Thursday, March 28, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

Since I have had more than 50 post, I thought it was time for a throwback.  (it has nothing to do with the fact, that I have nothing to post...)

This is one of my first post, and still one of my favorites.

A Day With Dad

I have always done the grocery shopping in our family.  My wife, Tammi, has joined me a few times, and it usually involved me getting very angry, and Tammi not speaking with me.  When I go grocery shopping I take use an application on my phone and note every item in my cart.  I walk up to the register usually knowing, within a dollar, how much I have spent. It generally takes me about an hour, whether I have the boys with me or not.  In my head, Tammi walks down an aisle with her hand out, knocking items into her cart. 

When we lived in Wisconsin, we lived in a small town about thirty minutes from Madison.  When I say a small town in Madison, you should understand  I mean I lived on a farm.  The exact population in Stoughton WI is very small.  Let me provide you with an example.  Taco Bell closes at 9 p.m.  I should make that more clear.  Nine months after we moved there, when they got there first Taco Bell, it closed at 9 p.m.  Entire families went to go see the new “restaurant” in town.  One more example, next to the town of Stoughton, is the VILLAGE or Oregon. (Pronounced there as ORE-E-GONE)

Since I had always done the grocery shopping in our relationship, this didn’t change after my first son, Glenn, was born.  I was still working at the time, and, so, would always end up going the same time each week, Monday or Tuesday right after the first nap. I always seemed to run into the same lady working the liquor store.  When ever she saw me and Glenn she would say,  “Ohh, look a day with DAD!”

 I never said anything.  Rather, I just smiled and encouraged Glenn to be nice, and say, “hello.”  Yet, nothing annoyed me more than the “Day with Dad” statement.

Today in America, if a father takes any child into the store under four years of  age , he is viewed as a super-hero.  Old ladies stop me while shopping to tell me how brave I am to walk into a store with a child – as if they never dreamed of taking their four kids to the store because their family needed to buy food.  Come on everyone, I think we need to raise our expectations of the American father.  I often joke with Tammi that all I need to do to be a good father is not hit her and don’t leave her ass hanging.  Let me be clear, this is not a Day- With-Dad.  I am his Dad.  He spends every day with me.  Whether I am working or staying home, the kid is my son. When my wife goes to work, I am not babysitting.  She does not cut me a check once a week.  I will not pretend to be emotionless when it comes to my children.  I don’t cry when a hallmark commercial comes on but that doesn’t mean I am indifferent to my kids.

….Besides the alternative is to let my wife spend 40 dollars on organic fruits and vegetables when God intended for that money to be spent on meat and potatoes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Bad Rewrite

I’m so pissed right now.  I had to write this entire blog over.  Yup, had to scrap the entire thing and start from scratch.  It was funny, insightful, and heartfelt, but you’ll never see it.  All you get is this second- rate rewrite.

What was it about you ask?

How people are a bunch of hypocrites. Well, not everyone. Some of you started off telling me that I was less than a man for staying home with my kids.

But the rest of you, those who said it was perfectly acceptable, I’m talking to you.

For the past month or so, I have been looking to supplement my income by providing in-home daycare.

Not even a nibble.

Sure, I can watch my own kids, but your precious bundle?  No, thank you, I’m probably a pedophile.  So I wrote an entire blog slamming you all for your hypocrisy.

Then, three days before I was set to post, I get a reply from one of the many emails I sent out on  This mom needs on-call care for her three-month, three-year, and five-year-old Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

This job is perfect for Tammi and me. Because I only work when she doesn't it allows us to earn money without leaving home. 

Sure, having five kids in the house at one time is certainly going to increase my work load.  Honestly, the number of kids in the house is going to be the least of my concerns.  What really worries me is what is going to happen to Tammie’s ovaries when she holds a three- month-old baby.  I’m seriously worried the baby will send out a chemical literally capable of overriding her birth control. 

Okay, enough about my wife’s reproductive system, and back to the matter at hand.

Why are we so hesitant to have a male watch our children? 

Does it really all come down to pedophilia?

Sadly, I think it does.  Which begs the question “Is a child more likely to be molested by a day care provider or by their uncle?  Stats say they are more at risk from the adults they know.  If that’s true than if I just limited the number of adult males they know than I am limiting the chances that something bad would happen, right?

This is just a result of the society we live in.  Gender stereotypes are not just a topic of conversation.  They take root in our thought process, and have real world results. 

If a strange male interacts with our children, than all sorts of alarm bells tend to go off.  If society tells us that men do not like children, than a man who does clearly like them, must be doing so for the wrong reasons.  Right???

It seems easy to get caught in these inaccurate traps of logic, and I think most of us do on a subconscious level.  Typically, once we realize we are discriminating, then we stop. 

Well, at least one person did, so I guess there is still hope.

It is too bad that someone did, though, this was much better the first time I wrote it.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two Shorts and an Afterthought


The last time I posted about Jackson's conversational skills, I was a bit challenged.  Since Use Your Words he has gone through a bit of word explosion, as a two year old is apt to do.  Among my favorites is the word ‘Noooooow?’  This is how it goes…


“Yeah, in just a minute, as soon as I’m done with the dishes.” I put the glasses away.


“No Jackson, I need to do ALL of the dishes.” I put the plates away.


“Not yet, I need to load the dishwasher.”


“Yep…….As soon as I wipe down the sink.”

I know it is going to get very annoying…very quickly, but honestly it is so very adorable.


Battle of the beds: As of writing this I remain victorious.  I know that you were worried.  

During the war of the beds, I would often reward sleeping in your own bed, with cake during lunch.  I no longer remind him of the previous agreement, but if there is cake in the house he somehow manages to remember.  This happened back when Tammi was out of town.

“DAD! I slept in my own bed last night.  That means we ALL get cake today!!!”

“Not me, I don’t get any cake….”

“Why not, you slept in your bed too.”

“Nope…Your Mom’s out of town, I fell asleep on the couch.”

“It’s OK because you wipe my nose, and help me out, and pick up after me, so you can have cake too.  I just decided that.”

One More Thought

I’ll try and make this quick. 

Tammi asked me the other day, if I was happy only working part-time.  The answer was a resounding YES.  Am I recommending that everyone quit their jobs, and stay home with the kids? No. 

I've said this a lot, but as long as you are an engaged and listening parent then you are doing it right.

After that make yourself happy, whether you go to work or stay home.  Tammi gets these moments, as well, and they are just as precious.

“Glenn, I love you this much.”  You know, with her arms extended.

“Mommy I love you six towns away.”  In my head he doesn't even move his arms.

Whatever choices works for your family make sure you’re paying attention, or you will miss these short moments. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

I'm a Dumbass

At some point in my younger years, my evil sister told me that if I didn’t cry when Dad gave me a spanking, then he would think I was a man and stop.

Genius, I thought…

Then I tried it.

When I didn't start crying, my father seemed to take it as a personal challenge.  He dropped my “drawers,” and he made sure I understood how angry he was with me.

A few days later, I was up for another spanking (go figure).  Only now I had mastered the trick.  Before my mother’s hand even made contact with me, I let loose a blood curdling scream.  I kept it up throughout the spanking.  Afterwards, I was sent to my room to think about what I had done.  I sat and happily played with my toy cars, content in my knowledge that I had figured out how to outsmart my parents.  I even heard my mother tell my father, as she walked past my door, “I think I might have hurt him.”

I didn't get many spankings after that.

When people say the word “spank,” it seems to conjure up images of the 1940’s and children getting beaten with switches.  The phrase “rule of thumb” is not a joke people; it used to mean you could beat your wife with anything smaller than the width of a man’s thumb.  (Thank you Boondock Saints)

Violence is not a joke.  Many people who would include themselves in my generation were not spanked, they were beaten.  I was not.  Thousands of women and children are abused in the United States and around the globe every year.  My wife is not one of them.

That is not how I parent either. 

My parents never even used a belt, although some of my friends were spanked with belts and sticks.  This sort of violence is not appropriate.  My parents spanked all of their children until, wait for it, it stopped being useful.  At a certain point, spanking no longer changes behavior, but rather it shames and builds resentment in the relationship. 

I don’t like to use the word spanked, because it has such a negative connotation.  I swat.  Once a child is up and walking around, they get into everything.  We didn't start either of the boys on timeouts (our preferred negative consequence) until they started pushing two.  Until that point the get a swat on the hand for getting into something that they are not supposed to touch.  After that point, when they get three timeouts in a day, they get a swat to the bum. 

I often hear that the reason parents don’t spank is because they don’t want to teach their children that anger and violence is an appropriate response.  Neither do I, but anger and violence is a response and adults often use it.  A fellow dad blogger recently wrote a post about when he almost spanked his child.  In it, his daughter is pushing and pushing and pushing as children do.  Eventually, he gets a book thrown at his face and ends by removing himself from the interaction.  A tool I have often used in the past.  I’m not judging how he handled the situation, but, to say the least, I would have handled it differently. 

I would rather my kids learn what happens when you throw a book at someone’s face now, than when they are in their twenty’s and at a bar.  If they try that shit there, I am certain the person will not simply leave.  (Well maybe Jackson gets away with it)  To be clear though, I wouldn't beat them or spank them, but I would swat their bum as they went to timeout.  Yeah, I would probably yell as well.  After the timeout, we can have a more rational conversation. 

Like many things in parenting, you have to do what’s right for you.  Each parent has to do what is right by them.  I get that, I just wish the word spank could stop being equated with beat.  That’s not what I do.

Besides, spankings (swatting) only works when they are young.  As I said above, eventually it just stops working, and you’ll need to get more creative anyway – something my father was very good at doing.  Shortly after I stopped getting spankings, I wished that I could go back.  When I did something wrong, my father would just give me a stack of paper.

“Write, ‘I’m a dumbass’ a thousand times.”  Do you know how much your hand hurts after that?  Trust me, it was more than my ass ever did.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


A couple of months ago, we put together bunk beds for the boys.  This will, almost certainly, result in a late night trip to the emergency room eventually.  My guess is that shortly after learning how to get up to the top bed, Jackson will just as quickly learn how not to get down from the top bed. 

Yet, even with this potential disaster looming, I feel I've achieved a great victory.

Prior to the bunk beds, I had told you how I had lost control of my OWN bed. No longer was my very expensive Tempurpetic bed for the graceful slumber of a sleep well-earned, nor was it to be designated for other more rigorous activities.

But now the tables have turned.  I am glad to report that since the installation of said bunk beds, I have not had a child in my bed.  Well, that’s not completely true, but there have been only a small handful of occasions.  After installation, we had a solid two weeks of peace.

Glenn is very comfortable getting up and down, but has thus far shown an unwillingness to do so in the middle of the night.  He has only wet the bed twice, and, after the first, I let him know he would be sleeping in his brother’s bed if he did it again.  He did, and he did.  Jackson was not pleased, but it was that or I could take Glenn to sleep with me in my bedroom. 

More importantly, we have not had the struggles of nap time that I remember from Glenn.  I was dreading teaching Jackson how to sleep in a big kid’s bed.

I remember Glenn going to a big bed and having to walk him back to bed for nap time about, oh, does a thousand times seem like I’m exaggerating too much? Jackson has had none of those challenges (knock on wood).

“Jackson, have you had a good afternoon?”


“I’m glad. Are you tired?”


“Do you want me to go?”


With that I get up and walk out of the room.  It amazes me how different these two little kids can be in temperament.  Logically, I can step back and tell you my sister and I are nothing alike.  Sure we share some similarities, but you know what I mean.  We are two different people.  Just like Glenn and Jackson.  Why do I keep expecting them to act the same? 

Am I parenting them differently?

Not really.  It just turns out that we are all different, and we begin showing those differences at a very early age. 

The problem is that now I am paranoid.  Having achieved the victory I so badly desired, I keep suspecting saboteurs to attack.  Every night I go to bed, and I assume that the infestation of children is about to begin.
They will wait until there is a thunderstorm, the sneaky bastards, and creep into my room under the rouse of being scared.  Only next time, when there is a next time, they will come in pairs.  They will tell their mother that they are scared, or they want to cuddle, or whatever cockamamie schemes developed by children. She will fall for it, and I will be given even less room.  It seems that Glenn is willing to have a temporary truce until that time.

I feel like a man 48 hours from death row.  I have won the freedom of my bed back, but I know that this victory cannot be long lived.  In the meantime, I just hope that the trip to the ER isn't as serious (or expensive) as I’m anticipating.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Overreact

When I joined the dad blogging community, something stood out to me right away.  These guys are really defensive about how dads are represented.  For the most part, I thought they were over reacting somewhat.

You see, I know what I do is not the norm, even if it is becoming increasingly more common.  I don’t expect for Tide to advertise to me (yet).  It would be nice if they paid attention, but I don’t buy the cleaning supplies, so they would be missing the mark anyway.  Other men do though, and I think we will continue to see a slow…very slow…move in that direction.

Then, it happened.

I was at my part-time job, and we were just having a normal conversation like any other day.  The woman I was working with had just returned from maternity leave.  Maybe because of social conditioning, maybe because of gender differences, but she didn't bring up her kid to me right away, something I've seen happen at work before.  I suspect that had I been a woman, her newborn would have been the very first topic of conversation.

At some point during the day, she asked me what our electric bill looks like.  I, of course, did not know, because Tammi takes care of it.

“Who is the man in your relationship?” she asks.  Where the Fuck did that come from?  She was happy enough to have me teach her how to swaddle her newborn, but this makes her uncomfortable?

“Uhh, I am…”  This is the last time in the conversation that I attempted to de-escalate the situation, and it was a bad attempt at that.

“Yeah, but your wife takes care of everything that men are supposed to handle.”  I honestly don’t even know what she means here.  Is she asking me if I take out the trash or if I have a penis?

“Well, what are you doing here?  I mean by that definition your being a terrible woman, because someone else is watching your child. Shouldn't you be at home?”

“Yeah, but I’m single, so I don’t have a choice, you have decided to let your wife take care of things.”

Her rigid adherence to stereotypical gender roles shocked me.  Because I’m in a relationship I should make Tammi stop working?  The whole conversation had made me very angry, and I was surprised how much so.

“Well, if you had a penis than you would be smarter and have a promotion already.  Instead you’re 28 and working for 9 bucks an hour.” Essentially, it was the adult version of pulling her pigtails.

At this point, my boss, who had been sitting close enough to hear, decided it was time to step in before I said something that was going to get me fired.

Here is what I would like to do.  Let’s define our gender by the genitalia we have?  Let’s not even include what you do with it or who you do it with in the definition

OK, getting a little too crude….my apologies.

More than anything, I was shocked at how quickly I had become offended.  Was staying at home making me more sensitive? No. She was being straight up offensive.

Listen, the vast majority of people are very comfortable with a dad staying home.  Well, maybe not the majority.  If it was truly the majority of people, than I would be able to find someone to pay me to watch their kids.  I can’t.  Tide would feel comfortable asking me to buy their product.  They don’t. Yet.

I’d like to feel that when confronted with racism or sexism or some other -ism that I respond with a reasoned and mature response that avoids name calling.  I want to tell the person that, even if they are not racist or sexist or some other -ist, the comment was, in fact, sexist. And we can do better than that. We have to because A) it benefits us all to allow each person to contribute their best work instead of being shoehorned into a role they don’t like and B) it’s simply the right thing to do.

That’s what I’d like to do every time. This time, I made a penis joke and thought some inappropriate words.  I’m sure there will be a next time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Single Cell Amoeba

Tammi left last night for a trip to Vegas.  I can think of no one worse to go to Vegas with than Tammi (she’s a bit straight-laced, too cheap to gamble and always wants to be asleep by 10:30).  Well, except that time we got married. That was fun.

It’s a work trip, and she will mostly be in class all day, in a hot tub during the evenings, and going to bed early.  I am very envious, but it’s not the trip I would take, you know, if I got to take work trips.

Now, I am home with the boys for four days. All. By. Myself.

This is a grand opportunity. I was thinking, “If I can’t go to Vegas, why not bring Vegas to me?”  That sounds like a plot to a bad sitcom.

I once had a theory that it would take “Old Craig” approximately two hours after Tammi’s departure, to revert back to a single cell amoeba. Previously, it has, on occasions, taken mere seconds after she leaves for me to be in my boxers, beer bottles everywhere, smoking inside, and with a sink instantaneously full of dishes.  The return to form took about 12 hours.  The night before her return, I would stop smoking inside, pick up the trash, start the dishes, and go to bed early.  In the morning, I’d clean the floors, add some Febreze, and I was good to go. 

Now, it’s different.

I tried really, really, hard but I wasn't able to de-evolve all the way.  The farthest I have been able to revert back to is a one-kid dad.  It’s already been 12 hours, and I think that amoeba is out of the question. 

Sure, I had the guys over.  We didn't pick up after ourselves, we all took care of  our heroin addiction (i.e. cigarettes) inside, I stayed up late, and we didn't recycle.  I made it all the way to 10 a.m. before plopping the kids in front of cartoons, something I’d generally avoid. 

Yet, stuff still has to get done.  There is a four and a two year old in the other room. If I sit them in front of cartoons all day today, then it’s just going to make tomorrow more horrible.  Plus, eventually, they are going to demand I feed them.  Or, worse yet, not say anything at all until the sugar imbalance becomes so overwhelming that my day of peace is shot. 

It’s more than that though.

Prior to Tammi leaving, she had worked, what felt like much more than just, six days in a row.  I feel like I haven’t seen her in two weeks for more than 30 minutes.  Additionally, people who would normally come over and visit have had other things going on.  One of them had the nerve to get a girlfriend. While my own sister seems to think it is important to have her child sleep in his OWN crib. 

After about day four of her working, I started to get depressed, but I didn't finally realized it until around day six.  When you’re depressed, there is a vicious cycle of doing less and less, only to have that make you more depressed.  I could devolve to as close to a single cell as the boys will allow.  It’s only going to make me more lonesome and more bored and more depressed.

You know, we are not so different than those little creatures we try so hard to raise well.  I’d be outraged if someone suggested I plant my kids in front of cartoons day and night for weeks and years at a time.

Yet for some reason, as soon as I put them to bed, I turn the TV on and stare blankly for hours until bedtime.  We have a sugar balance, we need to eat our own vegetables, and we need some outside time. 

With all that said, I don’t plan on dressing the boys today, but no one stops the dishes monster.  God forbid, I ignore the laundry for a day.  It’s time to stop writing and get to work, my hangover is gone and cloth diapers do not fold themselves.

“Boys, TURN OFF the cartoons!”

Monday, March 4, 2013

No Convincing Otherwise

As Glenn quickly approaches his fourth birthday, I can’t help but think how far we have come.   There are a few pictures in particular that for some reason I have always used to measure his growth.  The first is him, as a newborn, lying on his blanket.  He is happy, unable to roll over, and on his stomach in our living room floor back in Wisconsin.  The second is him in the same spot, approximately a year later, only now he has managed to crawl about ten feet away from the blanket.  The third, another year later, and he is sitting by the corn field looking back across the street at the house, seen above, his little blanket still sitting on the living room floor.  Now he is in Texas and I feel like he will forever be exploring farther and farther away from his little blanket.  I’m looking forward to the growth curve slowing.

It’s tough, because I want him to grow up, I want to him to not need company or assistance when he goes to the bathroom.  Sometimes I wish we could just fast forward to him at 22, and sit together at a bar.  Discussing life, love, and politics like two friends.  He is close to moving beyond the little boy stage.  Will things be easier or do they just remain differently difficult?  As parents the more work we put in, the less they need us.  Eventually he will be 22, and he will no more want to spend time with me than he needs his little blanket.

Despite what seems to be his accelerated pace towards adulthood, we still have some time.

The follow is a list of items/habits that we are “working on”

#1- His Uncle did not make his Nani.(pronounced na-nee) The stuffed animal he sleeps with at night.

#2- He had not previously met a friend of mine even though I hadn't seen him in years.  “Yes Dad I met him a long time ago…

#3- His uncle did not give birth to his second cousin. 

#4- I can’t get him to stop referring to stores, by the state in which they reside.  ‘Dad you remember that time grandma took me to Wisconsin Wal-Mart.  I remember that.’

#5- He does not need to scream my name in order to have his nose wiped.  A much better solution would be to move his hand 30 inches to take the tissue and wipe his own nose.

#6 His brown eyes do not help him see in the dark

Truth be told I’m glad because, I want him to stay right where he is at.  Where he can look past every bumbling mistake I make, and still see me as a superhero.  Where he randomly will tell me that I’m his best friend, spend the morning cuddling with me, and show me his ‘moves’ as he wrestles with imaginary bad guys.  More than anything I want him to stop crawling further and further away from his little blanket.