I’m not ready to stop doing what I want.” – Thank god for people who can admit that. There are plenty of bad reasons to not have a kid, but this…this is a real reason. I’ll admit that some people certain have a lifestyle that has allowed them as parents to keep up a healthy social life. Many parents are better than Melissa and I about getting out of the house, including time without the kids. There’s perhaps an element of not having access to family here, or the idea that many of our friends don’t seem to understand (or have perhaps forgotten) our need to get together in a comfortable environment that allows us to be social without a need to look over our shoulder the whole time. Either way, you must realize that after you have children you give up a certain level of freedom while they are young. I don’t like the idea that you can keep up the same level of selfishness and I don’t like the idea that you can maintain the same level of party lifestyle AND be mom and dad. If you have that itch to travel, do it! If you have that itch to spend money without thinking, do it! I’d argue that while the party doesn’t have to stop…it does have to slow down. Maybe more than you want it to. So if you feel the need to put yourself before the baby, definately wait to have a kid.


There’s no doubt about it, trying to decide you are ready to take the leap is a tough decision. The first time around left me constantly feeling lost.

What were/are your questions approaching the decision to have kids? What were/are your answers?

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