Mar 062015
 

Hello all.  So I am back to writing my Friday posts all about being a Stay at Home Dad.

Last night I had a strange thought.  I was getting in the shower and there were no naked barbies in the tub.  Let me tell you, there is a creepiness that Mattel never intended with a Barbie doll that is your daughter playing with them in the bath, and subsequently leaving them there.  Without clothes.  Why? “Well Daddy, she can’t bath with her clothes on.”  was the logic from my oldest daughter, though she would probably deny that now.

 

Playing with the barbies in the bath would not be so bad, it is when I would go to take a shower and there were 10 of the things naked in the tub.  Made me feel quite creepy to tell the truth.  But last night there were no naked barbies.  Sure I had to clean up some hot wheels cars and a boat, but no barbies.  I had almost a nostalgic twang before the elation crept in.

 

My kids are growing up.  My youngest daughter is almost 9, and she rarely plays in the bath anymore, and when she does, she cleans up the toys.  The older kids just shower.  It is only my 4 year old son who has the bulk of the bath toys, and his are not barbie.

 

Mainly, I start thinking about how my kids are growing up, and the things that we are losing, or more correctly, just done with.  We start cleaning out things to send to charity, and many of the toys that we have accumulated over the years are not relevant or just not being played with anymore.  We don’t want to hang on to these, we don’t want to move them again.  We have thought about saving some for grandkids to play with in the future, but, looking at it, why bother?  By the time we have grandkids and unpack these wonderful (?) toys that we have saved, the plastic will be brittle, pieces will be lost, and there will be so many other new toys out there that it doesn’t make sense to save anything.

 

Some other things have gone away as well.  My favorite thing to get rid of was the diaper genie.  Now, the diaper pail is a great invention, and the diaper genie is great because it holds in some of the smell, but I’ll tell you, the day we thew that thing in the garbage 2 years ago I danced a jig.  We have finally now got rid of all diapers and pull ups.  Some days I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, it is easier to toss a pull up than wash out tiny underwear, but….I have a whole other post about potty training coming up.

 

In the end, there are some pangs of nostalgia for the things that we had to have when the kids were babies and now don’t need anymore.  There are strange feelings when you realize your daughter, your little girl, the one you held most of the first night when she was born the day before yesterday (now 14 years) now needs deoderant, or a bra….don’t get me started.  Or when your son starts to leak body odor like an Exxon tanker, and it is time for his deoderant.  Or when it is finally time to stop helping your kids bathe because they are just too old and it is not appropriate.

 

Yes there will be new things.  in about a year and a half, there will be a drivers license for my oldest, some pretty significant church stuff for my son, and school starting for the youngest.  Holy cow, I am getting old.  But I wouldn’t trade this for the world.

 

Until later,

 

-Justin

 

 

 

Sep 262013
 

I have been trying to decide how bad it is to wake up with Disney songs in my head. Not any of the traditional songs from any movie but one from a princess collection DVD that we have. I don’t believe that it has even been played since dialysis almost a year ago!

My point is this: how much time are we devoting to the minutiae that encompasses our kids lives? I know that most stay at home parents will know their kids fairly well. Nuances of speech and mannerisms can tell you more about your child than you realize. For those who work, how much do we actually know about those nuances and can we recognize them?

Very simply, the more time we spend with our kids, the better we willknow them. Sure there are logistics involved and places to run to and things that have to be done. Sometimes, spending “time” with the kids is running them around in the car. How well can you observe them while driving?

One of my favorite things to do is to watch them play outside. And by watch them I mean from inside the house. I haven’t used binoculars yet but I am not above it. Just watching them play by themselves gives you wonderful insight into their developing personalities.

One of my most favorite memories is of my son. He was barely 4 and had received a red wagon for his birthday. There is a small hill in our front yard and seeing him run up and down that hill, dragging that wagon for all he was worth and smiling ear to ear was one of the best things I had ever seen. I watch him now playing on the swings in the backyard and playing with the dog and I have one of those warm fuzzy feelings. The same feeling you get from a Norman Rockwell painting or one of those TV shows from the 50’s where life is idyllic and nothing can go wrong. What did I learn? The boy like to run and tow things. He has several trucks tied together so they can “tow like a trailer”. I let him help hook up the trailer when we go camping and he is fascinated by the interplay of hitch ball and coupler, let alone the safety chains.

Quick, when did your child learn to whistle? Time’s up. My older daughter still can’t. My son tries but doesn’t get much going. My 3 year old learned while on dialysis. She taught herself because Mickey Mouse was whistling and she wanted to try. It was almost embarrassing for the doctors to bring all of their colleagues around because this little 2 year old (at the time) could whistle.

It has been said so many times now that it is cliche. “Kids grow up so fast!” Cliche but true. My 9 year old lost a tooth last night and informed us this morning that she has lost 20 teeth because she has all of the golden dollar coins that she has received from the tooth fairy. She is saving for a pony. She is also sneaky. She writes quizzes to the Tooth Fairy and demands answers. I am just glad the Tooth Fairy answers her queries with the same enthusiasm that Santa Claus does.

My wife and I decided long ago that we would not push our kids into things that we wanted them to do unless they wanted to as well. We also decided that we would watch and see what they gravitated towards and nudge them that way.

My oldest has always loved animals but may want to be a Nurse like Mom. She is spending a week with my sister the vet tech on their farm this summer to learn more about taking care of animals. She is also writing a story that I am going to explore in another post. I may have her blogging by Independence Day!

My Son is almost 7 now but loves anything with wings or wheels. He wants to fly in the Navy. He also wants to drive fast. Personally I think he should be a NASCAR mechanic. We will have to see with him.

My 3 year old will probably end up in the medical field. She has a doctor set and doctors everyone just like she was doctored in the hospital. We have all had dialysis and transplants. She has dolls with kidney scars. Of course, she would love to be Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty as well. There is time.

Think of your kids. Do you know what radio stations they listen to? Do you know what movies they are liking as they grow up? My Wife and I are bad influences, Star Wars and Indiana Jones are among the kids favorites now.

Last preachy point. Observe your kids. Hang out at your computer and let them interact with each other, but watch them. Learn their intricacies. Play up their strong points. Help them with their weak points. Above all, Love Them Like There is No Tomorrow. They grow up so fast.

Sep 262013
 

8 months ago Tristan, my second son was born.  Despite everything that went on at the first, he is growing like a weed and doing all of the normal things that babies should be doing.  Even though he is my 4th child and I have watched the other three go through these same phases and it always amazes me that A- human babies do the same things as they develop, and B- they are constantly intrigued and amazed with the world.

Little brains are empty but tend to fill up with everything even though short term memory is really short.  String gets forgotten for toes, they get forgotten for remote controls, they get forgotten for the phone when it rings.  And put Mom on the speaker phone from work and the kid can’t figure it out.

Another fun toy: Ceiling fans.  Turn one of those on and it is good for at least a few minutes.  It is fun watching Tristan learning to rollover and try to crawl.  That should be sometime this week if it keeps going like it is.  It does really make me reflect on my other kids and how they developed the same way.  And differently!

Readers of this blog now know that my oldest is 10 going on 23.  Thinking back 10 years to when she was rolling over and trying to crawl puts somewhat of a sad smile on my face.  I love to remember all of them doing the same things but knowing that this is the last one is kind of sad.  Watching the baby jump up and down in the exer-saucer reminds me of my other son.  And how this will be the last one to use it….for a while.

The next 8 month old I will be observing will be my Grandchild, and good grief I am starting to think I am getting older.  I still feel like a kid but, wow.  So for now, I will be watching every tiny move that Tristan makes.  I have been very lucky to have been home to watch my kids grow up.  Seeing most of their milestones has been a fantastic experience that I can’t recommend highly enough.

It is fantastic even if you are not home watching the kids, it is exciting to go from something that just cries and poops to one that plays and is watching everything around his world with a smile to one who can do things for you and take the garbage cans out.  Benefits to having older kids even though I don’t trust them to mow the lawn; my wife wants to mow patterns and words into the lawn and I am not having any of that.

But back to the baby, we notice that he (like the others) finds EVERYTHING interesting.  Small bits of paper, shoes, and socks are great chew toys and I am convinced that it gives them a leg up on imagination later in life.  Case study: my nephew vs Cameron my 7 year old.  Nephew: loves sea life and dinosaurs.  Will play with them only how they were meant to be played with.   Cameron: loves cars and anything with wheels.  Plays with anything and everything in some way that makes them go fast and crash or transform into something else.  Drives my nephew nuts when a tyrannosaurus is riding a truck and jumps off to kill ninjas before the Army takes the dinosaur out.

Imagination rocks, I can’t wait to get him writing.  My 4 year old has a great imagination as well, the tales she was spinning for the kidney clinic staff the other day were hilarious.  The doctor was literally wiping his eyes from laughing so hard at this 4 year old in a princess dress.  I can only hope that Tristan will follow suit and be creative, just because we let him wander around his world and explore as long as he is safe about it.

I can’t wait for the long term ride that this is becoming.  Thanks for dropping by folks, there will be more to come I am sure.

-Justin

PS. I am working on a program that will be part instruction, part support group, part mastermind group and all about being a stay at home dad, released in modules until a whole book is finished.  Look for more details to come and let me know if you are interested in joining me.  Thanks again.

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Apr 122013
 

This post is about all of those things that get taken for granted with kids.  I am reaching a strange time in my life right now.  My kids are growing up.  and I am right along with them for the ride.  I have written about this before, I never really thought about my kids actually covering the space between about 9 and 20.
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