He is Happy!

Lately, William has made bedtime a struggle. I’m not just talking about our little scare the other night, which by the way has not happened again, the new safety door lock is amazing. No, it’s much more than that. When we close his door at night, we do so with the understanding that the room we saw as we left will not be there in the morning. William has taken to a variety of tasks before actually falling asleep. Things like putting on extra clothing, flipping his mattress over, or taking the majority of his clothes out of the dresser. In the end, I’ll take cleaning up the clothes over finding that he’s been playing outside while everyone was asleep, but it would still be nice of him to cut me a break. A little one?

He is growing up, no doubt about that, and with new levels of expectations comes new levels of stressful situations. Potty training is proof of that. When your kids are very young there is always a lot of discussion of milestones or normalcy for their age groups. We as parents are trained, in a way, to expect certain things to occur with our kids within a set time frame. Tonight I was reminded that I’ve never thought to ask if my son was happy. No one told me at what age I should check into that. I see his smiling face and hear his laughter which indicates happiness, but even though I know William doesn’t say very much (although lately he has been kicking that habit), it’s only fair that I would ask him at some point.

Tonight while I was washing some dishes, Melissa came downstairs and announced, “You need to come look at your son.” Melissa and I have a general rule when it comes to the boys, and I think it’s a pretty common thing for parents. Phrases like, “That’s my boy” are for when we want to personally take credit for something. On the other hand, “your son” is generally followed by something not necessarily bad, just something we want to pretend doesn’t stem from watching us. Considering it was well past the time he should have been asleep, I was assuming it had something to do with dad’s inherited “angry sleeping face.” Yeah, I sleep with a very displeased face.

I was informed that he had put on a pair of underwear over his pajamas, which really isn’t that bad. It was so much better! He had put on six totally different socks, three on each foot. I’ll admit that I like to keep the house a little on the cold side, I run hot, but 3 socks per foot seems like overkill. He was in fact wearing underwear over his pajamas…backwards. Awesome. Also my personal favorite, a single sock on his right hand. It’s the kind of outfit women think of when the picture that perfect guy. William is way ahead of the curve.

Melissa woke him up, as he had pulled the top mattress off again. We got him all settled in and Melissa walked out of the door, saying good night. I stood for a few moments with a big grin on my face. Stuff like this, is the kind of ridiculous that makes people want to have kids. I believe that. I leaned in, gave him a tight squeeze, and a kiss. With one more stupid grin moment, I turned to leave saying, “You look silly, buddy.”

From a rather sleepy face, “I’m HAPPY!”

So I’ve got that goin’ for me…

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A Therapeutic Note

Every year I go through the phase of “What if I had continued on with my music education degree?” I have no regrets really, because in the end I wanted something that really wasn’t being a band director. I wanted to work with bands without administrative red tape. There are jobs within most band programs that fill that idea, but not many, and not full time.

I love music in most forms, and I feel it’s a bit of a “cause” for me because of how important it has been in my life, and how I believe it truly helps people. Which is why I was really excited to find that a good friend had taken a route with music that not enough people think about – music therapy. There’s a feeling as you approach college as a music student that your options are either to teach music or play music, but that’s just not the case. So I’d like to shed a little light on the work done by Metro Music Therapy and while they may not be in your area, perhaps you or someone you know could benefit from the services offered by groups like them to people of all ages.

Music therapy has been around about as long as instruments have. Through the centuries it’s been said that music could rid a person of demons, delay madness in mental patients, purify the soul, or even aid with healing of diseases. Modern music therapy really began with veterans from World War I and II. Musicians, some quite famous, were sent to hospitals to play for soldiers suffering from mental and physical trauma as the result of battle. The results of these musical interactions were discussed for years. William Congreve wrote that now famous (often misquoted) line, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast…” but did you know it goes on to say, “…to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” Congreve was on to something there, music takes hold of people in an almost indescribable way.

So what is modern music therapy? From the website, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. It is an established health service similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy and consists of using music therapeutically to address physical, psychological, cognitive and/or social functioning for clients of all ages.” In short, music therapists work with people who have any number of disabilities and use music to help in the way they live. If you are a mother who had a special “labor mix” on your iPod, you have used music therapeutically. So this is an idea that many people have used in their life while perhaps not knowing it. I took this opportunity to ask my friend, Mallory Even – who owns and operates Metro Music Therapy, a few questions that go outside the realm of the information provided on the website.

My first question was the one I was most interested to hear the answer. As a former music education major, I’m well aware that music therapy is not an obvious choice to most people. It’s something Mallory aims to change for other students.

With so many career choices involving music, what made you choose music therapy?
“I actually thought I wanted to be a band director throughout my time in high school, so I started out as a music education major my freshman year at Florida State. During one of our general music courses, Dr. Jayne Standley came to speak to our class about her work as a music therapist in the NICU. I had never heard of music therapy before,which I now think is sad and have made it a mission of mine to educate high school students about music therapy as a career choice. I was completely amazed that there was a field that combined my love for music and my passion for helping people. That same day, I walked into Dr. Standley’s office and told her I wanted to change my major.”

Dr. Standley has done some amazing work with pre-mature babies. Her research and efforts with The Florida State University has found them third in the nation for music therapy programs. You can learn more about Dr. Standley and her work right here.

How would people find out about music therapy groups in their area? Would it be doctor referral, internet/word of mouth searching, little of both? 
“If searching for a music therapist in your area, I would start with either The American Music Therapy Association or the Certification Board for Music Therapists – both have databases to help people find music therapists throughout the United States. A doctor’s referral is always a plus (especially if you are hoping to have insurance coverage for music therapy services), and even speech, occupational or physical therapists in your area can be great resources since a lot of music therapists network with those other therapeutic disciplines. (Of course, the internet/word of mouth is always a good option, too!)”

An important thing to reinforce there is that many insurance companies cover some or all of the costs of these therapy sessions.

I’m sure there are tough days (right?), tell me a story about a good moment that keeps you going.
“Definitely tough days … not only while working with challenging clients, but also as a small business owner in a field that can still be considered “new” or “different” by the general population. But, the work that we do is so rewarding that it makes it all worth it. One of my favorite moments as a music therapist could have been easily overlooked by an outsider – as a lot of our “it” moments can be – but, luckily my five-year-old client’s mother was in the room during our session that day. This little girl, we’ll call her “Bella”, was hearing impaired and had recently undergone surgery for bilateral cochlear implants – a surgery that is decided upon by a lot of families only after much thought and consideration for their child’s future. As usual, I started our session with the “hello” song (a simple song I had sung so many times before while Bella would look at me and smile, but usually never make a sound) … “Hello Bella, Hello Bella, Hello Bella, it’s time to say hello!” That morning Bella waved and smiled, but didn’t vocalize anything with me. I told Bella I wanted to sing the song again, and this time I wanted her to try really hard and sing her name with me. “Hello Bella, Hello Bella, Hello Bella, it’s time to say hello!” After I was finished singing that phrase, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Bel-la.”

“Yea, Bella! That was wonderful!! Let’s do it again!!” And we did. We must have sung the “hello” song ten times that day. Bella’s mother remained very quiet and got very teary-eyed as we continued to sing, and finally looked at me and said, “That is the first time she has ever said her name.”

There are so many touching moments that make up a music therapist’s career. The elderly dementia patient that can’t remember their name, where they live, or who their family members are, but who can sing every word to the song, “You Are My Sunshine,” and who smile for the first time in days because you brought that musical memory to them; the child with Autism who remains isolated and withdrawn in their usual daily activities, but engages in eye contact, close proximity to peers, and appropriate social skills during the instrument-play activity in their weekly music therapy group. The changes evoked through music can sometimes appear to be subtle, but as a whole, music therapists are doing some big things.”

Ya know, it’s easy to dismiss a profession that traces back to ideas of tribes performing rituals of song and dance to cure illness. Yet, we live in a world that has blamed death and tragedy on music time and time again. It’s clear that people know that music is a powerful thing, but I’m not sure people know how beautifully powerful it can become when channeled in the right way. We all have a song that brings a smile to our face, ones that makes us feel calm or remind us of a perfect moment, and using that idea to help people is pretty special. These amazing people design programs for each individual person which can even include instrument lessons. It’s clearly rewarding and an industry that deserves a little spotlight.

If you know of someone who might benefit from music therapy. Look into it, please!

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I just want to like the stuff I like!

Melissa and I read several books leading up to the birth of our first son. We sort of, glanced, at them again prior to the birth of our second. I would encourage any to-be parent to read up on the process, but there’s just things that no book or even person is going to tell you. Now, while I highly suspect that anyone reading this knows me personally, I secretly want to believe that on some occasion you’ve told a friend that you know a guy who started a blog, and it’s funny (or kinda sad)…check it out! So for those theoretical friends of friends who didn’t get this bit of highly personal information…I used to be a baker.

The reason I mention this, is for a bit of perspective.

I may have accidentally been in the perfect profession as a lead in to being a stay at home Dad. The hours were generally long, and always started early in the morning. I was often ignored or given little respect. I was constantly expected to clean up another person’s mess. I would get stuff on my hands that I couldn’t wait to clean off. I was always indoors, with lots of noise, and almost always on the move. Lunch was always a test of speed, and most of the time…I kinda needed a hug.

The more thought I put into it, I realize that there seems to be only one thing my former job did not prepare me for when I made the jump to Admiral Von Homedad: TV.

BE WARNED! I will at some point do a posting of my over analysis of the shows on the Disney Channel. You people need to understand that in the almost 3 years now that I’ve been at home with the kids, I’ve spent a highly disproportionate amount of time with the characters on these shows versus people in real life. I suspect that all stay at home parents get that problem.

But no, when I say “TV” I’m not talking about the kid shows that try to throw in the clever “adult joke” from time to time. “huh huh, get it? Jimmy Moo? It’s like Jimmy Choo? Remember Sex in the City? That Clairabelle Cow is such a Samantha!” Furthermore, I’d like to ensure everyone that we don’t just watch TV here all day, neither my kids (who have much more pressing matters in the form of play destruction…hmm…playstrution? plastroy?) nor myself (aftermath containment unit) have time for that. I do though, get TV going as background noise for cleaning/mental unwind time.

Specifically I’m talking about the commercials. I’m sure there have always been bad commercials, and probably the idea of a line of commercials for a particular product. However, I’ve noticed that being in drastically more contact with certain ones have caused me to not only loathe those commercials, but to swear off those products altogether.

My biggest issue is with the current onslaught of Kit Kat commercials where everyone is just sound eating the already annoying theme song. Know those? I have a huge problem with overly loud eating. I used to go upstairs when my wife would eat chips or,oddly enough, cereal. I love my wife more then I could ever put into words, and I respect her right the eat however the hell she wants. So I didn’t do it in a mean way, I’d just disappear and come back when the carnage was over. My wife, who loves me an amazing amount for reasons I cannot seem to grasp, has made huge steps to bring down the volume. It’s when you’re able to make these types of compromises that you’ve got a strong marriage. Anyway, while it is mostly for that reason that the Kit Kat commercials make me want to live inside Kenny G’s saxophone for a year. The other thing that gets me is the locations. Offices, libraries, whatever the hell else; in every situation I would have been screaming at people to stop eating rocks and old chunks of metal. No one should ever make that much noise while eating, and NO ONE should be that self involved so as to completely zone out to the fact that, “Oh hey, look at all these people around me trying to work, read, or pay their respects at a funeral. Oh well, it’s time for me to have my barrel of bolts and roofing tiles!”

There’s like 4 of these commercials, and while I know that people are still buying Kit Kats, I have to believe it’s because people like Kit Kats and not because of the sound of a cement mixer going through a wood chipper. Much the way I don’t think women switch tampon brands because of a lady jogging.

The books just never said I’d slowly go crazy from commercial exposure.

Also I think they should bring back 3D Doritos.

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Art to Adorable

In a long list of things we needed to finalize in Florida before we moved to Idaho, I was told very sternly to get into my father’s attic and clean out several boxes of random items that had been kept from my childhood. There was an endless pile of drawings from all throughout my life. Melissa insisted I keep a few from my high school art classes, but did not object to getting rid of my detailed blueprints for a spaceship. One unfortunate side effect of divorce, something the psychiatrists won’t tell you, is that your childhood scribbles and memorabilia tends to split up as well. While that’s all perfectly sensible, parents seem to go through a stage in life where hanging on to a picture of an unidentifiable blue mass is no longer important. So after feeling I’d seen the last odd box containing an MC Hammer concert ticket at my dad’s house, I was a little frustrated to start the process over with a steady line of packages sent from my mom.

There was some element of fun in looking through all the drawings and school projects, most of which I had long forgotten. Still, I was not compelled at all to keep any of it and most ended up in the trash. I meant no offense to my parents by it, I’m sure at some point those things held meaning, but I couldn’t help but think how long that stuff sat around waiting to be thrown away. I just barely want to show the boys the stuff Melissa made me keep, let alone proclaim, “Yes! Daddy was the one who drew…that.”

We have one art project that William did adorning our refrigerator door. He wanted to decorate a cake like daddy does, isn’t that sweet? So we found a cake picture from a coloring book and he went nuts with it. Outside of that, the boys are not at an age yet where they’ve attempted to actually draw anything.

I got to thinking a little bit, and I don’t want this to come across as insensitive. I was wondering how long you need to keep something on the fridge before it’s acceptable to take it down. Not that I’m saying parents ever get bored with seeing the artistic stages of their children displayed, but seriously, you have to run out of space eventually right? I’m sure not everyone is like us, but we keep a great deal of information on our refrigerator because it is a major focal point. Keeping things like important phone numbers, any number of reminders, or just a nice simple family photo takes up valuable real estate. Of course there’s the technology to consider as well. Undoubtedly Apple will come out with the iFridge because we’ve all been there in the moment when you realize that you can’t check facebook while opening the door and getting all the breakfast necessities out for the kiddos. I’m pretty excited. Likely we’ll be able to store billions of their pictures in some kind of app, but there’s nothing quite as personal as seeing the drawing in real life.

That’s what I thought anyway…

Till I saw a feature on one of my favorite websites promoting a company called “Child’s Own Studio” and if you’re like me, you’ll be blown away at what they do. Clearly companies like this have been around for some time, which is sad because I have plenty of friends with kids but I’ve never seen them mention this type of service. I think this is the type of thing parents love! I looked through a mountain of drawings I had done over my life and felt no spark of attachment, but I think having the one stuffed toy based on a drawing by me, that was special to my parents, would certainly be a bit of a treasured item. Needless to say it would be one of those items that the boys are not allowed to touch until they understand how to not destroy everything.

I became very excited by the prospect of turning artwork into something the boys could hold, sleep next to, and find comfort with. Sadly, with the amazing gallery must have come popularity as described on the studio’s contact page saying they are working their way through a backlog of orders and are therefore not accepting new orders at this time. So perhaps even more awesome of Child’s Own, they have provided a list of alternative places where you can find this type of service. That’s if you’re not willing to wait I assume.

I am so very fascinated with this so please, if you have used a place like this before or you, like me, are intrigued and go forth to have a toy made, leave a comment! Let myself and all the readers know how your experience was, and by all means send me a picture of the finished product!

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Don’t Concuss at Me

One of the most dangerous things you need to worry about as a parent, is your child. Kids have a seemingly natural tendency to “express their love” by unconventional means. Not all the time. You get the hugs and kisses, sometimes without even asking for them, but there are those times when you also get smacked a little too hard in the back or receive a swift kick to the nuggets. I’m not saying you should feel unsafe at the top of the stairs or at a subway platform when you are alone with a toddler, but I think you should be careful. As a rule. An accident happens by accident so you have to be aware that even your most trusted friend can cause you a great deal of pain without meaning to hurt you.

My junior year was my favorite year of high school. I had a very tight-knit group of friends who would get together frequently. From going out to eat to spending hours hanging out at someone’s home, we had fun doing simple, harmless things. I can only hope our parents took note of that, because even our most wild night was tame. I developed friendships over that year that have stood the test of time. We would never to anything to hurt each other. Right?

Anyone who is familiar with band nerd protocol is probably aware that before school starts, you go hang out in the band room. Over the course of high school, your band mates are the people you see the most, so it makes sense that the people you form such a strong bond with are also the first people you want to talk to as the day begins. Likewise the band folks who drove to school would try and park as close as possible to the band room door, knowing that it would be the door they would use at the beginning and end of the day.

So it was not surprising that as I pulled into a parking spot very close to our special door one morning, I looked over to see two of my very best friends parked in the next spot. Their eyes were closed, listening to some music and patiently waiting for the doors to be unlocked so we could pile in the band room and regale each other with tales of things that had occurred in the 12 hours since we had last seen each other. Clearly I must have had something to talk about that couldn’t wait, because that morning I exited my car and found my way to their driver’s side window. I remember wanting to give my friend in the driver’s seat a bit of a scare, and so as they both sat there with their eyes closed, I took position with my face close to the window, waiting for his eyes to open to my ugly mug inches from his place of rest.

I don’t remember how long I was waiting, but I was willing to put the time in for my little joke. His eyes remained closed, as did his passenger, one of our close female friends. Eventually she opened her eyes and greeted me with a big smile. She began talking, but with their windows up I couldn’t hear a thing from inside. I assume she was going on about how I was right outside the window, and how clever and funny that was of me, and how so many girls in school wanted to go out with me, you know, things like that. He remained sitting with his eyes closed and began to grin in an odd way. Evidently at some point she told him to open his door really quickly. My very good friend, who would go on to be the best man in my wedding party, did not question this idea because…well, because boobs. So in complete trust of her advice, he pushed the door open with as much strength as he could gather at that time in the morning.

And then I don’t remember things that clearly.

I know I was in the band room getting a very concerning talk from my band director about something on my head. Whatever that means. I know I had a similar conversation during my first class because I couldn’t “focus.” Then there was some kind of drama involving my mom coming to school to get me and that I was not to be allowed to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. Either way, I got a few very nice phone calls that evening asking if I needed anything. Isn’t that nice?

A similar incident happened over the weekend with Carter.

Carter has a new favorite toy. It’s one of those toys that has an arrow pointing to one of a bunch of different animals, and if you pull the lever on the side you hear something along the lines of, “The cow says, ‘moooooo” You all know the one. A speak and say. Carter decided that when he’s ready to play with it, he would let me know by slamming it down on my lap with a massive smile on his face. The smile is to make sure I’m aware that it’s done in a happy way, not an angry way. Since he has managed to avoid hitting me in the dangle thus far, I have been very tolerant of his method. So all was well and good till this weekend when I was taking a well deserved moment of rest on the couch. William was in a rare mood of actually sitting still to watch some cartoons and Carter was running around playing with whatever struck him in the moment. His sights must have set on his speak and say at some point because I remember seeing the quick flash of a cow and a goat, but it all goes fuzzy afterwards. I know that Melissa said something about a thing on my head, and then she was going on about a doctor’s appointment and something my eyes were doing. I don’t know, it was hard to focus.

It actually reminds me of this time in high school! A really good friend of mine was sitting in his car with this girl. They were listening to the radio in the morning…..

My point is – Be careful out there parents.

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Are We Too Safe?

I feel like I don’t understand many things that seem to have happened over the 14 (yikes) years since I graduated from high school. I know I’ve talked about this before, but times have changed. Every generation has probably said that at some point, but I feel there’s something particularly relevant about that concept these days. The overexposure to people we have gained from social networking sites in addition to the continued wave of hypersensitive parenting styles, have made what I consider to be a larger than average stride between myself and younger crowds.

People have every right in the world to raise their kids in whatever manner they see fit, so long as they are not putting that child directly in harm’s way. The downside of that idea is when a parent makes a decision for their child with every good intention in the world, and it catches on so rapidly that society takes a seemingly harmless idea and forces the world to change around it in a harmful way.

The other day, a friend posted a picture on his facebook page. He, his wife, and their roughly two year old boy had taken some professional family photos. In one of the pictures, he was holding his son upside-down while he and his wife were kissing. Their boy had that kind of kid-smile that is infectious. It was a very sweet picture, but it wasn’t long before comments started flying about holding his child upside-down. How it was very dangerous and to consider what might have happened if he was dropped! Then came the attacks on the two of them as parents, of course from total strangers.

Look, if you as a parent decide that it’s unsafe to toss your child into the air and let them fall into your arms, or lock hands with them and spin around in a circle, or dip your child upside-down, that’s completely your business. Quite frankly, if you hear laughter coming from inside my house during the day I’d caution you to stay out since there’s a pretty high chance something like that is happening right at that moment. A higher level of caution when it comes to your kids does not make you a better parent than someone with a little more flexibility in that area. It also does not guarantee your kids unlimited protection from harm. More so, having an opinion on something doesn’t mean that every needs to bend to your view, and offering your opinion of what is “safe” is not the same as some blind rage comment on how people who differ from your view are wrong.

So what then? Do we need to put bubble wrap over every object in the house? Ban the sale of tables with pointed instead of rounded corners? How long are we going to hear about Steve Irwin’s son feeding crocodiles before we’re able to be okay that he’s someone who is growing up in a zoo with this lifestyle? Interesting to me, as I grew up in Florida just miles away from an entire park where young kids can come face to face with giant alligators for a price. Safety is really a frame of mind. I, for example, feel much more safe in a car than an airplane though statistics tell me planes are the way to go. So how safe are we? Too safe?

Something bugged me during a recent online search for a trampoline. One of William’s favorite movies is the newest “Winnie the Pooh” and while he certainly loves that willy, nilly, silly old bear, Tigger has inspired him to fill moments of his day with bouncing. I’m happy to join in, but that can only last for so long. So I thought, “Hey! He’d bounce for hours on a little trampoline!” A short time into my search I saw this little bundle of joy: http://www.walmart.com/ip/IronKids-Inspiration-250-Fitness-Playground-Metal-Swing-Set/16451443

I love how hard they work to imply that this is not just some fun plaything. It’s a fitness center! Complete with fitness slide! Better still is the level to which they have gone to convince people that it’s safe. You’re basically leaving your child to play with a cloud, while on a cloud. Everything is beautifully soft, rounded, contoured, and padded. There are nets to protect you from swinging too far off course. Best of all, the trampoline has a safety bar! Nothing says, “Have fun kiddo!” like a bar on a trampoline designed to restrict your movement and bounce height. Isn’t that why trampolines like this were invented? No springs to pinch skin, seemingly impossible to hit any part of the frame, and better shock absorption than most off-road vehicles. Still fun? Of course, but look at the cost of all that peace-of-mind.

We spend so much time worrying about our kids. Parents try to teach these little life lessons, but learning to pick yourself up is something often overlooked. For a time, William realized that the threat that he might be hurt would get attention. This led to fake injuries with fake emotional responses, something we then had to learn to ignore. When a child is learning to walk, falling is part of that process. Eventually the training wheels need to come off the bike, and falling is part of that process, too. What is it Dory says in Finding Nemo? “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

So perhaps there’s a sound logic to a company providing over-the-top safety precautions when there are parents out there who will simply ignore the most basic rules. Even if they are printed out for them, three times. Clearly there needs to be some middle ground established on this matter, and you just can’t account for people who will be brazenly careless with their children. We used a Bumbo for a while, it went on the floor and was surrounded by carpet and blankets to fall on. We have knives in the kitchen, we keep them out of their reach.

…and when I buy some little trampoline for William, I won’t be telling him to keep the bounces under two inches. Aerosmith taught me to live on the edge.

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I can sleep anywhere, but I usually don’t

Buckle up folks, I’m starting off with another stupid band story!

When I was 17, I joined an all ages marching band (DCA group for you band nerds) that ran out of Florida. It was semi-professional and tons of fun, but this is all irrelevant to the point of the story which is that during the summer we took a trip to Allentown, Pennsylvania for the finals of that year’s competition. It was there that I shared a hotel room with two great friends. Yep, they really were two amazing guys, which is why it was such a great moment to open the door of the hotel room and see the single, queen sized bed. Now I don’t really recall how it was determined who would sleep where, but I very much remember that due to the extremely high occupancy that the hotel had run out of extra pillows and blankets.

And that’s the story of how for 3 nights during the summer when I was 17, I slept on the floor of a hotel with the comforter off the bed, and a phone book for a pillow. I don’t always sleep, but when I do, I sleep hardcore.

Over the years, my sleeping quarters have become much less painful, but none the less a place where I feel like I’m the odd man out.

I guess it really started my freshman year of college. I moved into an apartment with my good friend from high school. Much like any college apartment, we had some furniture, but most of it was scrounged up second hand from other people or simply the stuff we’d had forever. For me, that meant my bedroom stuff. My old twin bed, which was actually part of a bunk bed set that my brother and I shared on and off as kids, and is now William’s bed. One night stand, which I think was my Grandma’s, and the newest thing I owned was my computer desk. We were very excited to be out on our own, and all was well till I got a phone call from my Dad that would change my life forever.

“Your brother is getting a new bed, do you want his?”

My brother had a full size bed. You could tell he was more adult than me because he had two night stands instead of one. This was a pretty cool moment for a college freshman out in the world. I got that bed moved in, and that’s where it all started to go down hill. You see, every night I spent in that bed for the next 2 years was magical. As I’ve hinted at (and more to the point, since as far as I can figure, 99% of my current readers know me – tell your friends to stop on by!) I’m a short man, and for me, being in a full sized bed alone felt like I had my own little island. So much space! I could have every book from every class I was taking on the bed and opened with all my notebooks and still have plenty of room to sleep! Amazing! No one told me when I was growing up, to enjoy the feeling of stretching out in bed.

A year after the bed became mine, I bought a pug. A tiny little puppy pug, and she and I shared my little island for a year. I had lots of fun with her. She used to love to snuggle up under my chin, so sometimes I’d be a bit mean and turn around so she’d walk all the way around me to get back into her spot…at which point I’d turn around again.

About a year later is when Melissa entered the picture. Now for quite some time, my pug did not approve of the new lady hanging around. To be certain we were aware of this at night, she would sleep between us horizontally. So the bed looked like an “H”. It was slightly less comfortable than I was used to, but there was a woman in the bed so I opted to not complain.

Shortly after, pug 2 entered the picture, which also added the 4th body in the bed at night. My first pug was totally okay with Melissa by this point, having decided that Melissa was not going anywhere and that Melissa would give her treats sometimes, but for whatever reason the sleeping arrangements were getting worse. By 2005, about 6 years after getting my amazing island paradise, I was sleeping (truthfully) with about 2 inches of my ass off the bed. Enough to know that it’s off the bed, but not enough to feel like you’re about to fall. Folks, if you’re gonna sleep with your ass hanging off the bed, 2 inches is pretty damn perfect.

When we moved to Idaho, my Dad made us a deal. Give him the full size bed, and he’d buy us whatever new one (reasonable priced) we wanted. Perfect. King size it is! AND! For about 3 years I enjoyed the kind of sleep that you can only get from a bed that has enough space to accommodate your entire body. Then Melissa got pregnant…and a new pal joined us in bed.

Pregnancy does a lot to a woman’s body. I empathize, I really do. So when Melissa said she needed a body pillow, we got one, and I know it helped her quite a great deal. Especially in the later months. I, however, couldn’t help but notice that my awesome happy funtime king bed was suddenly sectioned off in a way that every part of my body was at the very edge of the bed. It wasn’t so bad, until I’d wake up and my face was just right at the edge of nothing as if all the oxygen on top of the bed was used up so I was struggling to get air from the side.

Then after the second pregnancy, when the body pillow was no more, the night time crying adventures began. Sometimes William, sometimes Carter. We’d get them in bed with us, they’d calm down and often fall asleep, which is when I realized, “Hey! Cool! I have no room at all! The fact that I’m still on the bed at all is simply the bi-product of clinging on to the shirt of my child and hoping that I don’t take us both down…lest we start this all over again!” So now, I hate the bed a little bit. I never know when I’m going to be able to use it as a bed. I no longer think of it as the place for sleep. That honor has moved to a different piece of furniture.

I guess the point of all this, and what my advice would be to anyone in the same position as me…

You can get some amazing beds if you’re willing to spend over $1000 on it. Lots of support, I hear that memory foam stuff can be amazing…but for me? I’m investing in the couch.

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Thanks Tigger!

The guys over at 8 Bit Dad said on twitter recently that, “If we don’t post everyday, it means we’ve been putting family first.” Man I love that. You wouldn’t believe how far I had to scroll back on their twitter feed to find that quote. I am awful at twitter. There’s too many hashtags floating around, and I’m never sure if I have to virtual hug the person who talks to me or just move right to the cuddling. So confusing. Sometimes I have to step back a little and remember that blogging is something I’ve been making an attempt to do for only three months. I’ve been a parent for more than three years now! Just how parenting came before the words in real life, parenting must continue to be the primary focus over the blog. I put a lot of pressure on myself as a “new guy” in the world of dad bloggers to get a little attention without being in anyone’s face about it all. The biggest part of that is posting, and there are moments where I feel bad that I didn’t get a chance to finish something on a particular day. I’ve asked a few people for advice and then quickly left those people alone so they don’t feel I’m like the annoying kid brother who just wants to follow them everywhere. I know that guy, I’ve been that guy, and people want that guy to go away. I even know a few people who do quite well with their own personal blogs, and I refuse to ask for pointless plugs that are apropos of nothing they would ever talk about normally. I’d love a larger audience. I’d love to power through post after post, but in the end I am a dad first and I have a long way to go in this process. Feeling a need to apologize for my parenting getting in the way of a post is a bit stupid.

This week really let me take that idea to heart. I’m gearing up for my new babysitting adventures, which will start on Monday – wish me luck! I’m also making some changes to my diet and exercise program, namely, having a diet and exercise program. I’m tired, I’m busy, and in the middle of all this are my boys. William has finally, finally, found a way to get out of his shell more. He’s talking more to us, instead of just near us. He’s turning into a boy who wants to do things! It’s so exciting, and when he wants to live out his imagination, I’m ready to join him. I really love it.

I made a comment on my facebook page the other day explaining why I might not be getting a new post up, and people seemed to love it. My assumption is that everyone thought it was sweet, and not that people were glad to have a break from me. So I thought I’d expand on our very important search the other day.

Several months ago, it was announced that Disney Junior was going to turn into a full-time channel. Melissa and I were overjoyed with that news. Why? CLEARING THE DVR! So many Mickey, Jake, Manny, and Little Einstein episodes clogging our system. So a full channel devoted to those shows and more, made us a happy pair. Of course, it took a while to be offered in Idaho, but we have it now! Along with all the normal shows that the boys were familiar with, came a few new titles as well as some Disney movies.


One of the movies, which I had never heard of, was “The Tigger Movie.” It was released in 2000 and as best as I could find, is the only movies involving the “Winnie the Pooh” characters where Tigger is the main focus. I’m not going to go into the details of the movie, though I will say if your child likes that silly old bear, they will enjoy this story. All you need to know for this is that at a point in the movie, Tigger and Roo are bouncing through the woods looking for Tigger’s family by yelling, “Hello? Tigger’s family?! Come out, come out, where ever you are!”

For several days, William had been saying something that typed out probably looks like this, “Comeonah iya are!!” Having my minor in toddler linguistics, I really felt like I should be able to figure out what that meant. I had no idea. Till one day we were watching the movie, again, and William joined in at that scene with Tigger and Roo using his gibberish version. That is William’s idea of, “Come out, come out where ever you are!” So now it was no longer confusing, just adorable.

With my role as William’s playmate becoming more and more involving, it generally means he wants more time playing with puzzles or drawing in coloring books…or any books. This week though, thanks to the folks at Disney, he had something else in mind.

I had just put Carter down for his nap, and William was running around in a mild panic downstairs having finished watching The Tigger Movie…again. While to me it was downstairs, to William it had become the world of his friends from the hundred-acre woods. I’m almost surprised that I was not scolded for tramping on flowers or splashing in puddles as I took that final step off the stairs. Honestly, I was hoping for a moment of rest or a chance to check over the latest post so I could publish it before we dove into play time. Not that day. William reached up for my hand, and I was not going to tell him to wait. For a few moments I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be doing, then William called out, “Hello? Tigger’s Fam-wee? Comeonah iya are!” Ah! We’re looking for Tigger’s family, and since William was leading me, I assumed he was Tigger which made me Roo. Stick the short guy with the little character. Funny, son.

So we searched. And we searched. I mean, our house is not exactly big so there was a few laps made. We hopped a little and we checked in some of the drawers, but just like in the movie we never did find Tigger’s family. All in all, our adventure probably lasted less than 10 minutes, but it was the first time William has ever pulled me into his world. In those moments, time really wasn’t the important thing, and running spell check on some goofy write-up wasn’t something I was going to worry about when we were working so hard to find a family of Tiggers. I made sure to reiterate a point made in the movie, that Tigger didn’t need to go searching for his family, they were right beside him all along. It’s true that I will always be here for my kids, but still, I’ll go looking for that elusive family tree whenever William is ready to bring me along again. I hope he does.

So yes, if you’ve found your way to my exit on the internet turnpike, I do hope you’ll stay a while. I hope you enjoy what you see, and I even hope you’ll recommend me to a friend. Perhaps even lots of friends?

But.

Know that there are days where I’m in search of a huge, striped tree filled with bouncing Tiggers of every color. There are days when I’m sharing a blanket with a special little man to watch Sheetrock Hills put on their brand new play, “Snow White and the Seven Tools.” Some days I’ve just got too much dad life going on, and that has to happen before any of this.

To the next adventure!

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What Can I Say?

If you are reading this right now, it’s important to know that I appreciate you. I’m thrilled that you have given some of your time to read my stories. My last post seemed very well received and was passed around by a few people, and I appreciate that too. The problem, for me, is after you post something that is a rather sweet, heart-felt moment between a father and son, it’s hard to know how to follow that. When I started writing this blog, I went in with every intention of keeping things real and honest, so there’s no way I’m going to make post after post about adorable little antics as if it’s a day to day thing. Likewise, my post for Metro Music Therapy in Atlanta, completely destroyed what I consider to be my “normal” amount of page views on an average day. Still, the long term answer can’t be selflessly giving out information (however much I believe in it) on the great things my friends have gone on to do with their lives. I only have so many friends, and sometimes I’m sure I have even less than that.

So the question remains – how do I follow up a post that found a great reception? How can I live up to the hype?

I probably can’t, but what a great chance to let out a little crazy for the sake of not worrying about a “great follow up post.” I was hesitant to talk about it, but Melissa insists that there are other people like me in the world. I don’t mean stay-at-home dads, I mean parents who’ve seen far too many episodes of their kid’s cartoon programs and have started to put too much thought into it. There is no rational way to ease into this topic, so I’m just gonna go for it.

Ev’s Crazy – Episode 1 – Handy Mannyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handy_Manny

  • Manny’s name is Manuel Estevez Garcia III, named after his father and grandfather (“Abuelito”), but while we see Abuelito all the time, there is only a small mention of Manny’s father. Equally his mother is only referenced once in the show and still we have no clue what happened to either of them. Better yet, there was an episode where Manny went to his family reunion and there was STILL no discussion of his parents. What the heck?
  • While we’re talking about family there is a specific episode where Manny’s sister Lola tells him ,”You’re my favorite brother!” to which Manny responds, “Lola! I’m your only brother!” Much later the character of MANNY’S BROTHER, Ruben, is introduced. How does that work? What the heck?
  • Parents who watch the show have long speculated on the relationship between Manny and Kelly, the owner of the hardware store. Questioning if they were ever going to get together. The makers of the show have insisted that making such a leap would not work with the show dynamic. They said things needed to remain open-ended with all the characters to ensure that the story for the characters wouldn’t really need to evolve. It’s a common issue for cartoon shows. It’s how “The Simpsons” has been on for over 1000 years and yet there is still a baby on the show. In a recent episode, Abuelito and Mrs. Portillo suddenly got married. These two characters have never really had any major interaction on the show, let alone something that would hint to the audience of any romantic connection. Even within the episode they hint at Kelly and Manny having feelings for each other. What the heck?
  • Kelly’s hardware store is basically two doors down from Manny’s workshop. In an episode, Manny and the tools need to get some glue, and bring it back to his shop. To do this, he puts on his work gloves, tool belt, trademark pencil in his ear (that he never seems to use), and loads the tools up in the tool box. To get a little bottle of glue. Two doors down. What the heck?
  • Why does Kelly carry absolutely everything on the planet? Why can Manny buy car parts at a hardware store? I’m willing to get on board that she somehow has everything they need to fix various home projects, but would you really look to the local hardware store to carry baskets to go on a scooter? A crank specifically for a BINGO wheel? All these odds and ends, and yet she had to order Manny safety goggles, which took a month to arrive. They have a store that sells ONLY gloves (Handy Hut) and yet the hardware store is where you go for a popcorn kettle? What the heck?
  • I worked for a construction company for a while. When you’re in that line of work, you start to mass a collection of various things that you know you’ll use later. Manny has jars of nuts and bolts around his workshop all the time, yet somehow he never has nails. He has the perfect amount of lumber for a job in his truck somehow, and yet needs to stop by to see Kelly if he needs goggles or a hardhat or glue. What the heck?
  • How was Manny able to restore a race car with a saw, two screwdrivers, a monkey wrench, a pair of pliers, a tape measure, a hammer, and a flashlight? What the heck?
  • The majority of characters appear single. There’s a disturbingly small number of couples. There’s something sort of creepy about Sheetrock Hills. There’s a sort of sinister quality to children appearing who seem to have no parents and a level of acceptance regarding potentially fatal situations. What the heck?
  • What is the deal with Mr. Lopart? He is the source of many issues throughout town. He’s in a constant state of failure and refuses to allow people to help him. Wouldn’t there be a point where you would stop asking if he’d like some assistance getting his foot unstuck from a bike rack or getting down from a tree? What the heck?
  • The Sheetrock Hills economic system. No one pays for anything. Ever. There was one episode where Manny was supposed to be preoccupied and was leaving the hardware store when Kelly reminds him that he hadn’t paid yet. I could hear every parent in the world screaming, “How is that different from every day ever!” Seriously, what the heck?
  • There’s an episode where Manny is drooling over a pair of gloves in the hardware store. The tools decide to try and get enough money from random places in Manny’s shop to pay for them as a surprise. Obsessed with getting enough money, Squeeze sees a coin in a sewer and while trying to get it, falls in forcing a very suspenseful rescue. At the end of the episode, the mayor ends up giving Manny a pair of the much coveted gloves. Manny quickly tries them on, much to the delight of everyone. Those gloves have never been seen again. One of his talking tools falls into a sewer for him trying to raise the money to get him these gloves, and when he gets them he doesn’t even have the common courtesy to wear them once in a while? What the heck?

I have plenty more, but not the desire to make this point that long. PLEASE, leave comments below if you’d like to keep the good times rolling, but keep it to Handy Manny. There will be other days where I need to vent some crazy, and so we’ll get to the other shows later. Seriously though, help remind me that while I may be going crazy, some others are going through the same kind of crazy. Furthermore, don’t let this scare you off, I’ll be back to more “normal” topics soon.

Thanks again for all the patience with posting lately! Adding Bonus Baby to the mix has given me some amazing perspective of parenting, but sucked the life out of me at the end of the day. I have a new level of respect for parents with lots of kids at lots of ages. If that means you, I think you’re amazing.

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Some days, you gotta dance

Some of my favorite blogs are written in a way that allows a ton of information to come across with very little effort into the words. It might be more work than I understand, but either way, I tend to be a bit wordy. However! This is a short one, I hope you folks enjoy the break from my normal novel style of posting.

Sugar – Flo Rida
Nuttin but Love – Heavy D and the Boyz
Heroes of Our Time – Dragonforce
I Would Do Anything for You – Foster the People
Life’s a Happy Song – Muppet Soundtrack

To the best of my knowledge, this is the list of songs that William has loved at some point in time. It’s an odd mix, yes, but I like music and tend to be all over the place with things I listen to. Every so often William just latches on to something.

After lunch today I decided to get a little head start on some cleaning, so while William and Carter were watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I got youtube up and going. My system for selecting songs on youtube is a very poor one. I start with something that I specifically type in and then I almost always click on the links to the right and just see where things take me.

Today it took me to “Love on Top” by Beyoncè. By the end of the song, William was on the stairs watching the video and was attempting to (I think) dance along. When it ended, I was greeted with the familiar “Play song!” from William which means…I want that again or I will scream all the screams.

 

 

So now that’s on the list…..

(I’m secretly okay with that)

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