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Category: hanging with dad

Chop Chop!

Chop chop!

I have a fast-paced tech career in the mobile advertising industry. I write massive amounts of code and construct mobile ads for many top brands.

In addition to my ad agency day job, I run several entrepreneurial ventures. One of my moonlighting duties is running a successful health, wellness and nutrition site with my college buddies, and another is developing a highly popular social network and entertainment destination for fathers.

During the day, I work. At night, I work. And at all times of the day, I parent.

I’m a father to a wonderful seven-year-old son with Autism and ADHD. He needs to be shuttled to and from school, playdate appearances, and countless therapy sessions. He requires help with his homework. He asks for my support for basic and intermediate executive functioning skills. He wants me to teach him how to code so he can grow up to be a game developer. He needs

Yes, I Locked My Kid in the Car

One day when the first of our four children, Aaron, was about two or three years old, he and I set about washing my two-door Fiat while my wife was running some errands. The car had just enough room in the back for a carseat. Aaron was like me at his age. He wanted to be inside near the steering wheel, radio, and keys, so he climbed into the car while I put up the windows, closed the door, and started hosing off the car.

It was a beautiful warm day in Southern California and we were having a ton of fun. Aaron would put his hand on the window and I’d spray where his hand was. He’d put his face to the glass and I’d spray his face. Funny stuff. He jokingly pushed down the door lock, and I mimed how funny that was. I also indicated that he should

Fantastically Unprepared

Let me first say this isn’t going to be another tired piece about diving into parenthood without being prepared for the in’s and out’s of diaper changes, the all-nighters, and the rest that new parenting entails.

That has been written by people better than I, and even then it’s a tedious subject. Everyone knows that you can’t be prepared to be a parent and we’re all pretty much winging it from the get-go.

This is about some major steps that I should have taken to ensure safety and security for my family, steps I have only recently enacted. Keep in mind, I’ve been in the parenting game for seven years now, so I’ve steadily neglected these things for a shameful length of time. But last week I took care of three of them, and I’m feeling way better about my level of preparedness.

Fire
Up until last week, my only defense against a house fire was the kitchen sink hose. So if a fire were to break out and be localized entirely within the three-foot radius around the sink I was currently standing at, we’d be all set.

From Brickles to iPads: Raising Screen-Savvy Kids

When I was the age my kids are now–between two and four–we had exactly zero computers in my house. In fact, I believe the computers that existed in those days were the exact size of my house.

At an age a little older–let’s call it eight–we were introduced to an Apple computer, and I was introduced to Brickles and Shufflepuck.

I’d click the crap out of that mouse trying to get to level 100 of Brickles and I’d almost knock things off the computer desk to try and stop a shot sent my way on the computer Shufflepuck player.

I even remember coming home from school one day after hearing about something called “The Internet” and clicking every menu option I could find trying to find the magical portal that I heard was going to change the world. I ended up in an extensive gallery of clipart but never did access The Web

Parenting on the Edge

Parenting has pushed me to unknown lengths. As a father, I live my life on the edge.

When I sleep at night, I find my money spot. Everyone has it. That one position that just echoes mellifluously through the remaining strands floating through your head after a long day. This is how I fall asleep…in my money spot. When I inevitably wake up, I find myself living on the edge–quite literally about to fall off the side of the bed. I’ll probably die in some sort of bed-related, partially conscious nosedive that will damage my spine beyond the capabilities of medical science.

I live on the edge because my four-month-old son who is no larger than a prize-winning eggplant at the county fair has monopolized the entirety of the spacious center of the bed. How does he do it? More importantly, how did he escape the confines of his crib and

Dreaming of Adoption on Facebook

For years we talked about how one day we would love to start a family together. Once we built a solid foundation and decided that open adoption would be our path, the question became: how? For us, social networking–specifically, a Facebook page–was the answer.

When we began researching our options of starting a family as a same-sex couple, we looked into surrogacy both domestically and internationally. We attended foster care training through the county and researched adoption agencies. We saw the pros and cons of each and ultimately decided that a private, open adoption would be best for us.

We take comfort in knowing that our child will know their birth mother from the beginning. They won’t need to search for answers later in life. We will let our child know that he or she was not given up on, but given a chance.

The birth parents will take comfort

Up Goes the Star

How to Build a Cabinet/Fairy House

I promised my wife that I would build a new cabinet for the guest bathroom. It was such a good promise that I’d made it several times already. I’m great on intentions and shit on follow-through. But now I had an entire Saturday in front of me, a small mountain of lumber, and a veritable arsenal of saws, hammers and other tools I had no idea how to use but that looked freaking rad. I was determined to deliver. I yanked on my work gloves and flipped down my safety glasses. Remember that scene in Top Gun when Ice Man reaches up and flips down his Ray-Bans? It was pretty much exactly like that.

Just as I was about to get busy, my daughter wandered out and asked if she could help. She is almost nine, so by “help” she means “get in the way and lose things and wax philosophical about My Little Pony and ask deep, existential questions while you’re trying to measure a right

The First Date Experience

When he was 14, my son called me one night from his mom’s house. “Dad, I have a question for you: Do you mind if I date?”

My first reaction was one of complete horror. My boy, my baby, was asking me if he could enter into the utter hell of teen dating. My mind flashed past so many faces of girls who had unwittingly stomped on my exposed heart with stiletto heels they were too young to own.

My earliest disappointment, Adele, was before my teen years. She ran away from me on the playground when we played “Boys Catch the Girls” at recess in First and Second Grades. She won my all most valuable baseball cards when we played after school in Third Grade. We moved away near the end of Third Grade, but I stayed devoted to Adele. One of my strongest memories was sitting at the supremely ugly red painted piano in our music room singing the love theme from Doctor Zhivago to her.

Someday we’ll meet again, my love
Someday whenever the spring breaks through

I wanted to tell my son Jay about Adele, and how tough the loss of a first love can be, but he was older than my Third-Grade self. Maybe he was more prepared.

Then again, I wasn’t any more prepared when I met Caron Callahan in Sixth Grade at the American School in London. She always wore dark clothes. I wondered why, but I never asked. Then, one day late in the school year she was gone (as is the tendency with American ex-pats in foreign schools). I had no idea where she had gone. I didn’t sing a sappy song to her, but I did fantasize about the day I would be elected president of the United States and could use that high office to find her again and tell her of my undying desire.

At least my son wouldn’t have the problem of girls leaving him unexpectedly. He was in a school where classmates weren’t moving all over the damn world.

But he’ll still have to deal with school dances, and that gut-wrenching feeling you have when your ex-girlfriend is dancing with some other guy and smiling and laughing. He’ll have to deal with those dates when he gathers all his money to take a girl like Kathy Poling to watch a day of tennis at Wimbledon, and then she doesn’t even know it’s a date and tells him very sweetly (because she’s the sweetest girl in the world) that she doesn’t date guys who are younger than her and that, if she’d known it was a date, she never would have agreed to it. One sentence turning the best day of his life into an embarrassing eternal memory.

Night Shift

This summer we welcomed our second child into the world, and shifted our lives around to accommodate. We had decided that my wife would take a year off from working and we would keep our four-year-old home as well. Pulling him out of daycare wasn’t the easiest decision in the world; he’d made friends and it was great for his development, but it just didn’t make sense for us financially.

His last day of daycare was a Friday. The following Monday we began our family’s transition from a dual-income family with one child to single-income with two kids.

One that first day, I came home from work and was paying Chutes and Ladders with son when I noticed he was acting irritably. He told me he didn’t feel well. In the next 20 minutes, events escalated from minor headache to fever to full-out exorcist-style puking. We contacted his  daycare and

The Boy Knows What I Want

True Story:

Me: Daddy is going to go take a quick shower. DO NOT open the door for anyone.
The Boy: What if it’s Santa Claus?
Me: It’s July–he doesn’t make house calls until December.
The Boy: But he goes to Bass Pro Shop and is on TV?
Me: I doubt Santa comes, but if he does,

Game On: Feeding a Toddler

Like any average toddler, my son is a picky eater. I don’t even know why you would qualify a toddler’s eating habits as “picky”—it’s just understood. Sure, there’s the occasional hipster-type who’s little lamb has been vegan/organic/locally-fed from the womb. Don’t you just wanna slap those parents with a cold fish stick?

One of my son’s favorite snacks are gummies. For a long time he ate only the Gerber ones, which seemed all fruit-filled and healthy. Then he got seduced by the Dark Side, and now joneses for Spider-Man, Batman or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gummies. I can only imagine what manor of chemical imbalance is found in them. I’ve all but convinced myself they’re still fruit-adjacent, and certainly better than soda, hard candy or Doritos. (Hands off, those are Daddy’s.)

We were in Connecticut visiting family over the July 4th holiday, and I ran into a Whole Foods to look for

My Best Teacher is a Baby Bull

My son–an animal sciences student–recruited my wife and I to bottle-feed his ten-day old baby bull this summer (“George”) while he interns with a company 500 miles away. The calf’s mom was unable to produce milk, which meant his immune system was weak and he would die without intervention. With a lot of unanswered questions, we reluctantly enlisted.

That’s when I unknowingly enrolled in the continuing-education class on fatherhood taught by George the bull, who whispered, “Shut up and learn from your adult children.”

I learned that if I rubbed George’s left flank, his reflexes would cause him to swallow the milk we squeezed into his mouth. This was good to know, because George was stressed and dehydrated from his long journey and had lost his appetite. Ironically, this tidbit actually came from my son, who had once had a feeding problem of his own: while in the womb, his twin sister had begun to take more than her fair share of nutrition and we had to intervene to save his life.

Then George scratched the ground with his left front hoof and told me to “embrace the butting of heads.” Just three weeks after George was born, he contracted pneumonia. We were all convinced that his limp, lifeless body meant he was going to die. As “Dad,” that stoic guy with all the answers, I accepted his fate with sadness. But my oldest daughter didn’t. After numerous nighttime calls, and in spite of my urging to give up, she finally reached a young doctor at a large animal hospital. They talked for an hour and arranged to get George to the hospital, two hours, away by the following morning.

“I can’t put that cow in the back of my car!” I shouted. “But Dad… you can,” she persisted. And so I did.

The Bedtime Battles: A Sleepless Saga in 31 Rounds

The Backstory:

This is a Twitter record from on a recent evening when I attempted the “Cold Turkey” technique discussed in my “Parenting Preschoolers” class. The process involves calmly and silently leading your child back to bed when they wake up without making eye contact or conveying any emotion whatsoever. Repeat as necessary until stationery toddler is achieved.

I Tweeted my ordeal partly to entertain myself, and partly to hold myself accountable. If I knew people were “watching” I’d be less likely to lose my cool. Right?

The Scene:

8:49 p.m. Monday. JJ had already been put back in bed four times.

The Players:

@DesignerDaddy (all tweets are by me, unless otherwise identified)
@PEPParent (organization teaching the class and the putting-to-bed technique being applied)
@BloggerFather (fellow dad blogger, who makes a cameo appearance)
Papa (silent, supporting—but essential—role)
JJ (the Star)

Action:

8:49
So I’m trying what my @PEPParent textbook says and keep putting my son back to bed. Here goes put back #5.

Daughters Look Good on You, Dad!

Being the father of twin boys is like…

Multi-tasking Dad

Mini-Me

My First Father’s Day

Father and Son Naptime