Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mother's Day and the Very, Very, Very Low Bar

Ah, back in my uncomfortable office chair. The extremely fake leather on the arms of it have long since torn open to expose about as much padding as a high quality piece of paper might offer. It's been many months now since I've written anything, which isn't to say I haven't often thought about it. So much has happened since my last offering and as I sit here wondering if that's a bolt I feel under my butt or if I perhaps sat on a toy, I can't help but be overwhelmed by the idea of where to begin.

Last night I was struck with a heavy urge to log in and write...something. Anything. Again, the momentary panic crept upon me. What do I say after a long absence? Surely my first post in months should be something profound. As I had done many times in the same situation, I shut down my computer and went upstairs to bed. I got into the covers, being careful not to wake up my beautiful wife. She was so peaceful. That's when I noticed v-shaped sagging of our mattress again. I sat there thinking about our friends who have owned 2 different mattresses since we purchased this one. How could she fall asleep so easily on such a crappy mattress? The answer is pretty simple; it doesn't take much to make her happy.

And I knew what I wanted to write about.

I had a small vision for this blog. Certainly nothing long term. I realize that the vast majority of people who have ever read a single word on this website are people who also have my phone number. What pressure am I under really? I've had probably two people question why they never see new updates from me, and one of them sleeps 1-3 feet away from me every night. Clearly there are few expectations of me as it pertains to blogging. If there's any pressure, it's minimal, and we are clearly dealing with the heavy scrutiny of the same woman whose current favorite food is pre-packaged cupcakes. It doesn't take much to make her happy.

It's a very, very, very low bar for me to live up to.

Which brings me to Mother's Day. First, a heart-felt belated Mother's Day to any who might be reading. I've had many motherly figures in my life, and I love all of them dearly. Still, it seems appropriate to say that the most important mother in my life right now is the mother to my children. So on a day that many people feel is meant to honor the mothers in this world, I'm short on ideas as to how to show my appreciation to her. Lucky for me, I live in this digital age where countless articles are written by countless people, all of whom claim to know, "The Top 10 Things She Wants for Mother's Day!"

For anyone looking to be bombarded by anything from the stale (GET HER FLOWERS AND ALL THE CHOCOLATES!) to the uproar educing (TAKE THOSE LITTLE BRATS AWAY FROM THE GODDESS MOTHER!), these articles are probably very helpful. I, on the other hand, was at a loss. So much so that late Saturday evening, as Mother's Day loomed on the horizon, I conceded that I had no plan at all, and asked my wife if there was anything she wanted. Her answer was perfectly simple, "Just a nice day with everyone."


A simple request, but per our usual routine of chaos, I found it hard to deliver on something so, well, simple. Sleeping in turned into sleeping in.....ish. Breakfast in bed turned into family picnic time in bed, which turned into family TV time in bed. Still, the boys were on good behavior, and I was feeling quite pleased with myself. That feeling lasted till I had fed to boys lunch and put Carter in bed for his nap. That's when my Saturday slapped me right in the face. In an effort to be completely available on Mother's Day, I did a massive amount of work outside on Saturday. Somewhere in the 12 hour range. Turns out I was tired the next day. I tried my best, but with Carter asleep and William playing nicely with mommy, I fell asleep with what I'm sure was an, "I'm disappointed in myself" face. I fell asleep on the smallest portion of our sectional couch. My feet hanging off the edge, and covered by a blanket that would either cover my top half or bottom half. I chose bottom. I chose poorly.

Somewhere in my slumber, I realized that it was still Mother's Day, and that I had in fact fallen asleep, I awoke quickly, trying to get a grasp on the situation and see if there was something I should be doing. That's when I realized that my foot had become tangled in the blanket. I was stuck, and still too tired to remember that I could just reach back and undo my foot from the death grip the blanket had put on me. So instead, I laid there, face down, one foot flailing frantically in the air as if it was trying to swat away a fly. And from my wife, the laughter started, but perhaps something was funny on TV. My foot continued to do an impression of a dog with peanut butter on the roof of it's mouth, and the laughing got noticeably loud. So I looked up at a very pleased mother of two, laughing uncontrollably at her husband. In a moment of weakness I might add.

I guess what I'm saying here is, I don't always like those stupid article lists of overused, boring ideas that supposedly "every mother wants." I like to get my wife flowers for no particular reason, and with her work schedule, she really tends to want more time with her kids, not an excuse to take them away. Lots of people are tired of holidays like Mother's/Father's Day or Valentine's Day because we think of these days as a requirement for some sad offering to prove our love or loyalty. Of course, if all we do to recognize these days are run to Wal Mart the night before to get a bunch of painfully old flowers and the first card that doesn't make us want to vomit, that's all it will ever be.

Maybe you don't have to play the "today's a holiday game" to show someone special that you care. I will say that my wife had a good Mother's Day, and maybe it was just luck that everything went well for us that day. Still, she had a nice day with everyone, and got to see me flail around like an idiot.

And a card.

Not too bad.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Uncool or Just Very Specific?

Dear Most Lovely People,

How do I miss thee...



So it's been a while. I'm am not angry or upset. The simple fact is that the addition of Bonus Baby to the house for about 9 hours a day has not presented me with much free time. So much so, that when it happens I tend to find things I really need to catch up on. Like showering.

I was fortunate enough to catch a little bit of a break last week when my mom came into town for a visit. I love when she comes to town. She's one of those type of guests that requires very little entertaining. She's there for the grandkids, and that's as much as she asks for really. That and vegetables to be in the house. Fair enough.

Along with her annual visit, Melissa and I get a date night or two. It's become such a rare thing that it's almost as if we've started dating all over again. While this might seem sort of romantic or maybe even a chance to renew the spark that tends to settle when you find yourself with only a handful of hours alone each night, for me it puts a lot of pressure into the evening.

Here's what I mean - We planned two nights out together, and while we were given no guidelines or time limits, we set up my mom as best we could. Meaning, we fed the kids and tried to get them in a state that they would have about an hour to wind down before bedtime. Nice, easy evening for my mom.

We approached both nights with the same conversation:

Anything you want to do?
Nope, you?

The topic went in circles over where to eat and what we might do afterwards. We both agreed that there didn't seem to be any movies playing that we had the slightest desire to go see, and I made the point that seeing something just for the sake of seeing something had a strong chance of ending with me falling asleep, not that I'd complain. So both evenings would find me driving aimlessly toward nothing, and Melissa would get irritated over the feeling that I was putting the pressure on her to come up with some fantastical idea for us to act out. She was partially right on that notion.

Then, like many parents, we hit the big question:

 Are we uncool now? Have our kids made us uncool?

Let me first answer that question with, no. It's easy to let that idea creep in, though. We found ourselves with an amazing opportunity to get out of the house and do anything at all. Anything. Yet we drew a blank until it became a valid idea to go pick up some last minute groceries. It's a frustrating thing to have some freedom and no clue what to do with it.

Then it dawned on me that cool-status was not the issue. It was expectations.

I spend a lot of time looking outside. I wonder what's going on out there. Most importantly, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I would do if I could be like those people out there. Walking around without even thinking about what a gift it is just to be out there walking around. Being a stay-at-home parent is a very important job. A job unlike any other. However, it often carries with it a sacrifice that few outside the circle can understand. So when that rare chance at freedom comes along, we want, no, it must be perfect. It must be magical. When it comes to dinner, a chance at something new sounds great! Unless the food is bad, because the food can't be bad on that most rare of occasions out of the house. A movie? Sure, but it can't be one of those movies that would work just as well on the TV a few months later. It has to be something that can't be missed on that big screen. As the sun begins to set, we can go for a walk. It just can't be through an area filled with spiderwebs or graffiti or a ton of dirt, because when we kiss I don't want to open my eyes and see I've been standing in the local dog's latest work. I want several months of magic in an evening, because it often needs to tide us over that long.

Perhaps this is a venting of sorts. Perhaps it is a reminder to get out more. Either way, I'd argue that we are not the least bit uncool. We or I, however, have very specific expectations for any evening we are out together. That's what can make date night so stressful.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Only Two?

I was asked a really interesting question via facebook the other day. What if you had to put only two things on a baby registry? Two things you just couldn't see yourself living without after the baby was born.

As potential answers started to flood my head, I also became very bothered by the question. See, giving advice on these topics is something I find myself doing on a somewhat regular basis. So it was annoying that I found myself really struggling to provide only two answers. Not because I couldn't think of two viable answers, but because...seriously...two? Perhaps I'm alone, but when I started to look around the house at the editions of things we brought out or was brought over for the mere addition of Bonus Baby during the week, well, there's more than two things.

I guess it was obvious that the couple involved wasn't looking to try and live with only two additional items in their house after the baby was born. I think they were going through the same things many of us go through when trying to prepare the house for a baby. What are the things that are really important? What are the things people tend to buy that could really be done away with? What do you really want to spend those dollars on?

On a short list? I'd absolutely want the following on a registry:

Car Seat and Stroller - Can you live without these items? Of course! You can be like me and almost never leave the house. You can maybe carry your children everywhere instead of letting them ride in style. Do you want to though? I'll say this - I like the car seat/stroller combos, and I don't care about the bells and whistles. I don't care if it has seven cup holders for the adult. I never use the cup holders. Honestly. Melissa used to put her coffee in one of them and go shopping, and it would drive me crazy. Every week there was coffee dips all over the handles or dried up in the bottom. Don't be fooled by the kind of tires on it or the appearance of "shocks," strollers are not 4-wheel-drive, they are you-wheel-drive. Put these on a registry, but don't pay $100 extra on the one that has a "storage space" on the top. Ours has one and we can't fit two iPhones in it.

A Really Good Chair - I've talked a little about my "daddy chair" which is my now, almost 8 year old La-Z-Boy recliner. I mentioned that it turned into our breastfeeding/child rocking/child TV viewing station. Seriously, that chair has become the most important piece of furniture in the house, and it's still my favorite place. Yes, we bought one of those rocking chairs with the rocking ottoman that Babies R Us tells you is a "must have item" and put it right in the nursery, but it hasn't seen a quarter of the use of my chair. So if you don't have one, find a chair that you are comfortable with for the long haul. Of course with a newborn you will find yourself running around all day, but you will also find yourself sitting a lot. Make sure you've given yourself a chair where that isn't such a bad thing. Did you know that some of those chair recline AND swivel? God bless us all.

A Thing That Helps The Baby Sleep - Whatever that means - buy it. We have some very generous people in our lives, and when we were pregnant with William a flood of pricey items came rolling in by mail. So we had an electric rocker that played music and in theory would swing the baby to sleep. We had one of those smaller chairs that would vibrate, and play music, and in theory would soothe the baby to sleep. We had two mobiles, a sleeping wedge, and sleepy music CD's that all promote a nice environment to lull the baby off to sleep. None of those things worked as well as....the car seat. Alton Brown has a rule with kitchen items. No single use items, he likes multi-taskers. I can get behind that in this case. The car seat keeps baby in a comfortable and safe place. It's got that sort of confined space that babies view as soothing, as if they are being held. You can move them without waking them up. Heck it even has a handle! Regardless, find something that works so that you don't feel compelled to confine yourself in holding the baby while he or she is sleeping.

Somewhere to Put Diapers - Regardless of your choice in cloth or disposable diapers, you need a place to put the dirty ones. A diaper genie, diaper elite, diaper pail, crap caddy, turd tacklebox, dookie domicile, you take your pick, but have one. You never realize how much those things help till a bag rips open, or the lid isn't on right. Think poop smells bad? It even less fun smelling a week's worth.

A Thing That Buys Other Things - Yep. Gift cards. In my most humble opinion, gift cards are one of the greatest gifts ever, and on a registry they can really be magic. Again, not to pick on anyone, but two things? Gift cards are the best way to grab all those items that either fall through the cracks, or you'll never get enough of. Diapers, creams, shampoos, wipes, whatever it is - a gift card is there for you. Like that friend you don't talk to, yet you call up one day because your car won't start and you KNOW he'll give you a ride to work even though it's going to be awkward since you haven't really talked in a year. Hug that gift card and know it's a true friend.

Now, equally important in my opinion are the things you should not put on a registry:

Cloth Related Products (exception: diapers) - Clothes, blankets, burp cloths, things of that nature. Why? Because no matter what you do or what you tell people, these items will appear during your baby shower. People love to buy cute outfits, things they think will match your "nursery theme," or items their kids have outgrown. You'll hear things like, "You can never have too many burp cloths!" or, "Socks were only $1 for 5,000!" You'll have friends who have been waiting patiently with boxes of clothing, stalking their friends for the one who seemed ready to have children. Melissa and I didn't need to buy William any clothing until he was three, and even then we probably could have just asked around. You need these items, but putting a pack of washcloths on your registry invites everyone to buy them. It doesn't matter that you specifically asked for one pack.

Wipes Warmer - By the time William actually came home from the hospital, we had acquired two wipes warmers. Makes enough sense I think. I like to think the boys prefer a warm, moist wipe gliding gently across their crap covered crevasse. In truth though, I think wipes dry out a little bit in the warmer. I've also noticed that within three seconds of being exposed to the air, they lose all their warmth. Not to mention that it's another item you have to try and find a place to put the plug. A baby's room only has so many outlets. We still use ours, but really it's out of nothing more than habit. This really is one I'd be happy to be without.

Diaper Bag - I think people act differently toward their diaper bags. Some people, who tend to be women, use it as a purse or backpack. It's a joint bag used by both baby and parent. It has everything from diapers and extra outfits to wallet and cell phone. Some people keep it minimal and only have the things needed to change the baby, perhaps an extra onesie in case of massive diaper blowout. The thing is, you don't know how many hundred's of pockets you need until you decide what kind of relationship you want with your diaper bag. Not to mention that in most hospitals, you'll get two free ones from the two major formula companies. Rest assured those will certainly start you off right till you really figure out how many space you need...or don't need. Remember those gift cards?

So yeah, I don't know that I could pinpoint the two most important items needed on a registry. Lucky for me, I didn't need to either. The list of things you need for a newborn, particularly as new parents can seem endless. True, places like Babies R Us will give you a "list" that you can check off as you make your registry. Those "must have" items. True, some of that is a ploy to get parents to spend additional money on things they don't need. Seriously though, if you let a list tell you to spend your money on a crib, portable crib, bassinet, AND a Pack and Play...well you didn't deserve to call it your money.

So let's hear it, what's your "Must have on a registry" items and the things you feel shouldn't make the cut.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Did a Good Job - Proof Inside

This past week was really stressful for me. The addition of Bonus Baby has challenged everything I "know" about parenting. Really. I have come to a point where I question if I'm ever doing anything right. I feel as though I'm gaining a little more control each day. As if I'm understanding how a 4 month old fits into the already organized chaos of the house. I'm somewhat sure they have been using the Jurassic Park idea of testing the fence for weak spots, and some days I worry that they've figured out how to get Newman out of the park with the stolen DNA samples. I'll say that at the very least, I have a new found level of respect for single parents and parents with lots of kids. I don't know how they do it and keep their sanity. Three kids instead of two. It doesn't seem like there should be that much of a difference.

I was stressed, and I needed a good weekend to recharge. I got it.

First off, for those who kept up with my last post. The performance in Ontario went fantastic. The audience turnout was great and easily 90% of the people in attendance had been there the day of the accident. In particular, the 91 year old woman who was badly injured showed us all how resilient people can be. After two broken knees, another shattered bone in her leg, and several other internal injuries, she walked in to the bleacher area. WALKED. She had a cane, but that was it. After the car had hit her, she was in a great deal of shock. As the ambulance was making it's way in, she was sitting with a member of the band saying, "But...I'll miss the rest of the performance." She was overjoyed to have been given a chance to finish the performance, as was the band. For many people, emotions were running high.

For more, go here:

It was a long day, and I was intent to spend most of my Sunday catching my breath in anticipation for the week. My safety net, Melissa, would no longer be there for my extra pair of hands. They would be replaced by the small, less helpful hands of Bonus Baby. Yep. Good luck prying me off the couch. Well, plans have a way of changing. I find I tend to fall into the category of "a plan is just a list of shit that isn't gonna happen." I'm so glad it went that way.

For those of you who might wonder if I'm in the very stereotypical category of "cheap Scotsman" well, let's just say that six months ago I noted that it was time to get new shoes. So I went shopped on Sunday. I decided that it would be a nice change if I took Carter out and let Melissa and William stay at home. I think kids like a little one on one sometimes. Even though I know the boys and I need time apart, getting out alone really changes things. Carter and I had a good morning, but I didn't find any shoes that I was willing to buy, and by "willing to buy" I mean shoes that fell into my mythical criteria of being really great shoes that were under $40. See "cheap Scotsman." After coming home for lunch and getting a fairly insistent reminder from Melissa that it was okay for me to spend more than $40 because A) I really needed to get new shoes. B) I was going to wear the shoes for roughly 50 years so the money kind of spreads out. See "cheap Scotsman."

I decided to switch things up after lunch, and took William out with me. Mostly because it was Carter's nap time, but also mostly to switch things up. I wanted to take a slightly different approach than normal with William. Those of you who've been reading for a while will remember that William was late to really start talking, and perhaps that has led Melissa and I to be hesitant with helping him to progress in other areas. I see parents with kids who have to be William's age, who don't have to worry about letting go of their child's hand for a moment without risking the immediate sprinting of said child to the most dangerous object in the area. I see parents who can avert their gaze for more than half a second without the worry of their child seeing that as an opportunity to create havoc. I decided that William and I were going to join those ranks, and he went above and beyond my expectations.

First off, in keeping with the "here's the plan, let's mess it up" theme of the day, it went from quick run to check a different shoe store, to an almost three hour trip all over town. Home Depot (not-so-fun-time project post in the future?!!!), and three different shoes stores. Did I mention that I really hate shopping?

William decided to be my little slice of redemption. From the start, I made sure to give him a little freedom when I could. Walking down the isle at Home Depot? "Just stay close, buddy," I'd whisper to him. Sure enough, as we made our way through the store he followed along by my side. Occasionally he'd stop to look at an interesting tool or sheet of plywood. At one point he stopped at big metal beam that ran up to the ceiling, and began knocking on it. He figured out that it was hollow and turned to me saying, "Open, daddy, open!" My kid thinks I can rip open metal with my bare was your Sunday?

The little extra space and freedom continued through the shoe stores, and by the time we arrived at the final location I think we were both ready to just fall asleep. We had landed at DSW, a place I had never been to because it had not opened a store in my living room. A bit rude. William had started to get antsy to be home, but since he was tired, I was able to give him an alternative to running away from me and putting every shoe in the store into one large pile. Sitting! I would put him on one of the seats they provide for people to try on shoes in whatever area I was in, and bring him my latest choice. Which brings me to my over-the-top cute moment for this post.

In an effort to keep him engaged and still in each spot I went to, I included him in the process. I'd hand him the box, and I would take out one shoe, handing him the other to inspect. Then I'd simply try it on, without making a big fuss over him. Sometimes he'd take one of his shoes off to try the new one on like daddy, and other times he'd just pull out that wad of paper they always stuff into the shoes their shape? Anyhow, everything was working so well! I can't put it into words how nice it was to have him sit down, and put my attention on finding the right size, glancing over to always find him in the same place. He was behaving so well. Someone was getting a chocolate chip cookie on the way home.

The thing that floored me though, was whenever I'd try on a shoe, and it had to actually be on my foot, William would give me a once over and say, "Cool shoes, daddy. Cooool shoes. Good job!" I don't know where that came from, especially considering he only did it at DSW, after two other shoe stores. All I know is that it was awesome, I appreciated the feedback, and I wanted to try on lots of shoes to keep hearing him say it.

Lots of hugs and a cookies were had before we went home.

And for the record, my new shoes are cool. I did a good job.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Special Performance

If you haven't figured it out yet, music is a big part of my life. It's something I actually had to fight to keep involved with. Not in a "Fight Club" kind of way, but there was a period of time where it would have been very easy to cut my losses and say farewell to being involved in any form of music aside from iPods and youtube videos. Lucky for all of us, MTV has taken the steps to remove it from television.  Aww....poor VJ's....remember VJ's?

About a year after we moved to Idaho, I went to the local Highland Games. If you've never heard of a Highland Games, feel free to consider that normal. It's a Scottish festival consisting of music, food, dancing, and the actual games (yes, one of the events is where they throw the big stick). It's a great time, and a place where no one looks at you funny for wearing a kilt. A rare thing indeed. It was there that I happened upon the Boise Highlanders, a very established bagpipe band here in Idaho. Here's where things get, well, slightly insulting. In a way.

I'm a drummer. In the most loosely formed sense of that word. I don't consider myself amazing to watch. I've had almost no real training. What I know has been gleaned from years of being in contact with people who are better at this craft than I will ever be. I'm okay with it. Is that the insult? Nope!

When I saw the Highlanders for the first time I looked at Melissa and said, "I could play with those guys."

It's not that they are bad or anything, but particularly from a drumming standpoint they do things to be on the easier side. We play slightly basic bagpipes tunes, and we do it as well as we can. We even have fans! It's been an amazing experience so far, truly.

Along we our fans, certain organizations have become very attached to having us perform for them. Which brings me to a story that leads to a very special performance this weekend.

Every year we are invited to perform at a festival in Ontario, Oregon. It's called "America's Global Village Festival" and from an entertainment standpoint, the Highlanders are certainly a main attraction. This year I was unable to attend to due to some things we needed to do with the boys, and perhaps someone was looking out for me and my family.


Barely into the performance this year, a little punk kid and his cousin, who were high on god knows what, jumped the curb onto the grass in their car and drove directly into the grand stands.

Let me say that again. They drove into a crowd of people with their car. Smashing a section of stairs that sent metal shards flying, hitting a member of the band, and pinning a THREE YEAR OLD BOY, between the car and bleachers. A 91 year old woman was hit. No deaths, but once all the counts and recounts were finished, almost 30 people ended up in the hospital. Most with minor injuries, 3 severe, one enough to be air-lifted to a larger hospital.

The driver was laughing and smiling during, and after, this terrifying ordeal. Laughing. While a 3 year old boy cried for help.

His passenger attempted to get out and simply walk away. He was "placed" back into the car and kept there by a member of the band. Two other members of the band, who are police officers, ran and shut off the engine to the car, taking the keys, and began to move the car back so people could get free.

The park is located directly across the street from the local hospital and first responders were there in minutes. Lots of luck that day.

This weekend the Boise Highlanders are putting on a free concert, at the same park, in the same location. While it's open to anyone, we have made attempts to ensure that those involved with the crash have been invited. As well, the city will be honoring the first responders.

I don't put this information out there to brag about the group, though clearly while we may be small, we have some amazing people involved. I want to put out an invite to anyone reading who might be in the area, and perhaps one of those reminders that we all need from time to time.

A three year old boy...that's William. The bleachers...that's where Melissa and the boys would have been, no doubt about it. Think of it as circumstance, luck, divine intervention...whatever you want. The point is that you never know what might happen next. Hug your babies.

For the concert: It starts at 3pm at Lion's Park in Ontario, Oregon. If you find yourself close enough, and have the time, I hope you'll come out and support not only the police and medical units involved, but the people and families hurt by this.

I don't know what will become of the driver or his passenger, and I wish I didn't care. After hearing several people describe the face and the laughter from the driver, and the look on the face of the little boy before the car hit the stands...

...hug your babies.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What to expect, when you expect to be expecting.

Long before I started this blog, I found that many of my friends asked me pregnancy questions. It may have been my availability that allowed the questions to be directed at me instead of Melissa. Perhaps even that some people enjoy my long-winded tales that perhaps push the boundaries of what they wanted to know by diverting into unending tangents. Either way, I found myself the verbal pregnancy consultant for several of my friends. It's nice to feel like my opinion of the matter is trusted.

There seems to be a routine of sorts as couples approach that ultimate decision to both bump and also grind, without any form of protective baby-barriers. It can is a very nerve wracking time for both people. There's always a great deal of "what ifs" and I think that causes a lot of people to enter into this very special occasion with their minds on the wrong things.

So I thought it might be nice to compile a little list of things I've often been asked or told, and try to respond as best as I can. That gives me the ability to answer the questions of my friends by directing them here, giving me the page hit, and allowing them the chance to avoid yet another long-winded conversation with crazy tangent guy. Seems fair, right? Little bit of win-win for everyone?


"We're waiting for the right time." - The most common thing people say to me, and the most difficult to respond to, because it deals with many issues. This is a statement that means many different things to different people, but the short version in my opinion is - when it comes to making the decision to have your first kid, there is no "right time." Planets don't align very often, and a golden beam of light is probably not going to envelope you as you're crossing the street trying to decide if you should buy that next pack of condoms. Without specifics, it's hard to go further, but be aware that things will turn upside down regardless of how much you've decided it's the "right time." Trying to base your decision on something so broad leaves you with every opportunity to invent a reason of why it is not the right time. If you are so desperate to find a reason of "why not" then perhaps that's enough of a reason.

"We're saving just a little bit more money." - This is a great, specific idea that tends follows the above. You should absolutely be concerned about the cost of raising a child. I know a few people who have put no thought at all into the financial ramifications of children. I even know a couple whose plan involved government aid. Seriously. They knew they couldn't afford a child, but figured with assistance, they would get some degree. It is certainly something that people can underestimate, but if your mind is going to a place where you think those last few paychecks to close out the year are going to save's already time.

"We want to have the baby in ____, so we're not going to try until ____." - One of the biggest misconceptions among the people I've known who have tried to get pregnant, is that everything happens on a schedule. We hear stores about these kids in high school and college who have a drunken night together and wind up pregnant and there's this feeling that it must be so simple. The reality is that those two kids, now facing a world of decisions, had a series of chance where everything had to line up perfectly. So many things have to be taken into account in order to get pregnant, and I've had more than one conversation of panic over, "It's been a month! What's wrong!?" Even at the age where pregnancy is most easily conceived (mid-20's) the average length of time before pregnancy is five months. If you want something a little closer to home, ask people you know. You'll probably be surprised at what you hear. Melissa and I had a rough time getting pregnant, and perhaps I'll talk about it someday, but as we asked friends and family it was alarming the number of miscarriages we heard about, the years of unsuccessful attempts that sometimes required fertility treatments, and of course people who had medical issues that prevented pregnancy altogether. My point is, predicting a "due date" to line up with some form of schedule is not realistic, and I'm not just talking about the potential for things to happen in a longer time frame than expected. I know a family who believed the second pregnancy would take just as long to happen as the first, so they set their "schedule" of  when to start trying. They were pregnant within two months. Think of it as a pre-cursor to life with kids - you're on their terms now.

"Is there something...sexual...we should be doing?" - Believe it or not, I had this conversation. I don't mind talking about sex, but it can be a little awkward. Especially when being told that I could think of miscarriages as at least a partial success because clearly whatever we were doing to conceive was working on some level. So here's my secret technique: Silk Boxers. You're welcome. No, in all seriousness, I don't know of any position or time of day or day of the week that really increases your chances. At one point we had been using those ovulation sticks, but that didn't really work for us. I can say that even though I'm unsure if this was really the "key" to our success, something that doctors talk about is keeping everything as stress free as possible. After two years of trying, and some very emotionally painful moments, we took a week long vacation to Las Vegas. It was a great week, and we didn't think about pregnancy while we were there. Nine months later, William was born.

"I'm not sure I want to bring a child into this world." - It breaks my heart when good people say things like that. We need smart and caring people, who are willing to be involved with their kids, out in the world. Still, it's hard not to see the truth in that statement. I heard it said like this, "You'll never miss what you've never had. With kids? It's not until they are in your life that you realize just how much you want them." I know several couples who have no interest in having kids. The very idea of parenting is a scary subject for them. Well it is scary, and the world isn't always nice. I can't help but wonder, as I look at commercials for awful reality TV programming - did these "parents" go through any of those fears? Don't be afraid. If you have a good head on your shoulders and you want to have kids, do it, and then be the best parent you can be for your child. That certainly has to be a step ahead from the TV parents.


"I'm not ready to stop doing what I want." - Thank god for people who can admit that. There are plenty of bad reasons to not have a kid, but this...this is a real reason. I'll admit that some people certain have a lifestyle that has allowed them as parents to keep up a healthy social life. Many parents are better than Melissa and I about getting out of the house, including time without the kids. There's perhaps an element of not having access to family here, or the idea that many of our friends don't seem to understand (or have perhaps forgotten) our need to get together in a comfortable environment that allows us to be social without a need to look over our shoulder the whole time. Either way, you must realize that after you have children you give up a certain level of freedom while they are young. I don't like the idea that you can keep up the same level of selfishness and I don't like the idea that you can maintain the same level of party lifestyle AND be mom and dad. If you have that itch to travel, do it! If you have that itch to spend money without thinking, do it! I'd argue that while the party doesn't have to does have to slow down. Maybe more than you want it to. So if you feel the need to put yourself before the baby, definately wait to have a kid.


There's no doubt about it, trying to decide you are ready to take the leap is a tough decision. The first time around left me constantly feeling lost.

What were/are your questions approaching the decision to have kids? What were/are your answers?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What a Croc! Get it?

I've been trying very hard to cook more throughout the week. With the addition of Bonus Baby, time has become a major issue for trying to get meals ready after I'm cut loose from all the kids. As a professional fake chef, I never spent much time with crock pots during my cooking endeavours. Several years ago, a friend decided it would be funny to give Capn' Fakecookin the devil's cooking pot. After I made the leap to being at home with the kids, I realized that they are in fact quite useful. My apologies to people who I may have insulted over the years based on nothing more than their ownership of this appliance.

Melissa and I are picky eaters, so most recipes need a little adjustment and some just won't work. Plus, many of the foods we want to eat most often don't get the best results from hours in a crock pot. Things like...BBQ. I have looked up a great number of recipes over the past year, all promising amazing pulled pork, ribs, BBQ chicken, and basically every cut of everything from nothing more than the Ronco philosophy of set it and forget it. The principles of the recipes have all been the same. A little seasoning, perhaps an onion, and then dump a bottle of BBQ sauce over the meat and leave it on low for however many hours.

Review after review gave top marks to many of these recipes as a way to get all that BBQ flavor without the constant tending needed for smoking or grilling. Personally, I never saw these results from any of the recipes. Some of them were...okay, but I wasn't looking for just okay. I needed something awesome. One day, with great hope, I found a crock pot rib recipe that had one of those pictures designed to make you hungry. It worked. I added ribs to our meal plan the following week.

The recipe was ultimately the same as most crock pot BBQ recipes, but I had a plan! I was going to use my home-made dry rub on the ribs AND I was going to use a glazing sauce I had made up when I did some real smoked ribs earlier this year. I figured that the taste should be pretty amazing, even if the results were a little underwhelming.

Meticulously I followed the directions which promised that "fall off the bone" tenderness that some people really get excited about. Fake chef cooking tip: If you are unable to take a bite of the rib without all of meat falling off - you shouldn't be bragging. Likewise if you can't pick up the rib by the bone without the meat falling off - you am cook it wrongbad.

As usual, the great thing about this was being able to keep up with three kids and know that dinner was working the whole time. The house smelled amazing all day, and I'm happy to take the credit there. After almost ten hours (the recipe recommended twelve) it was close to our slightly sad, early-bird special, dinner time. So I checked the ribs to see how things were progressing. I used a big set of tongs and gently lifted a set of ribs out of the sweet and spicy sauce. It was already far gone - just way too tender. The meat just sort of dissolved as you picked it up, a great idea for pulled pork perhaps, but not ribs. Additionally, the sauce and spices had clearly seeped into the meat, which you would think is great, but there just wasn't the flavor. It was just color. We had to use extra sauce just to get any form of "BBQ" flavor.

I will not give up, though I will put out the call. If you have a great crock pot recipe - particularly one for BBQ - that you really love, please share it!

Also, when I have perfected my crock pot pizza - I will let everyone know.