30 November 2007
First off, even before I found out that a mother's temperature increases by 1 degree after birth so that the baby can stay warm while nursing did I believe that women are superior to men in many, many ways. What Tonya went through to get us where we are with Ethan is more than an army men could do any day.
With that being said, here is a notable exception of what women can NOT do better than men: BE MEN. Seems obvious right? Well, the Keaton movie aside, how about we let Mom be Mom and invite and encourage Dad to be Dad?
I have seem some dominant women 'mute the manhood' of their spouse because the man was not doing (fill in the blank - use your imagination) right. Eat olives out the jar with a dirty steak knife? Okay, we'll give you that one. But, please, if Dad wants to delay a meal for 5 minutes so that he can connect (play, wrestle, practice putting, etc.) with their baby after a long day away at work ... is the baby's future better served by that or by conforming to a strict Mom-designed feeding regimen?
The aforementioned was a scene played out some time ago in front of me and Tonya. Is this kid now an axe murderer? Unfortunately, Yes! Well okay, no, just kidding, but what would that couple have gained if they had celebrated, instead of ridiculed the earnest input of the Dad? What did they end up losing? In that instance the Dad walked away from his baby after being scolded for interrupting the Mom's master plan; and he surely had less of an incentive to initiate such spontaneous contact in the future.
To quote one the great philosopher's of the modern era, Rodney King: "can't we just all get along?"
So to the mom's out there driven to create a little nirvana for their kiddos ...intentional or unintentional...don't forget that kid's need their Dads too; Dads that need to be more than just a male facsimile of Mom.
What makes a Dad? Sugar and Spice and everything nice? Not exactly. Again, "Dad" is a title, kind of like plumber, politician or dog catcher...it is just a title. And like we talked about previously, titles are what you make of them.
29 November 2007
Factoid: Did you know that the condition known as the Stockholm Syndrome is named after a 1973 bank robbery gone awry - in Stockholm Sweden, duh - where the hostages became enamored with their hostage takers and even defended them during an escape attempt? Now you know.
Sweden is also the originating country for IKEA, which is a pretty nifty store full of home goodies of every conceivable variety. Highly creative stuff of okay quality at an okay price. Clever folks, those Swedes.
Speaking of Swedes, we are approaching the annual airing of the Muppet's Christmas DVD. For those a little slow on the uptake, one of the Muppet's is a Swedish Chef named "Sjøø Hjørste Früden de Gooste Boodne Oonde oot te Fæbbe Sjørt-Fÿrste de Børnd", a/k/a TOM. I remember fondly watching the Muppet's as a kid and giggling at all the skits. Jim Henson: another clever dude. I hope he is Muppet Heaven somewhere.
Speaking of chefs, Tonya whipped up a cherry pie the other night that was terrific. It was one of those that looked soo purty that you didn't want to eat it. But, being the shameless heathens that we are, we did anyway. Even young Ethan showed some appreciation by trying to wiggle jiggle his way toward a piece. Nice try fella...but your diapers are not ready for reconstituted cherries.
Speaking of wiggling and jiggling.....well, never mind. I promised Tonya I would keep it clean.
For those who bet whether I would ever weave Cereal Box, Sweden, Cherry Pies and the Muppet's into one post, enjoy your winnings. Gosh, what will I think of next?
28 November 2007
There was a horrid story recently out of Galveston Texas about a little girl who was reportedly brutally murdered by her biological mother and step father. Assumedly, after she was dead, she was crammed in a suitcase and dumped in the Gulf of Mexico. Her badly decomposed body was discovered several weeks later after washing ashore.
I vow to not drift into the dark side that often but this story chaps my butt. My interest is two-fold.
First, as a search & rescue professional, I have searched for many children that ended up being the victim of a homicide and disposed of like trash. The experience changes you. The dedicated officers and investigators that have worked this case in Galveston will be changed too and my heart goes out to them; and also to their families that will try to give them a safe place to land, but will be on the outside looking in, in order to be spared the burden of internalizing the horrific details.
Second as a Step Dad, I am saddened that a man made the choice to join another family, but only accepted the wife and not her child into his family. And equally saddened that the mother allowed that. There is something very animalistic, literally, that drives a male to cull a child from his own family. Other species do it, like lions and gorillas, but a human in a civilized society that kills a lover's child says that some key tool of humanity was missing in that monster's life long before he met that little girl's mother. And right or wrong, step dads do not have the market cornered on inhumanity. But like Pit Bulls being the catch all dog breed the media picks whenever someone gets bit, crimes by step parents are often the first to be publicized and dramatized, as if the crime were somehow worse than if a biological parent committed the same offense.
Step-parenting can be difficult, no question about it. But so can 'typical' parenting. And so can anything else we undertake without the proper tools.
As Abraham Maslow said...."When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail."
That thug killed a child in his care because he lacked the tools to properly and respectfully raise another man's child. And like any child that never fully develops, he resorted to using a proverbial hammer to solve his problems. And lest we forget, the woman who brought that child into the world stood by and enabled this man to kill her baby. Capital punishment is on the books because of miscreants like these.
So, in defense of the millions of good and decent step-parents everywhere ... the crimes we read about in the news can not be summed up by just labelling them as step-parents. The crimes are committed by underdeveloped losers that just happen to be step-parents.
Let's return to a happier place tomorrow, shall we?
27 November 2007
We can surely agree that deciding what is stupid is relative right? And no, I am not calling your relatives stupid. For example, some of the high browed among us might find the Hillary Clinton Nut Cracker blasphemous but some GOP friends of mine - and Dem friends with a sense of humor - would buy a case load to give out as party favors. And the Flying Screaming Monkey that you shoot from a slingshot? Fuggetaboutit. That is funny stuff...at least until the dog eats it.
Spencer's Gifts at the mall was the destination for gag gifts when I was young(er). It was where you went to buy hand buzzers, sour gum, steaming poo and faux vomit. I mean really, what is a more festive gift than a fake pile of puke laid on the couch next to Uncle Remy while he nurses an egg nog hangover?
When my brother and I were kids, my mother taught us the value of such a gift giving technique at an early age by giving us each a box of Potty Pot Shots. What a classic contest of prepubescent urinary skill versus the small floating paper battleships. If you hit the center of the floating battleship, the ends would curl up and it would sink to the bottom. It was awesome. And, the game came with a score sheet and an adjustable sight. Yes, you read that correctly...an adjustable sight.
The sight as I remember it ranged from Pea Shooter (dang!) all the way up to I.C.B.M. (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile) and a few notable artillery sizes in between. I pined away (no pun intended) for the day I could fit the ICBM setting, but alas, it was not to be. That didn't stop me from leaving my sighting cuff out on the bathroom counter set to ICBM though. Mental warfare counts too, folks, especially against your older brother.
As a teen, I gave everyone on my list a Chia Pet. (sing along now...cha-cha-cha-CHIA!) Deep down under their sighs of disappointment and rumblings about my misspent youth, I just know that they remember the fun. As will the people they probably re-gifted them to the next chance they had!
Still feeling spry as a young (and single adult) I tried a similar approach to gift giving at a friend's wedding. What fun it would be to give the newlywed's a Hermit Crab! How doubly fun for them to be able tell their grand kids that Mike gave them both CRABS for their nuptials? I could not contain my excitement. You read the part about me being single - as in, without female supervision - at the time, right? Even though it took years for them to talk to me again (who knew?), their sense of humor grew along with their perspective and I eventually became known as the guy that gave them crabs for their wedding. He scores!
So let the pundits take aim at 'stupid' gifts. The real sports among us will embrace the true spirit of the holiday season: making memories and making laughs.
Important Safety Note: make sure to run your memorable and funny gift by your significant other first - I am not responsible for bruises, real or emotional!
26 November 2007
Emily: No, Sweetin'.
Me: What? What is Sweetin'?
Emily: It is the name I gave the cereal for my school cereal box project.
Me (feigning an understanding): Oh, what is the objective of the school cereal box project?
Me: Good grief.
Communication is so fragile. With Emily, we have kept up so far fairly well on the lingo of 6th grade, I think. Of course we live in an increasingly Hispanic populated area so some words pass us by because, uh, we no habla Espanol.
I remember when I was in 6th grade, "gayrod" was in 'fashion' (for the ever-so-advanced 6th grade mind anyway). I still don't know what gayrod means exactly but I sure knew it was bad. Heck, those were fighten' words out by the bike rack if you called somebody that...so I heard anyway he says through a devilish grin.
Nowadays, kids call each other what I would consider to be some very nasty names. And I am no prude, believe me. I am just amazed with the recklessness of name calling among the folks that can nary back it up. Of course it is not really the name calling that is the issue, but the underlying lack of respect for others ... for boundaries ... for consequences. We live in such an indulgent time that folks of all ages are accustomed to popping off to someone and there is usually someone right there to fix it for them (a parent, a misguided policy, a lawyer, etc.) before someone opens a can of whip ass on them. Some say that we live in a more civilized society....but there is certainly plenty of evidence to the contrary too, eh?
A fave read of mine is called Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age by Daniel J. Kindlon (ISBN-10: 0786886242). (You can order it - and anything else Amazon sells - at a low price by clicking on the Amazon widget on the right column). It is rich on research and long on anecdotes of how middle class kiddos get lost easily in their consequence free existence....and end up becoming blights on their family and wards to society.
Now don't be a fink....go do something productive!
25 November 2007
The more I _____, the more I don't like to ________.
What comes to mind? I'm going out on a limb here, but I bet it's not eat, have sex or make money. How about travel?
I used to travel for work a fair amount and must say I did a pretty good job at it. I had a boss and self appointed travel mentor once that was the epitome of a travel Svengali. He was away from home, often internationally, for over 200 nights per year. He had - or developed - a panic disorder so he learned he had to write the city, date and mission he was on down on the little bedside note pad as soon as he checked into a hotel. That way when he awoke in a stupor and didn't know where he was, he could look at the cheat sheet and find temporary solace. What a life. And that is not all bad by the way; he did and saw some incredible things in those travels, but as expected it comes at a price. He just happened to be willing to pay it.
I don't travel much anymore, for business anyway. Having earned my wings (and points and miles, oh my!), my trips to the airport these days are spent
1) trying to retrain my conditioned response to veer toward the long term parking lot
2) the occasional business trip
3) the occasional boondoggle pleasure trip disguised as a business trip (wink, wink) or
4) to pick up and drop off friends/family
Holidays are always a special treat at the airport (if only sarcasm could be better relayed electronically he says). The major airport that services my area is one of the largest and busiest airports on the planet and believe me when I say it attracts people of every experience level during the holidays. Some fly because the bus was full. Some fly because they can go to or from anywhere in the world via our airport. And some fly because there is a fruitcake convention somewhere and, well, how could one miss that? The experience levels are equally as diverse. My favorites are those eager wayfarers that show up with their worldly belongings in a trash bag and the chip on their shoulder, especially when they are in front of you during the screening process.
When I was a teen with no money, I would take dates to the airport to watch the travelers and we would guess who was coming and who was going. What fun! And there is no greater place and no better time to witness the spectacle of travel rodeo except during the holidays. Most business travelers run for the hills during this time...they gladly relinquish the airways to the rookies during this time. After all, who wants a flight delayed because the guy in 28F won't shut off his Playstation? And the hysterical woman in 14B who screams about dying in flight in between puking up her airport cocktails?
So off we go to pick up Emily from her Thanksgiving trip. As the subordinate parent, I will likely be told to wait outside of security. I will hang my head momentarily, then wish Tonya luck getting through security while I relish the opportunity to indoctrinate young Ethan into his first of many travel rodeos.
If you are riding in this years travel rodeo...giddyup, won't ya?
24 November 2007
- a booger as long as my middle finger. Sadly, I think he caught my cold so he has the sniffles, and productive ones at that. Sucking boogers out of my baby's schnaz with a mini-turkey baster was never on my list of things to do when I was a kid.
- a smile. My oh my. The curled up mouth finally wasn't associated with gastric expulsion of the infant variety (aka: baby farts). How can any parent expect to carry on about their day when they have a baby that smiles at them?!? If only we could bottle it up and sell it...we could bankrupt all the anti-depressant and pain killer companies all at once.
Enjoy your family.
23 November 2007
Even the homeless and downtrodden among us eat like kings for the most part on Thanksgiving. This time of year we wave our collective flag of charitable giving and beat our chests at the annual office party about our selfless act.
Yet by some accounts, only 28% of Americans donate to charity each year. And I suspect that much of that is in November and December. While they don't talk about it, some of the good folks who run soup kitchens and the like end up throwing food out on Thanksgiving that is in over abundance, yet they still scrape together barely edible meals the rest of the year.
The act of giving has been sold as a grand act that absolves the soul and makes the giver feel so gooood about themselves. And why not? We are giving of ourselves right? Money, time, last year's unwanted gift, etc. What is increasingly missing is the awareness of what the recipient needs to actually feel gooood too. That still matters right?
The good news is that something is still better than nothing. The American Red Cross for example received $3.2 Billion dollars in donations 2006. That is a lot of cabbage. Some charitable studies suggest that up to 89% of Americans give (categorized as money, stuff and maybe even happy, charitable thoughts). Of course the American Red Cross has been around since the late 1800's and have a simple name to remember. But what about the thousands of other non-profit organizations that need community support?
Regardless of what stats we believe, it is our own level of investment that truly matters. If you want to feel gooood more than just 2 months a year, have a family meeting, find out what floats your boat and then you can bet your over served behinds that there is a non-profit group somewhere that is furthering the advocacy, or whatever, of your topic of choice. Make sure to check them out first though. Guidestar.org, the Better Business Bureau and your socially conscious friends are good starts.
Lots to be thankful of this year. And don't forget to include our troops serving overseas in your shopping and giving.
22 November 2007
Holidays are especially nice because she - and now with her able apprentice Emily - spend hours in the kitchen making goodies whose aroma fills the neighborhood. A secret? They are all healthy. Super duper healthy. Tonya is a budding nutritionist and as a lover of well prepared food, we are the lucky recipients of some awfully good, tremendously healthy fare. She makes pies for the neighbors and a famous Mississippi Mud Pie for the winners of a contest at her school. Taking after her mother, another awesome cook, Tonya has been making yummy food since she had to cook entire meals for her family starting at age 10. Maybe someday she will pursue that passion and obvious skill beyond our homestead.
Your taste buds lathered up yet?
So here we are on what is arguably the most celebrated cooking day of the year and want to hear about what Tonya is preparing?
Nada, zilch, bupkis. And I think it is great. In her illustrious cooking career, she has escaped 35+ consecutive years of not ever being at the stove on Thanksgiving. Not by design really, just by happenstance.
So today we travel short distance to my mother's house to talk turkey and to eat some turkey.
You and yours enjoy and please stay safe.
21 November 2007
There is something very nuclear about a family, any family, and when you have a good collection of folks you call your family, you tend to feel better when they are around and feel a bit disconnected when they are not. In that way (and others), I have never felt like a step parent. Nonetheless, it is my reality and Emily is gone for the week visiting the man she calls her dad.
I am also a product of divorced parents so Emily and I have a lot in common. As a step parent, finding and exploiting commonality with our step kids is a real boon. If you are at either end of that equation, you know the dynamic. Finding commonality with our kids is not rare, but in a step relationship it often is. Therefore common experiences - whatever it may be - serve as critical building blocks for a productive relationship.
For those having to share their loved ones in a less than tenable situation this Thanksgiving, may peace be with you. And to Emily, travel safe and remember I love you.
20 November 2007
19 November 2007
Recreational Sports can be entertaining. They provide an outlet for exercise and dressing up in a uniform, and well, that is about all that is guaranteed. Some people approach recreational sports with an interest in also winning a few contests along the way. In a simpleton’s view, sports that intentionally KEEP SCORE intend to produce a winner and a loser. The part of recreational sports to me that is entertaining is that people engage in them without considering what is needed in order to not lose.
For you big thinkers out there....yes we lost the tournament, BIG. But truly, being outscored by a better team is inspiring and is fodder for the next practice. On a micro level, that is why Emily is playing up a level - to play against better players, which in turn will give her the opportunity to be better herself. At the team level, we see all the time small under skilled teams taking on titans and refer to using the game as a measurement of how they are doing, looking at which players can step up, etc.
Being outclassed, outplayed, and voluntarily handing our butts over to our competitor to chew on at their leisure is not okay by any measure though. There is nothing recreational about that.
In my other business, I have learned that no matter what walk of life we come from, a little pressure and challenge produces 1 of 2 types of people:
1- those that internalize the challenge and seek a self remedy to improve.
2- those that externalize the challenge and seek others to blame.
I am concerned about the children that are being reinforced for exhibiting type 2 characteristics. What category is your family in?
18 November 2007
Speaking of spewing fecal matter, Tonya informed me that Ethan had some ‘impaction’ during our game today. Actually, ‘pressurized projectile poo formerly known as impaction’ would be a better description since the act of no longer being rectally restrained is what is noteworthy. I previously reported an instance of projectile poo on his changing table. Well, this streaming wad of dookie shot, like a Gatling Gun, from the middle of the backseat of our truck, grazing Tonya’s arm and out the door of the truck, landing just shy of the neighboring vehicle. Only gravity stopped this geyser from peeling the guy’s paint job. I am guessing a 5 foot fountain of poo, and that was with Tonya’s bare arm as an obstruction. JFK’s magic bullet theory has nothing on Ethan’s little pooter of terror.
17 November 2007
16 November 2007
I will celebrate this new opportunity to bond with Ethan in relative silence.
15 November 2007
Trout is a special guy. He is father of two boys and doting husband to one. He has accomplished some outstanding things in his life including scaled several significant mountain peaks, flown airplanes all over the world and has served his country for 20+ years. I am proud to call him my friend and Sherpa. Trout’s first son pooped in my hand when he was baby so I am almost ashamed to admit it that out of all of the worldly things we could have talked about during Trout’s short visit, I sure thought it would be great folly for Ethan to return the favor. Oh well, Ethan obviously has more class than me already. Trout will be scaling Aconcagua in Argentina in early January of 2008 so keep him in your thoughts for a successful mission and a safe return.
|Lay it on me:|