Category Archives: Life as Dad

Dad news that caught my eye this week (via Twitter)

Man Twitters His Vasectomy

Kev Leitch is web developer, dad to 3, husband to 1, and an active Twitter user. Some may say a bit too active as last month,  Kev tweeted his vasectomy, live while it was happening.

Now, in some respects you kinda have to go whoa, that’s a line we don’t need to cross. But on the other hand, and from an educational standpoint, here is some firsthand experience from someone who has gone through it. For example, if you didn’t read tweets like:

‘let’s get out of here before anything else goes wrong’ jokes doc as he stitches Mr Righty. Ha ha ha

then you might be unexpectedly caught off guard when your medical team casually crack  a joke mid procedure. Or, as way my experience, begin to talk about how you are his last case before catching a flight to Mexico for his vacation. Dude, you have a laser and my testicles in your right hand – get back in the game! Every time my wife feels slightly nauseous I worry that my surgeon was already mentally lying on the beach in Cancun when he performed the procedure. But I digress…

Kev, here’s hoping that “Mr. Righty” is feeling better. Remember, frozen peas are your friend.

9 tips to enjoy The Nutcracker with your kid

A Nutcracker for Christmas
Image by clickykbd via Flickr

On Sunday The Girl and I took in the Alberta Ballet‘s (fantastic) production of The Nutcracker. It has been many years since I have been to a production and I was looking forward to it as much as The Girl.

She had a wonderful time, and has since been carrying her nutcracker around the house, pretending she is Clara, with me playing the part of Herr Drosselmeyer.

It was an expensive gamble. Money in our house (like many homes) is tight and my wife and I talked about whether the $100 was money well spent. So, if you are thinking of shelling out the dough to take in this annual Christmas tradition in your neck of the woods, here are a few tips that might be handy to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

As with any “parent tip”, results may vary – greatly – depending on your kid. Mine is going to be 5 in January, so these are written with that age in mind.

  1. Know the story before you go. Knowing the story, and what to expect, ahead of time prepares them for what will come. For some kids, the fight scene between the soldiers and the mice can be especially frightening and confusing. YouTube has clips from various productions of  The Nutcracker. There is also a full length production (about 90 minutes) available online, and PBS has a nice synopsis of the story.
  2. Pick a matinee. Chances are it will be loaded with kids and a bit more kid friendly.
  3. Take the opportunity to dress up. A few days before we went, my daughter turned to my wife and said, “Is Dad going to wear something distinguished?” Of course, I couldn’t disappoint a request like that, so out came the old suit and tie. She (being 4 and a girl) had no problem getting decked out in appropriate attire. It added an extra element of specialness to the event. But be sure whatever you wear is comfortable.
  4. Avoid the temptation to bring a friend. Friends can be distracting, and it is challenging enough to focus one preschooler, let alone 2. It also avoids the potential problem that could arise if one wants to leave and the other wants to stay.
  5. Explain theater etiquette beforehand, but don’t be ruled by it. Explain that theater is different than a movie. The people are real, and they people in the audience like to listen to the music and pay attention to the dancers. People clap when they like something on stage, and there is a break 1/2 way through the show. But it would be impossible to expect a preschooler to be completely still and focused for 45 minutes, so don’t get on their case if they start getting fidgety. Instead try to refocus them on what is happening on stage. Chances are, they may have lost the plot and are confused as to what is going on.
  6. Bring a small booster seat. Check with the theatre beforehand to make sure this is okay.
  7. It’s okay to talk (okay whisper) to your kid during the show. Hardcore theatre goers may disagree with this, but some whispering to explain the plot is okay with me. Keep it brief, and keep it focused on the show. My girl loved that I would occasionally lean over and whisper in her ear, drawing her attention to things she might like on stage or in the orchestra pit. I also tried to explain what was going on if she looked lost.
  8. Be prepared to bail. If, after the first act, your kid is bored and you sense the second half isn’t going to be fun for either of you, leave and console yourself that you had a nice first act together.
  9. Make it live on. Talk to them about the show after it is over. Ask them what they liked, didn’t like. What they thought of the dancing.  Save the tickets and the playbill and display them around the house for a few days.

Finally, if you still want to give your kids the joy of The Nutcracker but are worried about attending a live performance, Cineplex will be carrying the National Ballet’s live performances this holiday season, live in HD at a movie theatre near you.

The Epic Correspondence

Dear Santa

Letter to Santa

The Girl finally finished her letter to Santa today. It was a long haul. A seemingly simple project that began 10 days ago has finally ended, letter sealed up and ready to mail to Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, HOH OHO.

It started with a simple question.

“What do you want from Santa this year?”

Long pause. “I don’t know?”

Not the answer I was expecting. Considering that Christmas has been in the air in our house since the end of Halloween, I was expecting a laundry list of items. Not so.

So, the seeding began. After a few days, she decided upon a Leapster because her friend George has one and she had fun playing with it one day at his house.

Okay then, Leapster it is. Over to the Canada Post website we head to find the perfect stationary to create our epic masterpiece to the big guy. Thank goodness Canada Post limits the custom stationary options to 9, but they happen to be broken up in 3 groups of 3 items that you can mix and match in various ways. So long to an hour as we try out different versions of stationary until we find the perfect one.

Then the dictation. We thought it would be fun for The Girl to practice writing her own letter since she loves writing. So, we coaxed a letter out of her, her Mom painstakingly documenting it word for word.

Finally, the hard work began as The Girl sat down with various writing implements in hand to transcribe the letter, word for word, letter for letter from her Mom’s page to her Santa stationary. Credit to her, she has worked hard on it, putting a bit of time into it everyday before getting sidetracked by whisps of air.

But today, before I walked ou the door to teach my night class, she proudly handed it to me to inspect, seal and mail off.

Godspeed little letter.

Packing on the pounds? Yep, you’re a Dad.

I used to go to the gym. I used to run. Occasionally, I would swim. I used to ride my bike to work everyday. Heck, some Saturday mornings, my wife and I would even ride our bikes just for fun. In short, I used to be a lean, mean fighting machine (well, minus the mean and fighting parts). I used to be.

Now my daily exercise consists of nothing more brisk than the 10 minute walk up the hill to work. The time at the pool is spent watching The Girl as she goes through her lessons and my beloved Rocky Mountain gathers dust on the wall in the garage. It shows.

Sure, some of the spare tire is due to the fact that I’m forty and, as we age, so does our body. But in reality I am just not as physically active today as I was pre-kids.

Nice to see I am not alone in this. The New York Times recently wrote about how kids adversely affect parents physical condition. Seems when the wee ones come along, something has to give and that something is often our trips to the gym.

According to a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh, on average those of us with kids lose about three and a half hours of physical activity a week. And men are affected more than women.

Women, who exercised on average four hours before children, lost about 90 minutes a week once they became mothers. New fathers, who used to log just under eight hours of activity weekly, cut back a whopping four and a half hours.

So, sure we are busy. And heck, we even might have a little less disposable income to throw around on things like gym memberships. But what was really interesting is that, while these are legitimate reasons why we have cut back our exercise, there is another reason at play. According to the study:

Too many Americans have an all-or-nothing mentality toward fitness, said Dr. Harvey B. Simon, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. If they can’t find a 45-minute window to bike, they don’t substitute by strapping on a BabyBjörn and taking a stroll.

And still many of us find our kids a convenient excuse not to exercise. They give us a bulletproof excuse. Who is going to argue with us that, with a couple of kids, we have no time?

Reluctant exercisers use parenthood as “an excuse to not do it at all,” said Dana Wood, a mother and the health and beauty director for Cookie, a parenting magazine.

Still, at this time of adjustment, we new Dads need to take time to keep up our fitness levels.

“Reducing their activity in this critical period of time is probably not going to help their adjustment in terms of a new person in their house,” Dr. Fulton (an epidemiologist in the division of nutrition and physical activity at the Centers for Disease Control) said. “The long-term stuff, the chronic-disease risk reduction, is great, but immediately, they’re not getting the mental-health benefit.”

Lately, I’ve realized how much I miss riding my bike. What had been a daily activity for 7 years has happened a handful of times in the past year. So, 2 weeks ago I started going for bike rides after the kids went to bed. The weather is cool and there is still enough daylight. It really is amazing how such a little thing like a 20 minute bike ride can completely clear your head and re-energize you.

I’m expecting a knock on the door from Child Protection any day now…

Last night while Mom and I were making dinner, The Girl fell asleep on the couch, rolled over, fell off the couch and whacked her head on the corner of the coffee table. She now has a big blue goose egg in the middle of her forehead, to go along with the nasty scar above her right eye caused by her little incident last weekend.

I read somehwere that every 6 months kids go through an emotional and physical development burst where they suddenly become uncoordinated and their emotions get out of control. It’s as if they regress a bit and their body needs to get back on track for the next burst of growth and development. I can certainly concur with that, considering the past 2 weeks we have had with The Girl. Not only has she been clumsy, but emotionally she has been a mess. We’ve had uncontrollable bursts of emotion almost everyday for the past 2 weeks and her behaviour swings so extremely that I am beginning to wonder if the word “toddler” isn’t Latin for bipolar.

Head wounds bleed…a lot

In case your kid should lose their balance on your bed, fall down and crack their head on the headboard of your bed you should know that head wounds bleed a lot.

We witnessed this point again Saturday morning. I was in the bathroom. The Girl, Boy and Mom, were all on our bed chatting and generally waking up. Suddenly I heard this awful crunch, followed by screams for The Girl, and a panic call for me from Mom. I ran out of the bathroom only to be met by a trembling Mom and even more trembling Girl in her arms, crying hysterically, blood gushing down the side of her head.

There is nothing that makes the bottom of your stomach drop to your feet like the site of your kid in pain and bleeding.

Mom hands The Girl to me. Into the bathroom we go and begin administering first aid. The gash just above her right eyebrow is nasty. The Girl is trembling, sobbing and crying as we begin to clean out the wound. I’m talking calm, quiet and doing my best to calm her down while getting a handle on the situation. I’m trying to be as matter of fact about the whole thing, knowing that my reaction fuels her reaction.

Here we are, in full blown crisis when suddenly, through her sobbing and crying she says, ‘I love you, Daddy.” It was the last thing I expected to hear from her at that moment and it struck me so hard that I had to take a second to pull it together before getting back to the task at hand.

I give her a cold cloth to hold over the cut while I start cleaning her up. She asks if she needs a bandaid and I said yes. She loses it again and start winding up. The Girl has had a thing about bandaids for awhile now. She had one that was an old school fabric one that got stuck on her skin a year or so ago. It hurt to get pulled off, and she’s been anti-bandaid ever since.

Mom thinks we need stitches. We have a brief conversation about how head wounds typically look worse than they are, and that the bleeding seems to be getting under control. But the cut is wide and nasty. So, because we can’t use a bandaid, I get some gauze (which is okay with The Girl) and a tensor bandage and wrap her head like a mummy. She thinks this is funny and laughs thru her sobbing.

However, the tensor keeps slipping. We need to get a bandage on her. She gets extremely upset when we mention bandage until my wife hits upon the idea to have her uncle and aunt put one on. They are nurses and seem to have some cred with The Girl and she agrees. So we call up my brother-in-law and his wife and ask if we can bring The Girl over and see if they can help out. They say of course (family is a wonderful thing) and The Girl and I hop into the car and drive across town to their house.

We get there and my brother-in-law meets us at the door with his stethoscope, hospital emergency room ID and other assorted medical paraphernalia and starts his work on The Girl. A few minutes later, the wound is closed, bandage is applied and everyones blood pressure begins to come back down to normal levels.

This is the third head wound for The Girl in the past year and a half, all just above the eye and all have been nasty bleeders. So, if you take anything from my adventure it’s this. Head wounds bleed…a lot. And, while this one was bad enough that we should have probably gone to the hospital for stitches, it looked a heck of a lot worse than it actually was.

White Noise: A Parents Best Friend at Bedtime

New parents repeat after me: white noise is our friend. White noise is good. Continue reading

Dads – Slightly Less Fearful Than Cooties

Congratulations Dads! We are among the things that have fallen off the list of “Things Kids Fear”, according to a new study from Australia’s Queensland University of Technology.

The researcher’s best guess is that we Dads are becoming more “reasonable” with our discipline techniques and not relying so much on more punitive measures, like corporal punishment for discipline.

I really don’t know how Dads from back then did it. The strict disciplinarian role seems so foreign to me. I mean, it would rip me up inside if I thought that The Girl was afraid of me, and it is inconceivable to me that I would ever hit my daughter.

So, score a point for today’s Dad, slightly less fearful than Dragon Pox and Dipsy-doodle-itis.

MMMMMinti Good

A peer-to-peer advice site for parents called Minti is up and running. Articles and advice are contributed by parents, giving the whole site a very nice community feeling, free of the spin (corporate, religious, ideological, political, what have you) of most parent advice sites. And users can rank the advice.

Minti – Powered by Parents – parent to parent advice-opedia