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Showing posts from 2014

Was it genuine concern for others, or am I being too hopeful?

In order to keep the peace toward the end of our shopping trip to Meijer on Sunday, I asked Gladys for a few pennies so The Kid could ride Sandy the penny pony. Sandy is an iconic part of the regional chain's history, enduring longer than tag-lines like "Meijer Thrifty Acres" and concepts like Sagebrush or SourceClub.

(Sorry for the Meijer trivia, I was an employee during high school and college. Some memories are burned into my head, including some of the lyrics to Merry Meijer Christmas.)

Anyway, The Kid loves carousels, so I thought Sandy would be a welcome diversion. I was right. After her second ride, I had exhausted my collection of pennies. When she got down, she was busy inspecting the horse and asking me to name all the parts of the saddle. Then she noticed three pennies sitting on Sandy's base, and wanted me to put them in so she can ride again.

"Not today, baby. You've already had two rides, and those pennies are for kids whose Mama or Papa don…

Is Thanksgiving too early to wish for a peaceful new year?

A year ago, we received a call that my mother-in-law was taken to the hospital. This time was different from the other phone calls we had received notifying us of another trip to the hospital for Rosa. The tone of voice my sister-in-law had was different. The circumstances were different too, she had stopped breathing for an undetermined amount of time and had not regained consciousness since being revived.

We called our employers, threw a few days worth of clothes in the the car, begged a friend to watch our dog Barney and hit the road for Tampa. The drive itself was unusual too, terrible weather had us crawling through Tennessee and caused us to spend an extra night in a hotel. Although we made it to Tampa safely, we know when we arrived that Rosa would not recover.

It was the start of an incredible year for my little family.

I made a point to see my grandmother when we were in Florida because she spent her winters in Port Charlotte, a little over an hour drive south of where Rosa …

The Kid is still talking about our Tahquamenon Falls vacation

Forget the fact that this August in Michigan's Upper Peninsula was colder than usual, or that we ended up spending way too much time in the car on our UP adventure. The Kid loves camping, and most importantly, loves Tahquamenon Falls.

Gladys and I bought a book for her on the trip called Get the Moose Out Of Life from a cute little bakery with great pasties called the Berry Patch. The Kid and I were reading the book a few weeks later, and she grabbed the book out of my hands so she could turn the pages. Her reasoning? The book was older than "Khamenon Falls" and she was the only person who would treat it with sufficient care.

Since that day, if she really wants something, she'll declare it's older than Khamenon Falls as her justification.

Just a few days ago, as we were moving our camping gear into the basement of our new house, she asked what we were moving. When she found out it was our camping gear, she declared she loved camping and wanted to go back to Kha…

I want to hate our old apartment, but I can't bring myself to do it

Yesterday was moving day for my little family. We closed on a house in Detroit a few weeks ago, one with the space we need for a growing-up kid and an active dog. The process for finding a house, having an offer accepted, and getting a mortgage written in Detroit is surprisingly difficult; but ultimately we were successful and I've been itching move in since we got the keys.
There are so many things I didn't like about our apartment. The elevators never seemed to work right, although I was only stuck on them twice in the two and a half years we lived there. Parking was easy, if you didn't mind a big hike to the door. The air exchange system for the building hasn't been cleaned in years, so I've had more sinus issues in the past two years than I'd experienced in the previous decade. The person who lived below us seemed to think our child should only be active between the hours of 9 a.m and 7 p.m.
Apartment living with a dog is pretty tough anyway, especially wh…

I dread hearing this comment, especially when it comes out of my own mouth

I was chatting with a friend on Facebook messenger a few weeks ago. He and his wife are trying to adopt, and the process has been tough. They have experienced several ups and downs during the process, so I always hesitate to ask how things are going because I don't want to pry.

But I did ask. And then I typed a phrase I dread hearing, "Some kid is going to be really lucky to have you as a parent."

I hate that phrase, and its derivatives, because it usually leads into a value-judgement about the birth family. Or it turns into a discussion about race, with the obligatory, "you know what I mean (wink)," thrown in at the end of an awkward sentence followed by me responding that I don't. Fortunately, that conversation has only happened a few times and only with people I don't normally associate with.

Do I overthink this sometimes? Absolutely. Most people mean no harm when they said it to me, or tell me how lucky The Kid is now. In fact, I believe they were …

Glad to see The Kid's foster mom get some well-deserved recognition

I can't imagine taking a child home from the hospital, knowing that you will be caring for the little one for a few months until an adoptive family can be found. While I don't think I have the fortitude to do it, I sure am glad people like Peggy and her family do.
I've written about The Kid's foster family before. They were kind and patient with us as new parents, and they gave us all the toys The Kid enjoyed while she was at their home. Most importantly, The Kid went straight from the hospital into a family full of love, and she continues to thrive because of it. 
Metro Parent Magazine has an entire feature this month about fostering, including features of a few foster families. I was happy when Peggy agreed to do the interview, and I was more excited to see her story in print. To grow up with parents who fostered other kids, then to decide to carry the tradition on is a testimony to a giving spirit. I can only hope others are inspired by her example.

A hug and an apology is just what this Papa needed

I'm not a big fan of the phrase terrible twos, mostly because I don't find much terrible about a two year-old. Sure, potty training can be gross and a small person with an incredibly hard skull head-butting you because she still hasn't figured out how to manage her emotions isn't fun. But regardless of how rough things can seem, two year-olds have an amazing ability to do something so cute that you forget just how frustrating they were just a few minutes ago.

Tonight was a great example.

Six nights out of seven, The Kid marches right up to the sink to brush her teeth. If you haven't already put the toothpaste on her toothbrush, she'll wrestle you for control of the toothpaste, but that's about as contentious as it gets.

Unless you caught her on the right day, and today was that day. She refused to start brushing her teeth, instead she decided that her toothbrush was a chew toy and started chomping on it. No amount of cajoling could get her to start brushin…

Excuse me while I rant about lousy parenting advice

Most of the parenting advice I get is to enjoy The Kid at this age as much as possible, and the reasoning behind that advice is either that teenagers are hellions (duh!) or the regret of a parent who frittered away their time with their two-year old.

Rarely does someone give advice that deviates from that, until they figure out we adopted The Kid. When that happens, people either insist on telling you all about their sister-in-law's best friend's first cousin who adopted a couple of kids, or they start to give you nonsensical advice.

My favorite, or least-favorite in this context, piece of advice was to heed the advice of all adoptive parents because they have a similar experience to ours.

That's BS.

This statement is a direct reflection on my outlook on the world. I wouldn't take career advice from someone with a job just because they have a job, or marriage advice from some random married person just because they are married, so why would I take parenting advice fr…

Being a foster parent is a thankless job. I want to change that.

Foster parents play a critical role in reuniting families, and in some cases, help fledgling families find their footing. Sometimes they take newborns home from the hospital, other times a social worker brings bewildered kids to them late at night to provide safe shelter.

But in all cases, foster parents have their lives scrutinized and thrown into chaos to help children. They aren't in it for the glorious financial rewards, in Michigan the clothing allowance for foster children hasn't changed in over 20 years. They aren't in it for the accolades, few foster parents see themselves as hero's worthy of recognition. They aren't in it for the personal affirmations, often the birth parents blame them for their shaky custody situation.

Why do foster parents do what they do? They know how much children need a place to feel free from harm. They want to see families reunited when possible and help launch successful new families when necessary. Some feel being a foster pare…

This little foot...

Editors note: I am not a poet. 

Two years ago, this little foot existed but I did not know the child attached to it.

Two years ago, this little foot was about to turn my life upside down.

Two years ago, I was hoping to become a Papa to a kid with a little foot just like this one.

Two years ago, I had no clue how much paperwork it would take to adopt the child who owns this little foot.

Two years ago, the child who owns this foot came crawling into our lives.

Two years ago, the child attached to this little foot crawled into my heart.

Two years later, this little foot has caused me to cry more than I thought possible.

Two years later, this little foot has dropped me to my knees a few times with an unfortunately accurate kicking motion.

Two years later, I chase the child attached to this little foot often because she is quick.

Two years later, I carry the child attached to this little foot whenever she is tired, scared or cuddly.

Two years later, I worry more about the child attached to…

If you've watched enough Sprout TV, you've seen these ads. I hope they bother you too.

We watch a fair amount of Sprout TV in our house (in fact, probably a little too much), specifically the Good Night Show. It seems that every time an episode of a show like The Chica Show or Sarah and Duck end, you can expect the next two minutes of airtime to be devoted to an ABCmouse advertisement.

While the advertisement shows you the stories of parents who are convinced their budding scholars are better prepared for school, the underlying message is that your child will be left behind if you don't subscribe right away.

This disturbs me.

For starters, children already stare at screens long enough each day, and it will only get worse as they grow into adults and adjust to a digitally driven world. The eye strain caused by all screens is great, and researchers are just beginning to learn about the long-term effects of excessive screen time. I can't help but wonder what programs like this, which encourage even more screen-time, will do to the physical health of children.  

Gumpy Bear is more than just another Teddy Bear

When my Grandfather passed away, one of the Hospice nurses asked Ema for one of his favorite shirts so she could make a memorial gift of him for our family. The nurse trimmed down one of his flannel shirts to fit a Teddy Bear, and pinned a horse lapel pin to it for good measure. That little act of kindness was a cute reminder of Gumpy that sat on the wall where the old Ben Franklin stove was in the living room of the farmhouse.

Gumpy Bear sat there for a few years until The Kid came along. Last summer, Ema brought the bear down from his perch for The Kid to play with. She dragged that bear, along with a few others, all over the house each time we visited.

When Ema passed away, The Kid was able to take Gumpy Bear home with her. She was happy because she has another bear to hug, one who's pretend diaper needs frequent changing. I was happy because she has something of Gumpy's to remember him by. She never had the chance to meet him, but I hope she will always feel she knew him…

The trust our daughter places in us

When Gladys and I met The Kid for the first time, we were nervous about how she would react. We promised ourselves that we wouldn't be disappointed if she didn't crawl over to us, or if she cried incessantly when she met us because that is what seven month olds do. Much to our surprise, our strategy of waiting for her to approach us worked well, because The Kid eventually creeped over to Gladys and fell asleep in her arms.

I never thought about how much she trusted us then, and how much she trusts us now until I read an iReport on CNN. The author, MamaHappyBee said this toward the end of her post:

Imagine if the moment that you met a new person – literally, the first moment you laid eyes on them – you were expected to live with them, trust them, rely on them for your every need, respect them, bond with them emotionally, and follow their rules. This is what children in care go through when they’re placed in a new foster home.As adults, we don’t build relationships that way, not…

Conversations with a toddler in a backpack carrier

The Kid has been joining Barney and I for our evening walks a lot lately. Once the weather broke, and I was convinced she would stop trying to climb out of her backpack carrier in the middle of our walk, adding her to our nightly routine has been amusing.

Our walk Monday night was a great example. Sunday was the first time she poo-poo'd in her Big Girl Potty, and she was still excited by her accomplishment the next night. She was so excited, she went down the list of her friends from daycare and told me if they pee-pee'd and/or poo-poo'd by themselves.

That conversation got us to the crosswalk, where she pushed the button so the cars would stop and we would walk across the seven lanes of Jefferson Ave. She doesn't yell at the cars to stop anymore, but she still waves as we walk by and yells, "Thank you car!" to every car we pass.

Once we cross the street, Barney usually has to relieve himself, which fascinates The Kid. She always begs to see his poo-poo, and …

An open letter to The Kid about Ema the Great

Dear The Kid,

I'm warning you now, June 18th is going to be a pretty tough day for your Papa. A year ago, it was one of the happiest days of my life. We were able to celebrate Ema the Great's birthday by going to court to finalize your adoption. I cried tears of joy knowing your great-grandma could witness the day the State of Michigan finally recognized us as a family, and that we could do it all on her birthday.

This year, we will be celebrating Ema the Great's life. If your Papa cries a lot that day, its because he misses his grandma a lot. 
I started calling her Ema when I was pretty little, kind of like the way you call Grandma Roz "Gama Gam." It was a nickname almost everyone in our immediate family called her, no matter how hard she tried to change it. Ema wanted you to call her Great Grandma, but I settled on calling her Ema the Great with you because I couldn't think of her as anyone other than Ema. 
Deep down, I don't think Ema the Great cared …

The Kid recognizing Ema the Great's picture was the chuckle I needed

On the wall of Ema the Great's kitchen, right next to the door leading to the back porch, is a photo of her and Gumpy next to a deer that was harvested from the back 40 acres of the farm. If memory serves, the photo was taken the fall before Gumpy passed away.

The Kid and I went to the farm today with Grandma Roz and Aunt Mary. It was my first time in the house since Ema the Great passed away, and The Kid was asking where she was soon after we arrived. I don't remember how I explained that we wouldn't be seeing her again because I was focused on not crying in front of my daughter yet again this week.

A few hours later, after we had ice cream at Mooville, we walked passed that photo and The Kid yelled, "Ema the Great!" and pointed emphatically at the photo. She asked me who else was in the photo, and she repeated Gumpy's name after I told her, then repeated Ema the Great's name a few times.

I had to smile because my grandmother was convinced that The Kid …

I suppose it is time to start watching my mouth

Tonight, The Kid and I were playing in the yard of our apartment building. We started walking along the back of the building for a change of scenery, and a guy living on the 10th floor of the neighboring building decided to throw open his window to empty the contents of a Ziplock bag outside.

I muttered, "That's classy."

My polite daughter yelled, "Hi Classy!" and started waving.

I have a feeling I know what Classy muttered, but we didn't stick around long enough to hear it all. I suppose it is time I start watching what I say around The Kid.

I’m not your typical Daddy blogger

I cancelled my Klout account a few days ago. I’ve had issues with their claims of measuring influence since the day I found them online, but I persisted in using them because I would occasionally get some cool swag for free.
The final straw was when I found myself trying to only share things that I thought would boost my score so I could get more freebee’s, which is exactly the behavior I detest from most daddy/mommy bloggers.
I tell my stories because I want to always remember how amazing my time with The Kid is, and how incredible my life has become with her in it. Anything that changes my approach on this blog needs to support archiving memories, and nothing else. 
Sure, I have a Google Adwords account that has netted me $13 since I opened it six years ago. Yes, I check the analytics on the backend of the blog, because I am always trying to become better at my craft. But I’m not in this for the money or the free things I can earn by pretending to like a product, unlike most other …

"Papa! Wakey wake! Max and Ruby on."

"Papa! Wakey wake! Max and Ruby on."

Those were the first words I heard when I woke up this morning. As I staggered to our living room, The Kid said, "Max and Ruby on!" a few more times. I couldn't figure out why she was so emphatic about me seeing this particular cartoon, because it isn't one of her favorites.

I turned the corner to the living room, and Gladys had Headline News on, not Max and Ruby. That's when The Kid pointed to the television and yelled, "MAX AND RUBY ON!"

Max and Ruby was not on because she was misbehaving, and she was hoping that Papa would give her what she wanted when Mama would not. Much to her chagrin, Papa backed Mama.

At least now we are sure that our daughter is a perfectly normal two-year old. And I'll be watching this episode of fatherhood a lot in the years to come.

Collecting my thoughts, or I'm too tired to make any of these ideas a full blog post

Sometimes it is better to just get thoughts out on paper, or in this case, on my blog, even when they are not fully developed. This is one of those times.

Here are some of the random observations I've made lately: Every kid grows differently, and disproportionately. The Kid, and her hands, are no exception.The Kid loves snuggling after a bath, and I love snuggling with her, but I'm always nervous that the only thing standing between me and a bunch of urine is a towel. She still mixes up Mama and Papa when she's excited, and I find the MaPa combination to be incredibly cute.My friend Max says he doesn't think the "terrible twos" are all that terrible, mostly because it is exciting to watch children develop independence. I want to agree with him, but I do struggle with the concept when she's half-dressed and planking while I'm running late to work. The Kid's favorite sentence in the world is, "I did it!"We still argue the nuances of what c…

One of the kindest things you can do for the parents of a two-year old is...

When you talk with new parents, they always talk about how exhausting the first few months of their child's life was, and reverently talk about the first night their child slept through the night. We never experienced that, because The Kid was already eight-months old and sleeping through the night when we first met her.

What we are experiencing now are the sleepless nights no one warns you about, those that happen when your two-year old discovers they can get out of bed whenever they want to and wander over to your bedroom.

A few days after my mom was watching The Kid for us on date night, and our daughter demonstrated to Grandma that she knew exactly how to get out of the crib, we decided it was time to change her crib to a grown-up-girl bed. We didn't want her to get hurt by tossing herself over the side of the crib, so off came the side of the crib and up went the bed rail.

Sleep and I are not always on good terms anyway, but The Kid's new-found freedom has complicat…

6 questions about adopting a kid in Michigan, a proud papa's perspective

Gladys and I occasionally field questions from friends curious about adopting. They are questions we welcome, because there are a lot of places people can get started and not many places where people are forthcoming with answers. Here are some of the common ones we hear. 
1. Why did you adopt through the foster care system? 
The first answer is cost. We heard horror stories of how much privately arranged adoptions could be, and we decided that wouldn't work for us. Our costs were for fingerprinting, court filing fees and extra copies of The Kid's new birth certificate. All told, the direct financial costs were under $300. 
The second answer is we felt it was the right thing for us to do. There are plenty of kids in metro Detroit that need a home, and according to MARE, there are approximately 3,000 kids available for adoption each year in Michigan. I've also wondered out loud why people are inclined to adopt internationally over adopting locally, just in case you're wo…

Struggling to make sense of the fascination with hair

There is more to the hair debate than just white women wanting to touch my daughter's hair. And no, it's not just tousling her hair, it's the full-on groping that I am leery of.

Three pieces of content have resonated with me lately. An article about the scrutiny Beyonce and Jay Z have found themselves under over Blue Ivy's hair caught my eye. It reminded me of the day The Kid came home from daycare with ponytails in her hair for the first time. I was upset because I took it as an employee at daycare thought we didn't know how to take care of our kid. After reading this, and many other articles about the reaction to natural hair on a black kid, I'm inclined to think I was right in my assessment.

Anyway, Americans of all races are oddly fascinated by the hair of a black woman. This video series is a fascinating look at the reactions of people to a film project aimed at letting people touch the hair of black women. If you are new to the discussion, take the time t…

When is Nick Jr. going to start giving dads a chance?

Nick Jr. has really ticked me off lately. They started messing with their morning lineup, and now I can't watch Little Bill before work anymore. And I'd much rather have Ni Hao Ki-lan or The Fresh Beat Band on the television than Max and Ruby.

Regardless of what's on, starting Friday mornings, they promote the daylights out of their NickMom project. I've tried watching a few of the programs to get what the deal is, and I don't understand how the vapid comedy displayed on Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor stays on the air. 
Sadly, the show is better than Take Me To Your Mother, which is borderline offensive because of her premise that she's an accidental mother who doesn't want to raise a jerk. First of all, how do you accidentally become a mother? Or do the show's producers think we're all rubes? On the subject of jerks, do boys automatically come out of the womb as a jerk? Also she's very clearly bothered that her son is a jock, a…

I'm hoping potty training dolls will lead to a potty trained toddler sooner rather than later

Saturday, I was driving with The Kid to visit friends in Cincinnati. She took a long nap, lasting most of the way from Detroit to Wapakoneta, OH. When she woke up, she informed me that the doll she was playing with, appropriately named Baby, was 'uckie,' which means poo-poo in The Kid speak.

We stopped at the Bob Evans in Wapakoneta so Baby could get cleaned up, The Kid could also get a clean Pull-Up and we could enjoy lunch. At least I assumed The Kid needed a clean up. Why else would she be telling me Baby was uckie, right?

I was wrong. As I gave The Kid a baby wipe to clean Baby with, and Baby's bottom subsequently received a thorough scrubbing, I checked The Kid's diaper. It was clean. I didn't have to change her Pull-Up until we reached our destination.

Tonight, her Hug Me Elmo doll needed to use the potty. Not the Big Potty that Mama and Papa use, but the training potty. The Kid opened the lid to the potty, sat Elmo down and instructed me to sit next to Elm…

Ready for the First Annual Fathers of Toddlers Games?

As the winter games in Sochi start heating up, and my interest in them is only held when I'm near a CBC broadcast of the games, my mind started racing. What's an average Joe like me, who has a toddler, thinks he could be athletic again someday, and has the remnants of a competitive streak, supposed to do when his dreams of competing in the winter games melts away?

Create his own games, that's what!
For example, in the travel category: Diaper bag packing dash. Dads get the opportunity to back a diaper bag suitable for a shopping trip to Costco. This competition would be timed, because everything is timed with a toddler in the house, and style points can be earned by going beyond just the basics of diapers and wipes. Your style points can be multiplied by the degree of difficulty, which is lowered by asking your wife for help.Road trip fight for the radio. Every father wants their kids to understand cool music, and the creepy nursery rhymes your little one learns in daycare a…

This might be the post my daughter hates the most when she's a teenager

Every kid says cute things when they are trying to learn English. One of my cousins used to have trouble annunciating the word frog. It sounded a lot like a versatile curse word that starts with 'F'. It certainly made his constant want of "Frog Juice" a lot more funny!

The Kid is no exception. I don't want to forget her learning how to speak English. She gets a little Spanish language at home and at daycare, but not enough to be her primary choice. But it is cute that rojo sounds a lot more like hoho. Anyway, here are a few of my favorite English gems from The Kid.

When a dust-jacket falls off a book, she brings it to me with me the book, yelling, "BROKEN PAPA! BROKEN!" until I put the dust-jacket back on. A friend bought a clock that glows a different color when it's time to wake up and when it's time to go to bed. The Kid knows that blue is for bed, and she likes to point to it when I'm reading a bedtime story. She'll announce it's…

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