Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Water Painting

1. Do your kids love to play with sidewalk chalk.....by scribbling DIRECTLY ON THE HOUSE?

2. Do your kids love to paint on just about every surface (the table, the walls, themselves).....EXCEPT FOR THE PAPER?

3. Do your kids love to play outside?

4. Do your kids like to keep cool in the summer?

If your answers are YES, YES, YES, and YES, then here's a fun activity for everyone.

Thank you to Mom-E for resurrecting this one (apparently I had a very sheltered childhood, because I'd never done this until a week ago).

I call it "Water Painting."

All you need to do is get a big bowl (preferably a plastic/nonbreakable one), fill it with water, get some old paintbrushes (the bigger the better), and tell your kids to "Go paint!"

I know you may get tired of me saying this, but one of the most wonderful things about children is their appreciation and passion for the simple things.

Both Big Brother and Little Brother absolutely LOVE this activity. They go to town painting the house and the driveway (and each other and Mom-E & I). They could care less that their medium is water.

In fact, they might actually help get rid of some of those sidewalk chalk marks still lingering on the house.

Of course, I'd NEVER start a water fight by flicking a wet-loaded brush at them. No, no, never, not me. (But if that happened, it'd be fun, not that it's ever happened).

The best part is that clean up is almost nil (though you might want to coordinate the painting before bathtime if you anticipate children getting soaked.) Little Brother usually dumps out the unused contents of the bowl, and the water paint evaporates.

Enjoy!

See you on Fatherhood Friday,
Busy-Dad-E

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Brother Explains Part 2

This week marks the second installment in our “Big Brother Explains” series, where my precocious 4 year-old gives a step-by-step “how-to” through his own eyes.

Last time, he taught us the art of “House Fishing.” This week, he’s going to teach us how to make a sweet paper airplane.

“Actually, Dad-E, it’s a glider.”

(He’s right, of course.)

“My Pa-Pa taught my Dad-E how to make one, and then you taught me.”

Alright Big Brother, you’ve got everyone’s attention, should we get started?

“Yep. I love it! It’s great!” (He said this before we even started making one for the first time.

“First, write you’re name on the paper, so you know it’s yours and not your Little Brother’s.”



“Fold the top corner over like this.”



“Unfold it, and do the same thing with the other top corner.”



(This folds an “X” into the top of the paper.)

“Fold the two sides of the paper inward…



then squish it down into the shape of a house.”



“Fold the two corners of the triangle up to the top.”



“Fold the top down about a half-inch.”



(If you’ve done it right, you’ll have two little “pockets” in the part you just folded down.)

“Tuck the two loose tabs into the ‘pockets’.”



“Fold the glider in half down the middle.”



“Fold one of the wings down.”



‘Fold the other wing down.”



“Last, fold the ends of the wings up about a quarter-inch on each side.”
“Ta-da. You’re done. Time to go outside.”





But wait Big Brother, what about Harry Potter?

You may remember that Harry Potter was injured in a duel as we were explaining "House Fishing." Sadly, he lost a limb in the duel, and as Madame Pomfrey has been on an extended vacation, he is still sans leg. Since he can't fly a broom very well, Big Brother has decided to let him ride on top of the glider.



Big Brother and I strongly suggest going outside to play with this one. If it’s a little windy and you throw it just right, it’ll “sail” pretty far. You want to throw it firmly but not too hard (in between throwing a dart and a full throw.) Just make sure you don’t aim for the roof.

It’s amazing how with just a couple of these airplanes gliders, you can entertain yourself for hours. We had a great time throwing them in the yard. We even talked a little bit about how airplanes fly. Again, it was another example of “it doesn’t matter so much what you do, but the fact that you’re spending time together.” Your kids don’t care about how much money something costs, they just want your undivided attention, which is priceless.

Have a good week,
Busy-Dad-E

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Adieu Football



Bon Vendredi du Pere, Toute Personnes! Thanks to the folks at dad-blogs.com for organizing this wonderful weekly event (even if I didn’t win their Big Spring Contest.)

Since so many of you requested more funny soccer stories (okay, it was pretty much just Weasel Momma), I figured I’d try to oblige one LAST time.

That’s because SOCCER SEASON IS (FINALLY) OVER! (Not that I’m excited or anything.)

I hope I won’t offend the mom of one of my players who reads this blog, but my guess is that she feels about the same.

Since I’m not excited, I won’t sing the following song:

“Soccer season’s finally over, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
I must’ve found a four-leaf clover, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
Oh no, tee-ball starts to-morrow, fa-la-la, fa-la-la, la-la-la.
No rest for the Busy-Dad-E, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.”

I also won’t share with you these top 10 things that I did during our last two soccer games:

10. Tied shoes (several times for several players). That’s going to leave a (cleat) mark.

9. Coaxed kids who were supposed to be playing to leave the sideline and come onto the field. (C’mon, you know you(r parents) want (you) to play.) By the end of the last game, I almost needed to start offering cash to get them to play.

8. Coaxed kids who weren’t playing to leave the field and go back to the sideline. (You didn’t want to play when it was your turn? Now that it’s someone else’s turn, you want to play? Did you come over to my house and watch Big and Little Brother play with toys? Even if it’s been two years since Big Brother looked at a particular toy, if Little Brother plays with it, then it becomes the hottest toy of the Christmas season.)

7. Asked the girls on the team to stop playing “tag” on the field. (Maybe if the YMCA started a Youth Tag league, the kids would show up and play soccer?)

6. Asked the boys on the team to stop playing in the dirt piles. (I started to propose a YMCA Youth Dirt Pile-Playing league, but the boys would just continue to play in the dirt piles.)

5. Escorted hysterically crying children back to their parents after they fell down chasing after the ball, were pushed down, or just started crying spontaneously.

4. Separated players from our own team who were fighting over the ball. (You’ll push and shove your own teammates to get the ball, but if the other team has the ball, you could care less. Hysterical.)

3. Asked Busy-Mom-E to take Big Brother potty during the game. Twice.

2. Carried Little Brother around the field while coaching to keep him from screaming. (Is he the coach, or an overinvolved parent?) Oh well, at least you don’t need your hands in soccer.)

1. Total number of minutes that I actually coached soccer during the last two games.

Let me just say that the soccer season ended on a somewhat unpleasant note for Big Brother. At yesterday’s game, it was unseasonably hot, and all of the kids were a little tired and cranky. Halfway between picking him up and arriving at the field, Big Brother decided he just didn’t want to play soccer.

Trying to change the mind of a stubborn strong-willed child is like beating your head against the wall (i.e., don’t do it.)

Eventually we did get Big Brother to play for one quarter. All it took was saying, “You can take your Blue’s Clues letter on to the field with you and play in the dirt.” He actually did engage in the game briefly, before returning to the dirt piles.

And of course, just as the game was finishing, he managed to throw dirt into his eye. This prompted a hysterical screaming fit. “My eye! My eye! I need a towel!” (There wasn’t a towel.) Big Brother was not going to calm down to let us do anything to help him.

Fearing a scratched cornea, I did the only thing a sensible thing a dad could do under the circumstances. I laid him down on the ground, pinned his limbs down with my legs, and squirted washed his eye with water from his water bottle. Ta-da!

Mom-E swore at that moment she saw a neon sign above my head that said, “Yes, I can control my child. Just not now.”

As much as I complained, it was a good experience. The kids had fun (at least when they were playing tag or playing in the dirt piles). This helped ease the pain of going 0-6 in our games, and losing by a margin of at least 5 goals per game. I had fun too, because for at least a moment (what now seems like a year ago), it made Big Brother very happy.

What else can you do with 3 and 4-year olds who really weren’t that excited about playing soccer in the first place?

That said, without a doubt, our team had the best, loudest, most high-spirited team cheer of any team in the league. Unfortunately, we made it a habit of checking our enthusiasm at the door.

Of course, I’m willing to bet that at the team’s end-of-season party, all of the kids will want to PLAY SOCCER! There can be no other alternative. I, on the other hand, will want to drink mojitos on a floating chair in the pool. Or, if there’s no pool, I guess I’ll just drink mojitos.

Tee-ball, however, will be even more fun (mostly because I won’t be coaching. At least until I get an email from the YMCA the day before saying, “Uh, we need coaches, or, uh, something bad’ll happen, uh, so we’re glad you’re the coach now.”) @#$%-ing YMCA!

So bring on the tee-ball! Wait a minute, did I just get excited about giving metal bats to 4 year-olds? Oh, am I going to have plenty to write about here.

Have a good weekend,
Busy-Dad-E

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Me Two

I've always been impressed with language development in children.

If I compare how well Big Brother talks at age 4 to how much French I could speak after 4 years of study in high school, I can't help but laugh at myself. Of course, "complete immersion" in a language makes a huge difference, but I still find his acquisition of language impressive.

And so, I'm really enjoying witnessing Little Brother's language growing by leaps and bounds on a seemingly daily basis. He still uses some baby sign language, but he mostly prefers to talk at this point.

I guess the pressure to "keep pace" with Big Brother has accelerated his spoken language skills. It's also a powerful reminder that our children are listening to every word we say, and echoing them.

I wanted to share some of Little Brother's current favorite phrases:
"No, mine!" (Self-explanatory)

"No my ride!" (When Big Brother is driving their little ride-in car and he wants a turn. Little Brother loves the "David" books (by David Shannon), which is where he picked up the word 'ride'.)

"Quack quack" (He loves the ducks in the little man-made lake in our neighborhood.)

"Chocka juice" (He's aware of Big Brother's love of "chocolate milk", even though he's stuck drinking whole.)

"Fuh fry" ("French fry." Anything that is cyllindrical--fries, carrots, pretzel sticks--is a fuh fry.)

"Okay?!?" (He exclaims this whenever we comb the dog's fur to make sure his companion is alright.)

"Tank-u!" (We're excited that this one has caught on.)

And just a few favorite words:
"Two" (He always requests one of everything for each hand. When Mom-E would give him a cracker, he'd fuss until he got a second for the other hand. Mom-E started asking him "do you want two?", which has caught on.)

"Lello" (The color of the month. Can't walk by the play-doh without him uttering this one.)

"Yesss" (Said like a snake with lots of S's.)

"Co-ey" (This is his word for "coloring." Again, if he spots anything that you can write with, he's going to ask to co-ey.)

"Apple" (This refers to ANY kind of fruit. That includes bannanas, grapes, and watermelon."

And so, in Little Brother's words, "Yesss, I'm going to go eat two lello fuh fries, an apple, and drink some chocka juice during my ride to the quack quacks. Okay? Thank you!"

What are your kids saying these days?

See you on Fatherhood Friday,
Busy-Dad-E

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dad-E Come Home

It's the phrase that tears at my heartstrings, the words that make my gut sink like dead weight.

"Dad-E come home."

I'll preface things by saying that I feel very fortunate in the current economic climate. I have a job that I like very much. My work hours are pretty regular and predictable. I have dinner with my family (and sometimes am the primary chef) greater than 90% of days in the month, and the few days that I don't are scheduled in advance. I have time to coach Big Brother's soccer team. I enjoy most every weekend at home with my family. When I have to travel to meetings, my family is often able to come with me.

Needless to say, I empathize with dads whose work pulls them away from their family for extended periods of time.

That all said, it's still hard for me to say "bye" to the boys (and Busy-Mom-E) in the morning.

I'd like to think that many dads, especially those with younger children, have similar sentiments. It's just that we often don't talk about them (but should.)

I'm torn because I love them and I want to spend as much time with them as possible, but unfortunately there's no such thing as a "complimentary paycheck."

I also know that by going to work (week)daily, I'm teaching the boys that work is important. I'm also fulfilling my mother's challenge to "leave the world a little better each day than I found it."

However, despite the noble intentions of these ideas, they often don't satisfy a 4 year-old who just wants to see his Dad-E, whether I left 24 minutes or 24 hours ago.

And so Saturday night, Big Brother called me, the first words out of his mouth being "Dad-E come home." "Hi buddy!" I replied. "Dad-E come home now!" he insisted.

There's no easy answer to this dilemma. It's a balancing act, and one that's much easier said then done. I think it's important to focus my time and energy on the boys (and Mom-E) when I'm home, which is still hard when you're trying to help cook dinner, clean up, finish the bedtime routine, etc, and you just remembered one more work-related email that needs sending.

Ultimately, one of the most important things I can do as a Dad-E is have fun with and engage my boys, regardless of what we're doing. So, we sing silly songs and play games like "aachoo", talking all the while about their day. And of course we read (a lot) at night.

I also try to do some extra things to make the boys feel special. We have "date night". Sometimes I surprise them with a "Blue's Clues" notebook or Monsters, Inc. socks from the $1 bins at Target.

Today, it worked out that after church and lunch, Big Brother got my undivided attention for a few hours (everyone else passed out and fell asleep). I took him to ride his bike (man is he getting good. I'll blink and the training wheels will be gone). We played some "catch" (T-ball starts in May = plenty of new blog fodder.) We skipped dirt rocks in a stream.

And then we came home and pretty much built/drew the Island of Sodor on our driveway. (Click on the picture to enlarge for more detail.)


It was a good day. I felt about as far away from work as I could possibly be (except maybe if Mom-E and I were on the beach at St. Lucia.)

Boys, I just want you to know that when I'm at work, I think about you and miss you very much. I know that someday (too soon) you'll come to understand more of this. For now, just know that you are my most important (and fun) job, and you always will be.

Have a good week,
Busy-Dad-E

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Goal!




Happy Fatherhood Friday everyone ! As always, thanks to the folks at dad-blogs.com for organizing this event, and thanks to you, the readers, for visiting.

This week I'd also like to say a special thanks to ShankRabbit for his "Have Friends. Get Music." contest. More cowbell!

It's been a few weeks since I've talked about Big Brother's soccer practices or games.

Due to the combination of spring break and rain outs, we didn't have any soccer-related activities for 2 weeks, until our game last night.

I was expecting that the long hiatus (2 weeks is long when the whole season is only 6-7 weeks), that my players would probably forget what a soccer ball looked like, not to mention how to play the game.

And things started off on the wrong foot when I was running borderline late from an all-day meeting at work. I had to change into my soccer clothes in the Port-O-Potty at the field. I was afraid that this would "set the tone" for the rest of the game.

Fortunately, I was wrong.

Amazingly, our team actually improved during the layoff. Go figure. Maybe exposure to my coaching made them worse? Don't get me wrong, we still gave up a truck-load of goals and we still had trouble keeping 3 players on the field at all times, but this game was much less lop-sided than others.

The most important thing was that all of the kids had fun. I had fun, too. What's not to laugh about kids kicking the ball in the wrong direction, or running full-speed for 20 yards after the ball has gone out of bounds (putting them right in the middle of the adjacent field)? And let's not forget a lots of crying because we don't want to play, and lots of picking up the ball with our hands.

And Big Brother earned the "Reformed Dirt Pile Player Award."

I'm not sure what happened, but his effort, listening, and politeness at the game was impressive and unparalleled. Did Busy-Mom-E sew magnets into his uniform that repelled him from the dirt piles?

In fact, he SCORED HIS FIRST GOAL! And the best part was that Grampap was there and videoed the game for posterity.

(For those of you keeping score, that means lifetime youth soccer goals for Big Brother=1, Busy-Dad-E=0.)

I must admit to being guilty of a little fatherly pride here. I felt imitating Steve Martin's "victory dance" in the movie Parenthood after his kid catches the pop fly that wins the baseball game for his cellar-dwelling team. Oh wait, I think I actually did a victory dance.

The most touching part was after the game, as I was putting him in his carset. Big Brother looked at me and said, unsolicited, "Dad-E, I love soccer." (And he said it again on the way home.)

Wow!

It's amazing how one moment of your child's happiness makes countless moments of frustration for you as a parent/coach just disappear. I'd go through it all again in a heartbeat to see him so happy and hear that reaction.

In a single moment, Big Brother summarized one of the core goals that I want for the lives of my children (and aspire to facilitate as a parent): I want them to pursue interests that make them happy and elicit their passion.

Maybe that interest will be soccer for Big Brother, or maybe it'll be something completely different. I'll support and encourage him either way, which is much more important than the "what it is" part.

As I strive to balance a full-time career, marriage, and quality time with my boys, it's moments (and days) like this that I'd like to bottle-up and store.

This is what keeps me going as a parent, what keeps me going through long days at work, evenings and weekends with the boys (and Mom-E) that slip by all too quickly, and long nights with Mom-E cleaning up the "aftermath" of it all--the gargantuan amount of mess (and dishes and laundry) created by small children.

Way to go, Big Brother. You made me extra proud to be your Dad-E today. And you always will.

Have a good weekend,
Busy-Dad-E

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ah-ah-aachoo

At Big Brother’s first Thanksgiving (he wasn’t yet a year old), he started to get really fussy at the dinner table. Out of desperation sheer ingenuity, I grabbed the only toys we had at the table: link-a-doos.

Impulsively Knowing exactly what I was doing, I scrunched up the link-a-doos into a ball, held them up to my face, and went "Ah-ah-aachoo," letting the chain of link-a-doos go flying out like a big snot-rocket from a fake sneeze snake in a can of fake peanuts.

Big Brother thought this was absolutely hilarious, and bursted out into giggles. Without further ado, Mom-E grabbed the video camera and I did it again, catching the same reaction on tape.

Because our family is crazy everyone wanted to share in the fun, we started passing the link-a-doos around the table. One by one, we each took a turn with a fake sneeze, and every time was just as funny as the first for Big Brother. The whole time, the camera was rolling (and so were we).

I'm thankful that no one laughed so hard they hit their head on the table and had to go to the ER for a head CT.

I guess that experience was too funny not to keep doing on other occasions made a lasting impression on me. Big Brother and I still like to play this game, particularly with a cup of water in the bathtub. I mean, what better way to rinse off then by having your Dad-E sneeze a cup full of water all over you. It still makes him giggle.

Just the other day both boys were in the tub, and I played the "Ah-ah-aachoo" game with Big Brother.

Apparently this reaction runs in families (or is just universally appreciated by children), because Little Brother also thought this was HILARIOUS! (An aside: I think the boys look like brothers the most when they giggle uncontrollably with an ear-to-ear grin.)

Little did I know what a huge mistake I'd made how much fun we'd have with this game.

The next night, I was giving Little Brother his bath. I turn around to get his washcloth. When I turn back, he has a cup filled with water. Without hesitation, he exclaims "Aachoo!" and proceeds to fling the cup's contents over the side of the tub, soaking his towel and my pants.

"Mom-E, my pants are wet! I need new underwear!" (What? That's what Big Brother would say.)

Before I can clean up the mess, he tries to do it AGAIN! This time I stop him, which only makes him giggle more.

After his bath, he was standing facing the fireplace (must've been looking at his reflection), playing by himself. He starts making a flinging motion with his arm, each time exclaiming "Aachoo!"

In our house, you now have to protect your face watch out any time you hear a little voice say "Aachoo", because a projectile toy is probably in the air.

Help! I've created a Sneeze Monster. (Mom-E, I need some Sneeze Stopper Slices!)

See you on Fatherhood...ah-ah-aachoo...Friday!

Cheers,
Busy-Dad-E

Monday, April 13, 2009

We Just Got a Letter

I hope that everyone is okay after the post-Easter_candy_sugar_rush crash.

We had an enjoyable weekend with friends and family. We went to church on Saturday night, because a friend of mine was being confirmed. Mom-E and I were a little anxious about bringing the boys, not only because of our typical experience at church, but because the service didn't start until 8pm (and you had to be there by 7:30 to get seats, and it lasted about 2 hours.)

Amazingly, the boys did pretty well overall. Well, at least for about the first 100 minutes or so. Big Brother only had to go potty once, and it was only toward the tail-end of the service that they had to be escorted to the vestibule.

Then fatigue and delirium took over.

By the end of the service, both boys were running around, giggling uncontrollably. Little Brother was barefoot, having long since shed his socks and shoes, spinning in circles until he fell over. Big Brother, though still in shoes, was busy skiddoo-ing here, there, and everywhere, and chasing Little Brother around.

(For those of you unfamiliar with Blue's Clues, skiddoo-ing is when you jump into a book and become a character within its pages.)

The boys were so jacked-up after church that even a 15 mile drive on the interstate couldn't put them to sleep.

On Sunday, we had a nice Easter egg hunt, lunch, and movie (or nap if you were an adult) at Gramm-E and Pap-Pap's.

One of the most wonderful things about kids is that you never know quite exactly what will excite them, and their ability to drive immense pleasure from the "simple things."

We've talked before about how kids often like the box a toy came in, more so than the toy itself. We'll, Big Brother took this even one step further this weekend.

Despite a myriad of candy, books, crayons/paint, and videos in his Easter Basket, his ABSOLUTE FAVORITE gift was:

The CARD from Gramm-E and Pap-Pap.

That's right, I said his card. Probably the first time in the history of the world that a 4 year-old was more interested in the card than the present.

Again, we return to Blue's Clues for an explanation.

In one segment in every episode of Blue's Clues, they sing the "We Just Got a Letter" song when they open the mail. Click here to listen to the song.

And so, Big Brother proceeded to reenact this scene with his card from Gramm-E, pretending it was a letter, complete with mimicking the hand motions.

He did it all day and all night long.

Literally.

He kept singing the "We Just Got a Letter" song:
-While at Gramm-E and Pap-Pap's
-In the car on the way home
-At the dinner table
-After going potty (even while his pants were still down)
-While lying in bed falling asleep last night
-While lying in bed upon waking up this morning

Below is a brief video clip of him singing part of the song. Thanks Mom-E for staying up too late and putting this together. Be sure to turn up the volume a little (and pause the music player on my blog). And yes, he says "I love skiddoo-ing" at the end.

I hope by exposing you to it that it will help get it out of my head. (Please get it out.)

Also, if you need to diagnose yourself or your child with a Blue's Clues-related disorder, check out www.mightystripedman.com/topten.html

Thank you, Gramm-E, for creating a very sweet little Blue's Clues monster. I know you had no idea that your card would make such a splash. Mom-E also had no idea what she had started she when Big Brother watched his first episode of Blue's Clues. :)

See you on Wednesday,
Busy-Dad-E

video

Friday, April 10, 2009

Perspective



Happy Fatherhood Friday! Thanks to the folks at dad-blogs.com for organizing this event, and thanks to you, the readers, for visiting.

I distinctly remember being in 2nd grade and thinking, "Man, those 5th graders are huge! I'll never be that tall."

Oh how in just a few short years those 5th graders became, well, short.

It's all about perspective.

I also remember our pediatrician telling us the best way to "baby-proof" the house was to crawl around on the floor in every room to see, from the baby's perspective, the whereabous of potential hazards.

And yet, how easy it is to lose that sense of perspective.

I've always found the best way to engage my children is to "get down on their level" when I talk or play with them. I was reminded of this today, when the boys and I were sitting together on the ground, digging a hole in the back yard with sandbox tools (which felt like Andy Dufrane digging his escape tunnel in the Shawshank Redemption.)

I'm not even going to bother going into why we were digging a whole in the backyard, but it was strangely fun and satisfying.

You may remember that last week we were at the zoo.

Big Brother has recently shown a growing interest in creative self-expression through art.

It started with drawings in his "Blues Clues Notebooks" (which for some reason always have Lighning McQueen on the cover, and lead to the beautiful, downloadable Busy-Dad-E radio button to your right).

Now, it's photography. If we get the camera out, you better believe he wants to take some pictures.

And so, I'm going to share with you some of Big Brother's pictures from the zoo.

Sure, some are slightly fuzzy or crooked (or have a finger in the way), but most important part is they're HIS.

In viewing the photos, it was very enjoyable for me to step away from the hectic pace of adult life, to get a glimpse of the world as it's seen through my 4 year-old's eyes. It was a powerful reminder to me to consider the world from HIS perspective, literally and figuratively, which I think can only make me a more effective parent.

Here they are:

"CAGE"


"PANDA"


"POST"


"SOCKS"


"BIRD"


"POLAR BEAR"


"STROLLER"


"EXIT"


"PEACE"

I can't believe how well this last one turned out, and how well it captures the peace and beauty of the season (from my perspective).



Happy Easter!
Busy-Dad-E

P.S. Please join us in praying for Stellan and his family.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pack Your Hat and Toothbrush

I've always enjoyed how young children get (healthy) obsessions with things. The repetition is an important method of learning for them.

Usually it's a particular toy to which they're attached (and can't leave the house without), or a type of food that they'll eat (usually to the exclusion of everything else), or television show (or even a single episode of a particular show) that they want to watch over and over and over again.

Of course, these "favorites" change (seemingly at random) over time.

The first two things above are usually pretty manageable. The tv show thing, however, is much more likely to draw ire from parents. (Big Brother recently made a comment about turtles while we were riding in an elevator, and I (accidentally) got the theme song from Franklin stuck in the head of a poor, unsuspecting mother (and now my mine and probably yours, too--"Hey, it's Franklin...")

Still, I chuckle a little when I overhear parents say "If I have to watch one more episode of (noun), I'll (verb)."

I'll leave the Mad Libs to you to fill in.

Anywho, Little Brother is currently in the midst of an obsessive phase about two such random things. (When he was that age, Big Brother was obsessed about his yellow blankie that Mom-E crocheted for him, and the phrase "dere's a guck (truck)" whenever he saw something with wheels.)

1. Hats. All of a sudden, Little Brother wants to wear baseball caps all the time. And usually not the same one for more than a few minutes. And almost exclusively ones that are not sized for his head.

He will practically drag me into my closet, where he has discovered the treasure trove of hats on the rack hanging on the inside of the door. We can't leave without taking at least 2 or 3 with us (and dumping the remainder of them on the floor). Then it becomes a fun guessing game about which of the 3 hats he wants to wear at that moment.

It's too funny to be frustrating, and he looks so darn cute with a hat too big for his head that falls over his eyes, which makes for a good game of peak-a-boo.
(Psst. I know it's you, Little Brother. I can tell because I'm holding you.)

When he gets tired of my hats, he then makes a bee-line for Big Brother's Lightning McQueen hat, which provokes a varying degree of tension.

It almost goes without saying that he never misses the opportunity to say "hat" when he spots one on somebody else in public.

When Mom-E was home with the boys on Monday, Little Brother had one had or another on pretty much all day, including during diaper changes. When I put him to bed last night, he wanted a hat in his crib. (Who needs stuffed animals, anyway?)

2. His Toothbrush. There's an episode of the tv show Monk where Mr. Monk (who is an OCD detective, for those of you who haven't seen the show) reveals that he flosses his teeth every 90 minutes.

If given unrestricted access to the bathroom, Little Brother would want to brush his own teeth AT LEAST that frequently.

Even passing the door to the bathroom causes him to exclaim, "Teeth! Teeth!" And if you take his toothbrush away from him before bed, he protests. LOUDLY. He'd definitely go to bed the with toothbrush if we let him.

The funny thing is that the most likely explanation is that he's teething, but if you give him a teething ring he promptly throws it on the floor. There must be something about those soft bristles.

Whatever makes you comfy, I guess. I'm not going to obsess about it.

As always, I'd love to hear about interesting things your kids have been (or are currently) focused on.

Happy "over-the-hump" day. See you on Fatherhood Friday!

Cheers,
Busy-Dad-E

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Brother and My Friend

Dear Big Brother and Little Brother,

Over the past few weeks—I can’t pinpoint an exact date—something special has happened between the two of you. You’ve come to a new level of appreciation and awareness of each other, and a new level of richness in your interactions.

In short, you’re becoming friends.

Sure, Little Brother, you still like to try to bite Big Brother when he won’t give you a toy that you want, and yell, “No!! Mine!!”

And sure, Big Brother, you like to (not really intentionally) knock Little Brother over like a bowling pin when you race past and crash into him while pretending to be Lightening McQueen.

But at other times, you share (usually food or toys) with each other, sometimes without prompting. You were both so happy sharing that ice cream cone at the zoo.

Busy-Mom-E and I have also caught the two of you laughing hysterically at apparently nothing at all, usually while spinning or running circles around each other. We must be on the outside of an inside joke.

Little Brother, you’ll also sometimes ask Big Brother, “Okay?” if something is not quite right with him.

Big Brother, you can be so gentle to Little Brother, even when you’re chasing him around the house.

I must admit to being ever so lightly envious of this fraternal bond. While I consider Busy-Mom-E’s sisters as my family, and not in-laws, growing up as an only child it was just me, myself, and I.

But that envy melts away when I see the two of you giggling uncontrollably at each other. In fact, I couldn’t be happier.

No doubt you’ll be each other’s best man someday.

In the meantime, please be gentle when you start conspiring to make mischief for Mom-E and I.

Love always,
Busy-Dad-E

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Zoo



Happy Fatherhood Friday, everyone!

At least the clock/calendar says it's Friday. Having just returned from a week-long meeting/"vacation", flying all day yesterday with two boys who decided they were on a liquid diet, lost luggage, and jet lag, my body is telling me it's "why-didn't-you-take-today-off-and-sleep" day.

During our trip, we took the boys to the zoo.

I imagine you're already laughing to yourself, "Busy-Dad-E, your life is enough of a ZOO at times, why do you need to visit another zoo when you're on vacation?"

I would have a hard time arguing with you, except that it makes my boys happy.

And so, here are the "Top 9" highlights from our day at the zoo.

#9 The number of times Big Brother had to go potty during the 5 hours we were there. (For those of you who like math, this is a trip to the potty every 33 minutes.)

#8 The number of animal exhibits we actually saw. (Note that we went potty more times than we looked at animals).

#7 The number of times Busy-Mom-E and I pulled the "if you don't stop that, we're leaving right now" card. We have a whole deck of those cards. They don't work, especially when your child (and their parents) is/are tired to the point of delirium. Definitely not a nominee for a "Great Moments in Parenting" award.

#6 The number of miles we pushed the stroller (or should I say carried Little Brother while the other parent pushed the empty stoller.) It still hurts my arms to type.

#5 The number of times we had to swoop Little Brother away from a "restricted area" because he was busy chasing free-roaming ducks, trying to feed them crackers.

#4 The number of limbs required to hold a child down in order to put enough sunscreen on to make any difference.

#3 The number of minutes (in 5 second intervats) that Little Brother wore the hat (aka spf 1000 for his head) we bought him. (Again, for those of you who like math, the hat cost about $5 per minute of actual use.)

#2 The number of ice cream cones we enjoyed together as a family. Talk about two happy brothers--oh the smiles and giggles!

#1 The number of gold-digging 2 year-old girls who put the moves on Little Brother.

Yep, that's right. Little Brother met his first girlfriend at the zoo. Her name was Jaylene, and their relationship lasted about 10 minutes. She was 2 years old and tan, with dark hair and pig tails. She walked right up to Little Brother, smiled, and even held his hand. Little Brother smiled, too. They started to elope (i.e., walked away from the concession area). He didn't even say "bye-bye" to Busy-Mom-E and me.

Next thing you know, Jaylene had taken Little Brother's bottled water. He was too shocked to cry. Her big (maybe 7 year-old) brother then entered the picture and started chasing her around. She coughed up the water bottle and lost all interest in Little Brother. Until...

A few minutes later, when she spotted Little Brother holding an ice cream cone. Wouldn't you know, she went right back up to him with the same coquettish grin. Fortunately, Little Brother was not to be taken for the fool a second time, and he spurned her advances(i.e., retreated to me to pick him up).

And so, Little Brother's first lesson in love was a harsh one: some girls are only interested in you for the things you have.

That said, we had a good day together as a family.

From my family zoo to yours, have a great weekend,
(Tired) Busy-Dad-E