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In The Presence of a Man

I lost my little boy today…

Last thing I remember was singing him to sleep and holding him tightly, promising to never let him go. This morning however, he crossed through the gates to the other side and never looked back.

I don’t even feel like I got to say a proper goodbye. One minute he was there and the next, gone. I just stood there in stunned disbelief, remembering all the good times and thinking about all the things I still hadn’t taught him.

I definitely wasn’t ready for this moment, that much I know for sure. He certainly can’t be ready for the next stage of his life. What if he gets hurt? Who’s going to be there to make it better? What if he can’t get his lunch bag opened? He’ll starve to death! As I went through all the terrible scenarios in my head, all I kept repeating was “This can’t be happening! This can’t be happening!”

The reality is, it WAS happening and there was nothing I could do about it but stare in awe of the fine young man my wife and I had created and raised. My little boy had crossed the gates into manhood and I’ve never EVER been so proud in all my life!

Our walk to the school this morning was a long one for sure. My son had no idea the emotions that were swirling around the minds of my wife and I, but hopefully someday he will. That pit in your stomach as you feel like you are walking the longest plank, to imminent doom.

I hope that someday he will get to experience this moment with his own children. Maybe then he will understand that all the crying and stress from his parents wasn’t about sadness or anger, but a totally different emotion that overpowers all others.

Pride. Because that’s all I feel for him on this day as he embarks on his new journey.

I’m proud of him for having the courage to take that next step. I’m proud of him for making sure to hug his sister before he left us today. I’m proud of how he coloured in the lines at the teacher interview yesterday and how he counted to 30 and sang the alphabet song as if he’d been doing it his whole life. I’m proud of every accomplishment he has ever achieved and everything he still has left to do in his life.

Everyone told me I would love being a father, but no one warned me about the pride. Seriously, why did no one tell about this part? How am I supposed to be “Big, Tough Daddy” when I start to well up when my son beams about passing his first swimming class? If that’s the kind of thing that sets me off, what’s going to happen when he scores his first goal in hockey? (Okay, we haven’t discussed sports yet but c’mon, we are Canadian!)

The important lesson I learned today is that while my kids still have a lot of learning and growing to do, so do their Mommy and Daddy! I have to learn how to deal with all these emotions while continuing to maintain control of myself. All I wanted to do after we dropped him off today was to curl up in bed until it was time to go get him. I didn’t do that, but it was definitely on my mind.

As it turns out, he did just fine at his first day of school. As he says “I didn’t even cry, not once!” and “I even opened my snack box and now there’s nothing left in it!” with that big ol’ grin of his. My son is more than ready for school and I couldn’t be more proud of him for it.

I lost my little boy today…but I gained a wonderful young man!

 

Something Made Me Very Angry Tonight!

 

I’m not perfect. Not even close really.

I have done things I am not proud of. Recently even.

I guess I’m lucky that my parents taught me the gift of humility and how to admit when I am wrong. This is something I hope to pass on to my kids as they grow older.

Another thing I want to pass along to them, is that bullying is not acceptable. Not in any way, shape or form. I want them to know that it’s not okay to bully someone and it’s equally not okay to get bullied themselves.

While surfing Twitter tonight, my friend and local radio DJ Katherine Dines posted a link from a young girl named Sarah.

I was curious, so I clicked on it and it led me to the video clip you are going to watch right now. Please watch it.

http://yfrog.com/7go3gmlclcauebxjgqcyzjuvz

That brings me to the part where I got Angry. And Sad. And Emotional. Then Angry again.

What kind of human being bullies a beautiful person like this? My mind is aching at the thought of what life must be like for Sarah and all the other kids who have to deal with this on a daily basis. Most of whom suffer in silence.

I don’t want to do the “Blame the Parents” thing for the bullies because I don’t know their situations, but as parents, we have to do a better job of educating our children on the effects of bullying and why it’s important for them to not behave that way.

Admittedly, I’m not up to date on the Bullying Awareness campaigns that are going on around the world. Possibly because I have very young children, possibly because before I found blogging and social media, I was fairly sheltered. Either way, this one touched me tonight and made me think about my son, who starts school next week.

What if it happens to him? I want him to be able to come to me if it does so I can deal with it and not have him suffer alone. Alternatively, I need him to know that it’s not acceptable to do this to others.

We can’t end this problem without brave people like Sarah, who have chosen to put themselves out there for the world to see what is going on and I applaud her for sharing her video.

So here’s my plan. I thought it would be cool if we all gave Sarah a follow on Twitter and let her know that she doesn’t have to suffer by herself anymore. You can find her at @LuckyElizabeth2 and I’m sure she’d love to hear from you!

I realize that’s it’s only one person but isn’t lifting one up better than none at all? No one deserves to be treated this way, no matter what their situation is. Let’s start tonight, with this one brave girl and see where it takes us!

Cheers!

Not Your Ordinary, Everyday Bunnies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a short post today as I get myself back into the swing of things after a long and very enjoyable vacation! My daughter has recently discovered the joys of music and dancing but there is one song in particular that she can’t stop listening to.

Seriously, she literally will not stop listening to it and if I turn it off, we get an epic meltdown every time!

That song is called Sleeping Bunnies by The Derry Hares and my little one can’t get enough of it. It’s so amazing to watch her dance and sing to the song that it almost makes you forget that you have listened to the song 31 times in a row!

I decided to take a video of her so you can all see just how much she loves it and got an added bonus when my son noticed the camera and decided to join in. He is a spotlight hog just like his Dad!

So without further blogging, here are my kids doing their interpretive dance version of Sleeping Bunnies.

Cheers!

The Smile That Stopped The World

It’s no secret that as our children get older, they need us less and less. I’ve already begun to see the signs of this with my 4 year old son as he sets out on his path to independence. He recently started his first “no parents allowed” swimming class and it is devastating and exciting all at once.

For some reason, even though I’d been through this with my boy, I thought that my little girl would be, well, my little girl, forever. Every day that passes I see her learning more and gaining the ability to do the little things that Daddy used to help with.

She can do up her own seatbelt in the wagon now, Daddy used to help with that. She doesn’t need Daddy to help her much at the park any more because as she says “No, I Can Do It!”. She doesn’t even need me to help her down the stairs any more, even though I still stand there, hovering over her, sometimes even hoping she’ll slip up a bit so Daddy can catch her.

That sounds harsh and it’s not that I want her to get hurt, it’s just that I want to show her that I am still useful. I want her to need me as much as I need her to need me. I know there’s a next stage of her life, where she’ll need me for a lot of other things, like riding a bike or eating an ice cream cone but I’m just not ready to go there yet.

There’s something about the sincere joy in her eyes when she sees me come in the door from work, that makes my heart ache for the day when I walk in and she just nods and carries on with her day. I dread the day when her excited screams of “Daddy, Daddy!” change to a “What’s Up?” as I enter the room.

She doesn’t know it but she has the ability to stop my world on a dime with a simple unforced cuddle. With a smile, she takes away all my worries and troubles, even if just for a split second, which is long enough.

I’m not sure what brought this on tonight. Whether it was the terrible things happening in the world right now or the realization that kids get older and need us less; or maybe a combination of both.

There is one thing I do know though.

I danced with my little girl this afternoon and as I twirled her around in my arms, in that moment, we were both completely and utterly happy. Most likely for different reasons but happy all the same.

I realized today that it’s okay for my kids to get older and it’s okay for me to be scared about that. What really matters is that I take a moment every now and then to stop and truly appreciate everything I have in them.

There’s no way of knowing what’s in store for them, so all we can do is show them that we are here for them when they need us. To give them all the love that a parent possibly can and hope that someday they are able to share that love with a family of their own.

Kids may grow up and need us less but until that happens I am going to continue to enjoy the moments that bring my world to a stand still.

Cheers!

Raising Children Without A Father Of My Own

“Daddy, did Grampy die and go to heaven?”

“You bet, buddy”

“Why?”

“He had an accident and didn’t get better, but he was a good man and gets to go to heaven”

It was 5 years ago this August and every day is a reminder of the great loss we suffered that day. My 4 year old son never met my Dad and doesn’t really understand the concept of life and death. He doesn’t understand heaven either but then again, who does?

In a cruel twist of fate, my father passed away on the same day that we found out we were pregnant with our first born. At the time, we used that as a way to help deal with the pain of the loss by saying that he lived on in my son. I never really believed it but when you lose someone, you tend to take any positive thoughts you can get.

I’m not an overly spiritual person, so to me, the reality was that it was just his time to go. It wasn’t an easy time. I went trough a very dark transition following that day and essentially missed the first year of my son’s life. Constantly feeling like my world was caving in, spending countless days and nights in hospital emergency rooms, trying to figure out what crazy disease I was suffering from this time.

It wasn’t until one of the doctor’s referred me to a psychiatrist that I really started to see what I was doing to myself and my family. I don’t know what it was that snapped me out of it. Maybe the thought of losing my wife, or knowing that I was completely letting my son down, which didn’t seem very fair considering how great my Dad was.

Point is, I decided it was time to man up and cut the “Woe is Me” act out of my day to day. Almost overnight, I managed to shake it all off and began acting like the man my family needed me to be.

I’m certainly not perfect. I have bad days just like everyone else and I don’t have all the answers to the mystery that is raising children. I’m not even a great husband but I’m working on it.

As my kids are getting older, I’m noticing more and more the extreme void that was left by my father not being here. There are so many things that I don’t know how to do and it’s frustrating/upsetting/devastating when I realize that my Dad isn’t there to ask for help.

It’s important for me to note at this point, that I mean absolutely no disrespect to the 2 men I call Father in Law’s. They have done nothing but treat me with the utmost respect and have helped myself and my family more than most people could ever understand. They’ve accepted me as if I was one of their own and I love them for that.

There’s just something about being able to talk to your Dad. To be able to ask the questions that you don’t feel comfortable asking anyone else on this earth. My Dad was a great listener too. He never once made me feel stupid for having questions or asking for help and I miss being able to do that. One of the last things he did before he passed, was to help me build a fence in my yard. Do you think I know how to do that? No way!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never have that luxury again, and it is a luxury. Instead, I do the uncomfortable begging to friends, family and neighbours whenever something arises that I don’t know how to do or can’t do by myself. And it happens a lot. I’m blessed with good people in my life, which makes it a little easier.

It doesn’t change the fact that I feel ridiculous to have to ask my neighbour to take time away from his family to help me install a screen door; or constantly bother my friends to help me with two man tasks that most guys my age do with their fathers.

And it still hurts when I see how much fun my friends parents have with their grandkids. In fact, anytime I see any kid with their Grandparents (even my own), I get the sting in my chest. My Dad would have been an amazing grand father. He dedicated his life to coaching kids and I know that he would have loved them to death and probably would have turned them into big time athletes!

In the end, I’m left to wonder what might have been as I navigate the often complicated world of raising children. But I’m still happy. I have a lot of amazing people in my life, who are always there for me whenever I need them. I still have my Mom, who is an amazing woman and who loves her grand kids! I love my kids and my wife and we have a great life together, filled with fun and laughter!

I know I’m not alone with this struggle either. Some of my close friends have been dealt the same cards as me, but we don’t really talk about it. Instead we act tough and pretend to be superheroes, I’d be Batman by the way, until the pain passes and we get back to normal lives.

I was lucky enough to be blessed with a great Dad and even though he left us way too soon, I have the memories and lessons he taught me. Which were many. I can only hope that someday my kids can look back and say the same about me.

The Pez Potty Training Method

No. I didn’t start a job with Pez. I can’t imagine a world where I would be lucky enough to work in a Pez Factory.

My daughter has recently begun Potty Training and as most parents will attest, the best way to keep them interested in this monumental event, is with incentives.

My son, who was brilliant beyond his years, held out for Diecast Cars from the Cars the Movie. That meant we were paying a whopping $5.99 per poop! If this were possible in the real world, we would all be billionaires!

Eventually, the balance of power shifted back to us, after we convinced him that stickers were just as cool as cars….

Now it’s my daughter’s turn to lower our diaper bills and we made sure to be prepared this time! We knew she loved two things, stickers and candy. After all, what little kid doesn’t love those things?

The stickers were first and failed miserably. They’d fall in the potty, end up on my socks & we never seemed to have the one sticker she really wanted!

That’s when we introduced her to her first Pez dispenser. It was Belle from Beauty & the Beast, a character she was very familiar with, even as a 2 year old. Little Girls and princesses, you know!

In a move much like her brother had pulled, she quickly conned us into giving her waaaaaay more candy than a 2 year princess should ever eat! We had been giving her a candy every time she said she had to go to the potty. You can probably guess what happened next…..

Every 30 minutes she would scream “Pee Pee Potty!!!”, “Pee Pee Potty!!!” and we’d trip over each other like the ice cream man was outside, to get her on the potty! Only to find out that she was using us for the candy. At one point, she even stopped taking the candy out of the dispenser herself, instead opting for the “Daddy Do It!” approach, which I totally fell for.

We eventually caught on to her little game and adjusted the rules for dispensing candy. She would receive 1 candy for what we deemed to be “legitimate” attempts and she would get 1 more candy upon completion of the transaction.

We are proud to report that it has now been 2 full weeks with only one or two accidents and we couldn’t be prouder of our little monkey! We have saved a ton in diapers and wipes, with our only major expenses being Pull Ups and Pez Refills!!

Way to go Girlie!! We’re so proud of you!

And Thank You Pez!

Did you use incentives to help your kids Potty Train? I’d love to hear what worked/didn’t work for you!

Cheers!

The Never Ending Knock Knock Joke

 

 

You’ve heard it a million times before, “Knock, Knock!” “Who’s There?” and so on and so forth.

Rarely, if ever, are they funny enough to warrant even a phony giggle. Even the dirty adult ones aren’t overly funny.

That all changes when the joke comes out of the mouth of a small child, doesn’t it? We roar with laughter as the punchline rolls out, as if it’s the funniest thing we’ve ever heard in our lives.

The funny thing about it, for me at least, is that the laughter is completely genuine. Something about the fact that your child understands the humour in it, is comforting and hilarious at the same time.

Almost as if you have done your job as a parent by teaching your kid the lighter side of life and that being funny is okay.

That brings me to today’s post. My son, at age 4, has learned his very first Knock, Knock joke. In true child form, he immediately forgot it, which brought on this video of him reciting what may be the longest Knock, Knock joke of all time.

Enjoy!

PS – He was trying to do the one that ends with “Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana”. I tell you this because there is no way you would have guessed it from this….

Way to go buddy! Better than Daddy could do!

Cheers!

5 iPhone Apps My Kids Can’t Live Without

Yeah I know, over dramatic post title, right? Well, you try writing a blog and figuring out how to get people to read it, OKAY!

I’m sorry, it’s 1 o’clock in the morning and I have put this one off all day due to being lazy at work.

Still friends? Good!

Back to the point of the story, my kids are ages 2 and 4. I occasionally let them play on my iPhone, as does my wife, and I thought I’d share with other parents out there, the games that keep the kids occupied, while also stimulating their minds…..sometimes.

I get it. Letting the kids watch TV and play video games is lazy parenting. Well, I have some news for you: I’m Not Perfect!

Every now and then, while waiting for our food at a restaurant or after a really tough day at the office, I’m cool with passing the iPhone to one of the kids for a couple hours minutes. It keeps them occupied and in some cases, can even help out in an educational way.

So without further ado, I let you in on the iPhone Apps my kids love to play!

#5 – Talking Bacteria John by Out Fit 7 Ltd. – This is probably the most ridiculous App I’ve ever seen but the kids laugh harder at this one than any they’ve played so it makes the list. It provides no educational or emotional value, unless you count laughing as a value. It’s basically a bunch of blue blobs floating around that repeat everything you say and you can feed them donuts. They also have an infectious and irritating laugh that keeps you coming back for more!

#4 – Sesame Street: The Fix-It Shop by Sesame Workshop Apps – It’s got some cool features like stories and recording and blah, blah, blah. My kids love the coloring book feature on this app. My daughter will play this until I yank it out of her screaming hands! The only issue with this one is that she doesn’t know how to change colors, so she asks every 30 seconds…

#3 – Shape-O by Bellamon – Now we’re getting to the good stuff! This puzzle game is really incredible and I’m so glad my son loves it! There are tons of puzzles, where you not only place the pieces but also have to match the letters in the word before you can move to the next puzzle. This is a great one and I highly recommend it!

#2 – Garage Band by Apple Canada Inc. – The funny thing about this one is that it was MY app for my band. We are able to share new sounds and vocals through this app and it’s very useful for our music. And then my kids heard me playing on it and stole it from me. Now my son and daughter fight tooth and nail to see who is going to get to pay drums and keyboard and guitar! I secretly love that they love the music because that’s something I can share with them. It came out of nowhere but this one is great for kids to make and record music.

#1 – Angry Birds by Rovio Mobile – Was there any doubt about this one? It’s the classic time wasting game and the kids love it! I don’t even know what to say about this game that you don’t already know. Addictive is the word I would use to describe it. Like I always say, “When in doubt, Kill some green pigs!”

 

That’s it for my list. I wasn’t paid by any of these companies, nor do I ever plan to be, lol. My kids just love these games and I thought other lazy parents could benefit from the recommendations.

Honorable mentions to Flick Home Run, Cars 2 & Talking Tom & Ben News. All great in their own way but just not quite loved enough to make the Top 5!

I hope you enjoyed the list and please feel free to share your favorite apps in the comments section!

Cheers!

What Do Dads Really Want For Father’s Day?

So in a complete brain fart move, I forgot to mention that I was asked to become a part of the Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA) Blogaholics team. An invitation which I proudly accepted. You can find my musings here!

The PTPA is gearing up for Father’s Day and as a father myself, they’ve enlisted me to poll other Dads in order to let them know what we think.

I’m not asking you to do a lot of work, I know how busy you all are with your blogging and kids and golf! All I need is for you to answer these two questions.

1 – What do you really want to receive for Father’s Day?

2 – How do you want to spend the day?

That’s it! Two simple questions and you’re done. Leave a comment, send me an email, FB, Twitter, you know the drill!

In the meantime, I’ll give my answers in hopes of sparking some further dialogue.

What I really want for Father’s Day is a MacBook. What? It’s what I really want! Okay, okay, what I really want is something cool from my kids. My wife comes up with the best crafty ideas for the kids to make for me and I honestly love it. Cheap but extremely effective! From paintings to photo coffee mugs, they are all incredible!

As for what I want to do that day, we have a great event happening in Ottawa, called the Alterna Ultimate Run for Men’s Cancers. It is a cancer fundraiser but also has a great kids zone with a lot of fun family things to do. I am not a runner but I’d love to spend the day there having fun with my family, while also supporting a great cause.

See, that was easy and painless. Just leave me a note in the comments section and tell me what you really want. Your wife thinks she knows….but she doesn’t know. Help her out man!

Cheers!!

Lucas Sings Episode 1 – My Toddler Composes Original Music

Recently, my 4 year old son has been infatuated with watching himself on video. In order to make sure that he gets ample time in front of the camera, he’s been composing original songs and notifying me whenever he has a new piece ready (every 8 minutes).

In an attempt to create a bank of embarrassing material for future use, I’ve decided to being sharing these shongs with you in a new segment I like to call “Lucas Sings”.

Every week, I’ll post a new video of him performing his original material. Sometimes it may sound similar or even like a blatant rip off of another song, but I assure you he’s tweaked all of them and made them his own.

Oh, and don’t worry about this segment running out of material as I already have a year’s worth of songs ready…

I have not copyrighted any of these so please know that if you steal any of them, you are stealing from a young child and most likely killing an angel in the process.

And now, with further Dudes, Here he is!

You’ll note that when he says “Bad Birds” at the start, he’s referring to Angry Birds. Also, his signature sign off seems to be “I wanna see my video”. He’s definitely NOT an attention seeker like his Dad….

Cheers!!