Sunday, November 15, 2009

A thin line between pride and shame.

A few weeks ago we took the kids to a Big Jeff concert down in New Jersey. They love him and for good reasons. He and his band are great for kids.
While there, we found out that there was a hot dog eating contest right around lunch time.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love to eat...a lot. I figured why not get a free lunch and do something for a good cause since the contest was part of a fund raiser.
So there I was trotting down a few blocks, on my way to my first "competitive eating" contest.
After giving my name to the organizers, I sat down at a table along with seven other contestants.
Two minutes later I had wolfed down sixteen dogs (no buns), just enough to tie for second place. First place ate seventeen. Since we tied for second place, we had to go for a thirty second "dog off" where I ate six more dogs to claim the only runner up spot.
As I am pretty competitive, I was disappointed not to win, especially losing by one dog. But still, I am proud: twenty two dogs in two and a half minute. What an accomplishment!!!! I am no Crazy Legs Conti but not a bad performance.
When I told the story, I had all kinds of reactions from "way to go!" to "yuk! you should be ashamed!".
The latter is right, I should be ashamed. Ashamed that I lost and I intend to eat my way to first place next year. Until then I will proudly display my second place trophy, in our kitchen of course.
Watch out Kobayashi.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dr. Seuss meets Sesame street and a pumpkin

I tend to think that Dr. Seuss is overrated. Eileen does as good a job coming up with some silly rhymes to amuse the kids. However, I do like his books and so do the kids, so he was our theme for this year's Halloween.
Matthew dressed up as "The cat in the Hat" while Eileen and I were "Thing one and Thing two".
Nothing was more appropriate for our little pumpkin than a pumpkin and John was the cutest Elmo you will ever see.
We all had a great time at the party and I had a lot of fun seeing the faces on the people passing us by on the highway.

Birth order of children

I cannot take credit for the following.
It is an email that was forwarded to me. It is very funny and so true.

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your
OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth:
1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don't bother because you remember that last time,
breathing didn't do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.

The Layette:
1st baby: You pr e-wash newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them,
and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and
discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?

1st baby: At the first sign of distress--a whimper,
a frown--you pick up the baby
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten
to wake your firstborn.
3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to
rewind the mechanical swing.

1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until
you can go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it
off with some juice from the baby's bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

1st baby: You change your baby's diapers every hour, whether
they need it or not.
2nd baby: You change their diaper every two to three hours, if
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to
complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing,
Baby Zoo, Baby Movies and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry

Going Out:
1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter,
you call home five times.
2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave
a number where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she
sees blood.

At Home:
1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older
child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the

Swallowing Coins (a favorite):
1st child: When first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to
the hospital and demand x-rays
2nd child: When second child swallows a coin, you carefully watch
for the coin to pass.
3rd child: When third child swallows a coin you deduct it from his

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin decoratin'

Since we are just a few days from Halloween, this morning I told the boys that they would paint the pumpkins that we bought at the farmer's market this past weekend.

The catch: They had to clean up their playroom.
Someone very wise said that cleaning your house while the kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk while it is still snowing. However if you do not shovel, you will have a couple of feet of snow before you know it. Not that wise after all.
So they very reluctantly proceeded. Unfortunately cleaning up has different meanings depending on how old you are.
At two, it means picking up your toys (blocks, cars, trains...), throwing them up in the air, laughing uncontrollably while you are watching them fall down all over the room.
At four, the meaning of cleaning up changes to picking up the toys that your little brother just spread all over the playroom's floor and hiding them under your Thomas the train table.
At thirty eight, you just watch the scene unfold, take a deep breath and tell them how lucky they are to be the cutest things you have ever seen.
Since cleaning up was pretty quick, we had plenty of time for our paintings.
When using paint with young kids I have learned to be extremely careful. As a piece of advice, unless you are ready to appear on "Extreme makeover-House edition", cover and protect as much of your house as you can. From the floor to the furniture, without forgetting the kids. I used old tee-shirts of mine, old table clothes or plastic can do the trick too. And if you are not planning to display the pumpkins outside, use some washable paint.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not so spooky ghosts.

As we are just a couple of weeks away from Halloween, we started making some decorations.
Today, Matthew and I made a few ghosts to hang in the house.

First we gathered everything we needed: white tissue paper, plastic golf balls (styrofoam balls can also be used), sticky eyes and black ribbon. You could also use some real golf balls but since I am a lousy golfer I left my last golf balls in the water at Wallkill Golf Course.
We wrapped the golf ball with the paper and tied it at the neck with the ribbon. We then glued the eyes and used some black foam stickers for the mouth. Matthew insisted in the ghosts having happy faces.
They are now hanging in the dining room trying to scare (or welcome) anyone who dares to venture in the kitchen.
When we were all done, Matthew made a Halloween collage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life happens.

What happened to us?
This is a question too familiar to most couples.
Our life is not what it used to be, most couple complain. Of course it is not!!
A few years ago, we did not have three kids and a mortgage and bills etc. A few years ago, we were able to go to the beach in a two-seater convertible without planning the day trip a month in advance. A few years ago, we would spend many sleepless night drinking bubbly and...A few years ago life was different.
A day trip to the beach now needs to be planned way in advance. It takes a long checklist to make sure we do not forget anything or anybody! The convertible has grown into the biggest minivan on the market and still we run out of room. After a two hour drive including all stops (diaper changes, bottle feedings etc) it takes another hour to unload the car and "settle" on the beach. After a quick lunch of peanut butter and sand sandwiches we play in the sand. The waves are too big for the kids to even think about going in the water. We finally decide that John ate enough sand for a year and it is time to go back home where we should be in about three hours.
With three kids four and under a day at the beach is nothing more than a very long commute to a huge sandbox.
As for our exciting sleepless nights, we still have them. The champagne has turned into Diet Pepsi over the years, and we get our thrills eating gallons of ice cream, playing Scrabble and watching Lisa Robertson on QVC, all at the same time. Yes, when you have kids you learn to multitask!
My motorcycle has shrunk into a tricycle* and the only roaring engine sounds I hear on weekends are those of a lawn mower and leaf blower.
So what happened to us?
Nothing! We decided to have a family and now we have a life. It is up to us to enjoy it.

*Don't give up on your dreams though. I know that tricycle will grow back into a bobber someday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chocolate covered corn flakes.

John was a little bit under the weather this morning so instead of going to play outside we made some chocolate covered corn flakes.
First I melted some baking chocolate mixed with fat free milk. What is the point of fat free milk when you already have about a thousand calories worth of chocolate? It just made me feel better!
Matthew then mixed the corn flakes and melted chocolate together.

When Matthew was done mixing, both John and him scooped the corn flakes onto a baking sheet.
I could not take a picture of John doing it, I had to help him out. (I did not want today's craft to include repainting the dining room!)
Once all the mixture was scooped up, I placed it in the fridge and it will be ready for our afternoon snack. Matthew and John helped cleaning up the chocolate...
We did end up going outside to burn a few calories

Friday, October 2, 2009

Making our own lunch.

The boys love to make, build, cook or bake their own things so for today's lunch they made their own pizza. Sometimes we use whole wheat English muffins instead of dough (it's a little healthier) but today we got the real thing.
While the oven was preheating to 450ยบ, I rolled out the dough on a baking sheet.
Matthew and john spread the tomato sauce and sprinkled the cheese over it

After about 15 minutes in the oven we were ready and proud to enjoy our own pizza.
What a treat!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

What it takes.

Being a stay-at-home dad takes a lot more than loving your kids.
It takes loving to spend time, a lot of time with them.

All the fathers I know love their kids, very few however love to spend a lot of time with them. They spend an hour here, another hour there but they cannot wait for Mommy to come back home so they can get away, as far away as they can.
Others will call Mommy for help at the first smell of poop or will pretend to not smell it until Mommy gets home.

Let's face it, for most men, spending time with the kids means playing with them and call mommy as soon as the shit hits the fan (sometimes literally!!).
Being a stay at home Dad means being a Daddy, a chef (although Mac'n'cheese and PB&J sandwiches do not qualify as gourmet cuisine), a chauffeur, a housekeeper (laundry and house cleaning are not done overnight by some special elves). You are also a teacher, tutor and mentor. And do not forget the numerous diaper changes. That alone is enough to run most men out of town!
You do not have to entertain the kids every second of the day. Every minute does not have to be planned as almost not a day goes as planned anyway, but you need to have a good idea of what you will do throughout your day so it does not end in
chaos. Most guys see stay-at-home dads as lazy couch potatoes, doing nothing all day but watch their kids entertain themselves and think anybody can do it. These are the ones who would not last a full day watching their kids and taking care of the house chores.
Yes, taking care of three little ones is hard work. It is a full time job for which you are not getting paid. The reward, however is priceless.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Daddy, please don't throw the box away!!!

It would take Eileen and me over a week to make an inventory of all the toys Matthew, John and Grace have and we might run out of ink and paper before we are done.
From educational toys to blocks, construction sets, Thomas the tank engine sets, puzzles, cars, trucks, musical instruments... You name it, they have it. You cannot walk into their playroom without stepping on something.
And what is their favorite toy? A big cardboard box!!!
Of course it happens at some point to every parent out there. It is nothing new. Kids love to play with cardboard boxes. It leaves room for their imagination.
A car is a car no matter what. A box can be a house, a plane, a princess castle, a boat, anything they want it to be. Matthew wants to build a rocket ship but we are saving that project for a rainy day.
So the next time you are on your way to a toy store do yourself and them a favor, stop by a u-haul store and get the biggest boxes you can get. Or better yet, save the box from your next delivery and have fun with them.
Today, the delivery was not very big so they turned the box into a cosy house and I had an instant baby sitter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You are a rich man.

Working in the same restaurant for the past few years, I have developed some good relationships with regular customers. Many of them ask me for updates on the kids and the family so I always keep some updated pictures in my pocket.
Last Friday evening, as I was proudly showing the pictures to an elderly couple, they were complimenting me on how happy the kids looked.
After seeing all the picture, the gentleman looked at me and said "You are a rich man. You have a beautiful and happy family."
Unfortunately, wealth is not measured by how many happy and healthy kids you have. In this day and age, wealth is about what kind of car you drive, how big a house you live in and how much money is in your bank account.

Although we do live in a nice town, I drive a (very) used Kia Minivan and our house is, as they say in real estate, "cosy".

Every night when I pull into our driveway, I do not see my dream car
and I do not need a map of the house to make it to the bedroom (shame on us we do not sleep in a master suite) but I can say one thing, we might not really be rich but I am really happy.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Swim to me Puppy.

"Swim to me puppy" from MGA Entertainment is a cute little puppy that can walk and swim all day so that kids can follow him around. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, right? No, absolutely nothing wrong until your precious little one follows him to the edge of the pool, watches him dive and...
According to a Consumer Product safety Commission report,
nearly 300 children younger than 5 drown in pools and spas each year, and about 3,000 suffer pool or spa-related injuries requiring attention at hospital emergency rooms. About two-thirds of the pool and spa-related deaths and injuries involve children ages 1-2, with about 80% of the drowning fatalities occurring in residential settings, such as the victim’s home, a family or friend’s house or at a neighbor’s residence.
All of a sudden the little pup does not seem so nice anymore.
I am not on a crusade to get this toy banned or run MGA Entertainment out of business, however I believe this toy should be advertised differently. It is getting mixed consumer reviews and could be a fun bath toy.
For all of you pool owners, unless you live with Craig Pomeroy or Shauni McClain, remember that this cute little pup can be big trouble.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Let's feed the birds!!

Our craft project this week was a very easy and inexpensive bird feeder.

Start by spray painting an empty milk carton or large soda bottle. We chose hunter green so it would blend with the trees.
While the paint is drying, have the kids go pick up some nice leaves and a couple of sticks.

Now that the paint is dry, cut some holes on each side of the carton or bottle. Make sure the holes are big enough for the birds.

Have the kids glue the leaves that they collected earlier to decorate the feeder.

Insert the sticks about half way between the holes and the bottom of the carton.

Fill the bottom of the feeder with some bird seeds and using some butcher string or in my case some old shoe laces, hang the bird feeders to a tree.

And there you have it. A great way to keep the little ones busy and interested.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Roles

Even though I do not always see eye to eye with my superiors, I have always put a lot of heart and pride in my work and it finally paid off. I was offered to stay with the same company working only evenings. So along with my new role at home comes a new role at work. Both will take some adjusting and so far we are dealing very well with having Daddy home. It has been only two days but besides the occasional time-out threat we had two great days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Daddy's home!!!

Many life coaches agree that one key to happiness is to make a career out of your passion(s).
Since my greatest interest is spending time with my wife and kids, I finally handed my resignation from my job as a restaurant director for a boutique restaurant group in New York City to be a stay-at-home dad. Add to that the cost of day care and the commuting expenses and the decision was fairly easy to make.
According to 9Th mom salary survey, stay-at-home moms (and I would think stay-at-home dads too) would earn $132,732.00 a year.
I have to say that I am pretty pumped at the idea of earning six figures having fun with our children every day. A "would be" six figure salary, however is not going to
be enough to take care of our monthly bills so I am looking for an evening job, which is going to throw a wrench in my plans of spending more time with my wife. Speaking of wrench, my other passion is motorcycles and cars but it will be for a future post.
Even though I am not new to this; we took the same route when our first boy was born four and a half years ago and it worked out all right, I am very excited about it. I really want it to be Daddy Day Care with days filled with crafts, stories, music, games and of course tons of fun.