Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not Just Another Dad

I want to take a quick moment to thank my friend for volunteering to be he first guest post on my blog. I did my best not to restrain anyone who may want to do a guest post here. I am very impressed with what was written, and am proud to share it.

"Not Just Another Dad"

To tell you the truth I am not a father, the thought of it alone scares me. Now this is not to say that I don’t ever wish to be one. I am actually excited for the day when I can call someone my own. The reservations that I have stem from a long line of poor father figures. My father was not a good person, his father; from the little I remember of him was not a good father.
So it’s no surprise that every time I have been in a serious relationship I had always wondered the one question that bothers me the most. That being; will I be a crummy dad like mine? And if so, how do I break the “Curse” that seems to follow my family?

Thankfully I think I have found the answer to those pressing questions. My mother married a gentleman by the name is Jose when I was 12 and I have gotten a taste of what good parenthood is. Now I hope that one day I am as good as a parent as he was and still is. We talk often on the phone. More than I talk to my mom that is for sure. And while I don’t see that as a bad thing, I hope that he knows I appreciate him as much as I can express it without it being weird.

Fatherhood in my eyes is and should be a culmination of the ultimate in commitment. It makes me sad to see so many families fail and the kids pay the consequences. Now I know this isn’t every case, but its mine. So I think that I will wait to be married to start a family. I know that many un-married couples make it work without the need of a certificate. And I will not bore you with my religious propaganda. Because that is not what you came to see.

I will leave you with this; I am grateful for the many good fatherhood examples in my life, from friends to family members. I pray that one day, when that day comes when someone is crazy enough to marry me; I become half the father that my step dad didn’t have to be.

And yes folks I just quoted Mr. Brad Paisley!


[Thanks you JM]

Friday, May 13, 2011

Leave and Cleave

Derailed by Mom Issues:
With the passing of this past Mother's Day, I had been inspired to hash out a couple things in a new blog post.  However, I felt like there was so much I have in my head to say, that all the ideas trip over one another.  I have no clear train of though, because I can't complete any.  This is what my mom does to me.  I feel every emotion flood into my head, and nothing all at the same time. I've had three thoughts in my head, regarding my mom, but they continue to interrupt one another. Since I can't get the finished thoughts out of my head, I will get them away from having to keep looking at them in order to finish them.

This idea I kept coming back to, but it forces me to rethink about a time period that was really rough, and took my wife and I a few years to get beyond.  I had three other ideas I may revisit someday, but I don't like thinking about thins that are upsetting to me, and my mother is just that.  

"Mommy Dearest"
I am the youngest of seven, and I work with students who sometimes either can't talk, or not very well.  I see the world the way a behaviorist does; what you DO is who you ARE. To quote rapper DMX, "Talk is cheap!". I come from an eloquent, well-spoken, educated, and persuasive family.  I was fooled into thinking a lot of things growing up, and even though our words can be counter to our core character, our actions can only be counter to that core for so long.  A little bit of adversity, and I learned who my family really was, and who I really was.  

Matthew 12:46-50
While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him.  And one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking to speak to thee.  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?  And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, Behold, my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

A Very Long Engagement
In the Summer of 2003 I proposed to my wife.  In the time from that day until our wedding the following Summer, we experienced a lot of turmoil from external forces.  Just to give you an idea about what happened in the 12 month engagement aside from the usual wedding preparations: I visited her fam in Ecuador, returned to learn that my mom and step-dad were trying to use their influence in our church to stop our wedding, one of my brothers jumped on the band wagon, I tried to appease the situation by making him my Best Man, he agreed, later decided to cuss out my fiancĂ© over the phone and said he wouldn't be a part of my wedding, My mom made a plea to me not to marry my wife, My fiancĂ© and I went to counseling to deal with this situation, I met my BioDad, I did not invite my mother to a wedding she did not want to occur, she still did not show up, we had a beautiful wedding with 400+ in attendance, an amazing reception where we danced until almost midnight, and will be married for 7 years this Summer.  That's the engagement in a nutshell.  

Mom is MIA
Throughout the entirety of my engagement, and on the day of my wedding, I struggled with the loss of relationship with my mother.  Even though I was closer to my Step-Dad, it is the relationship with my mom I feel that she cheated me out of. Because if the way she raised me, and the things she said to me, I assumed that she would be a great mother-in-law and grandmother, ultimately.  I still have a hold-out for my kids to know their grandmother, but I won't force ANY negative influence into their lives.  I grew up with a mother who was very strong and determined it's where I get those qualities), but the reality is closer t insecure and confused.  I don't know if I will ever get a chance to talk with the strong woman who raised me; I think she is gone from me forever.  

The Mother of MY Children
The idea of mother, when i think about what I think it should be, and what I experience, they do not always match up.  As a mother, would you tell your child that they were an accident, almost aborted, conceived in hate?  Of course not, because you are most likely a well-adjusted individual.  My wife is constantly amazed at the miracle that is our children.  She is awe-struck an the idea that these two beautiful being are the product of us.  She is protective, she builds them up, she teaches them, she trains them, she disciplines them, she is creative in how she interacts with them.  She is an amazing mother.  I hope to talk her into writing on this blog one day [fingers crossed].  I never have, and I never will have any fears about my kids when they are with their mother.  

I love my wife.  When I see the things she does for our kids, I don't wish that I had those things from my own mother.  However, I do wish she was able to be around to be those things for her grandchildren.  

I live two miles from my mom, and we're worlds apart.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thinking Globally

Reaction to Osama's Death

Since my wife and I do not have cable tv (Netflix streaming & Hulu+) we do not have the constant onslaught of news coverage or the persistent bombardment of commercial consumerism. I get my news from certain online sources and by listening to the news on my commute to and from work.  However, when there is a breaking story, like the announcement of Osama's death, I found out when I checked Facebook on my iPhone. The thing that I found most striking in the posts was the reactions.

There were two kinds of posts that I found most disheartening. The first was the false sense of relief that the war on terro has reached it's climax and we can now bring our troops back. The other was the taunt-like tone in some of the posts that celebrated the death of Osama.  I still remember being woken up by my mom to turn on the news on September 11th. I still remember how the country became briefly patriotic.  To be honest, it was nice to feel like we were all America! 

Cultural Happy Meals

We are two days from Cinco de Mayo, a day we narcissistic Americans assume is the Mexican independence Day (it's actually September 16th), and this is just a small example of how we have boxed up the rest of the world's cultures.  We have placed gross generalizations on populations of peoples that are older, more diverse, and more populated than ours.  What does it say about Americans when we don't even respect our closest neighbors?  We have boiled Mexico's culture down to a burrito and a talking Chihuahua in a Taco Bell commercial.  The most constant Mexican influence we have is George Lopez.  

I don't quite want to wrap this up in a nice bow.  I'd like to get some feedback on this question: How do you raise children who will be conscious of their global community?  I will post about how my wife and I are trying at a later time, but I want to know if anyone will respond in the comments below.  How do we teach our children to sift through the consumerism, the stereotyping, and the categorizing to find their true place in the world, and to become a global citizen of the human race?  What are you doing, have you done, or are planning on doing?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 NFL Draft

As I sit down and watch the NFL Draft, I see a cycle where young men are pitted against men with the weight of the world on their shoulders, and asked to do what most people are not asked to do in their lifetime: earn this multimillion dollar signing bonus.

Without having to do any research, some names that jump into my head are: Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Alex Smith, and more...  These guys are talented boys playing a great game at a high level.  They are full of passion, desire, and love of the game and their teammates. Suddenly, the dynamics of the game change with the calling of their name on draft day.

There is something horribly flawed in our culture with how highly we value entertainment over content. It has become a shot to our manhood if we have to move back in with our parents in a recession, but other cultures already understand the value of family.

Monday, April 25, 2011

For the Love of Money

I came across a blog contest posed by Memoirs of a Single Dad (@M_oa_SD) that asks bloggers to answer the question of why we are here: for love or for money.  

For me this is an easy answer: I'm not making any money, so I must be in it for love, right?  Well, there's a lot of things I do for love and for the intangible rewards.  I workout, I teach Special Education, and I play city-league flag football with friends.  I have only been blogging as @ManvDadhood since October 2010, and have not quite built up my readership to the point of gaining anything monetary from it.  

So the question for me is, "If I was making money from my blog, what would I do differently?"  Would I do anything differently?   It's hard to say, but I think that if I got to the point where my blog was no longer acting as the therapeutic outlet that it is now, then I would have to diversify my focus.  I have already posted about my more-than-awesome LG Vacuum, and I did a piece for Dadstalking.com, and I now have a bimonthly column on TheCaffeineCoquette.com, but even that is another opportunity to get some more thoughts out of my head on dadhood and manhood.  

What DO I want?

In the long-run, is it money or love that drives me?  Both can be intoxicating, and I think that if I try really hard to "take the high road" and do this for love, and then I get the opportunity to do it for money, I may miss a great thing by trying to force some moral code on blogging that may not be necessary.  Right now, I am enjoying myself.  I am connecting with some great people, and am getting myself out there.  Would i pass up an opportunity to get some extra perks from doing this?  Of course not, but would that then drive me?  I know myself, and I wouldn't  

The intangible rewards have yet to be surpassed by pocket change.  



Sunday, April 24, 2011


Is is Recreation, or Re-Creation.  Is it a hobby or a necessity.  It is becoming a beast on the field, or is it becoming a new you?  What does it take to re-create yourself?  Can you ever truly become something/someone new if you still do the same things?  If I still do the things that a teen does, then doesn't that make me a teen?  If I walk, and talk like a duck, doesn't that mean I can become a duck?  What if I wear feathers and tell everyone to call me Donald or Daffy?  Do we re-create ourselves on the outside, or does true recreation... re-creation happen from the inside out?  

Re-Creation or Recreation. 

If I could... add my own philosophy to this (if you have to say you are something, it is not apparent enough to be true), then saying you are new, is not good enough.  You have to actually be new, or you are, in fact, old... the same ol' old.  I never said I was anything but "just Joe."  If you tell me you are X, and you act like Y, what am I to think?  If you say you've always been Y, but had to act like X, then I've only known you in a lie.  Either way, there is no history for us to build on.  



Monday, April 18, 2011

Ramblings on The BroHood and ManHood

There is something that I will always be no matter what... a brother.  No matter how hard I try, I will never out-grow it, I will never move on to something bigger and better.  From the moment I was born, until the day I die, I will always be someone's brother.  There is no changing that.  

Being a man, on the other hand, is not a given.  There is only one influence that is able to validate your rite of passage into manhood. It is not the prostitute or stripper your friends paid for to "usher" you into your manhood.  It's not how fast you can round the bases with your girlfriend. The only influence that can do this for boys is that of a father-figure.

Before I continue, I should point out that I have a very high level of respect for step-fathers.  In fact, I had a high level of respect for mine growing up, and I didn't even meet my BioDad until my early twenties.  But when you build your reputation, and the basis for who you are and what you mean to an individual on an intricate bed of lies, then it only takes one piece of truth to unravel it all.  In a very unspecific way, that is the best way I can explain my lost relationship with my step-dad.

To quote John Eldredge, the author of Wild at Heart, "Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow to the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father."  

I feel overjoyed (sarcasm) that I was able to connect with my BioDad and lose my relationship with my step-dad around the same time. It was like I looked up one day, and I was suddenly fatherless. Now, if my step-dad was a fraction of the man he spent years convincing me and others he was, then he would still be in my life, and I wouldn't have had a need to start this blog. But he isn't. He's not even the opposite of the man he said he was... he's nothing. The last time I bumped into him, I had zero emotional response.  I actually was surprised at how much I didn't care to even look at him. Why? He became a stranger to me. How can I hate him when I don't even know him?  

My BioDad is another case all together. Most of my anger towards him was because of how he was vilified by my mother. Am I excusing him? Not at all. Did she take his kids from him? Yes. He told me he left the state because he was so angry that he was going to do something violent. So, maybe I should be grateful he didn't make me motherless, but he didn't put out the effort hot be in our lives.  Until I was in my twenties, I had NO conscious memory of him, and no idea what he looked like. I could have walked by him and never knew it.  Since he was never around, he doesn't know how to be BE around. He went from missing to absentee.

UPDATE: While working on this post I received an email from my BioDad saying that he's moving to Cali in 2 weeks.  I don't know if I have a reaction to this, or if I just want to have a reaction to this.  I am disappointed, and I want to keep from the cliche "Fine, I didn't want you around anyway!" reaction.  

All this to say that i am a 30-year-old father of 2 with daddy issues I may not be able to get resolved.  There is a missing rite of passage in my journey to manhood.  

Why doesn't a brother have the ability to become this influence in a young man's life?  He just doesn't.  Consider the situations where you hear these phrases:
"You're the man of the house now." 
"You're not my dad."  
"Heir Apparent." 
"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."  

How does a brother validate or usher a boy into manhood?  Can they?  What is so significant in the relationship between father and son that when that relationship is broken, or damaged, both parties suffer.  I have mentioned in a previous post, I have had trouble with my relationships with one of my brothers, but this was not a relationships I ever felt internally and deeply hurt by.  Yes, I was angered by them, but they would never send me to therapy.  

I have recently been hit by the realization that phrases like, "He's not heavy, he's my brother" and, "Am I my brother's keeper?" have limitations.  I am not only human, but a flawed human.  I can only handle so much.  I can only forgive so much.  I can only forgive what has been asked of me to be forgiven.  I am working on forgiving in the face of continued offense.  I'm working on it.  

I may not be able to resolve my daddy issues, but I still hope to resolve my brother-issues.  

I realize that this post was all over the place, but I had to get it out of my head to think straight again.  Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to join the discussion and leave a comment. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Man Song: The Aviator

My mom used to tell me that the music you listen to has to have a reason... Even though I don't agree with that statement, fully, I think that there are some songs that hit us in a way we can't always explain.  It may be the whole song, or just part of it.  It may be a good song, and it may not be.  This is one of those ify situations.  I don't know if this is a great song or not... I can't really make it past these words in the chorus:
I'm just a man
Doin' the best he can
Doin' the best he can
I'm just a man

I might fall short
But I love a unseen hand
Love the unseen hand
Love the unseen hand

 The song is called The Aviator, by a Canadian Hip Hop artist named K-Os (chaos).  

The idea of an unseen hand, however yo interpret that, is a powerful visual to a parent.  There are many times where raising kids makes us feel like we've missed being perfect, or we worry that we may have done or will do something to cause them to go to therapy some day.  There is hope that the "unseen" hand will still be there to guide them in spite of our shortcomings.  As a parent... as a dad, that is comforting, because I know who that "unseen" hand is for me.  HE has brought me a wonderful wife and beautiful children.  Check out the song.  Tell me what you think.  


Wordless Wednesday PDX

Here's some pics from our car ride back from Portland a month ago.  The kiddos were worn out!  All (except the first) pics taken with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. 
Knocked out 20 minutes into the drive back to Seattle

He was so so so tired.

Covered in The Wife's scarf on her Tigger PillowPet


The Wife was behind the camera (phone)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Networking Means Working

I am super excited that I have recently been picked up by two blog sites. I'm not sure if this is a great feat or not, but it means that this whole "social networking" thing kind of works.

A few weeks ago I sent a tweet out to a guy I follow asking for tips to becoming a writer for a blog site. His response was awesome, because he said my timing was perfect and that they were actually looking for a new writer. *SWEET!!!

The other day, I received a comment on my Role Models post telling me where she saw the link for my blog from and stating that she was interested in finding a dad-blogger to do a feature on her mom-blog site. Of course, I accepted. Long stories short, I will be doing a bi-monthly feature on theCaffeineCoquette.com on the first and third Tuesday of the month, AND I was given a quick assignment by DadsTalking.com to write a post about the TRON & TRON: Legacy disc releases today.

I am very excited to get the chance to do these kinds of things. Once upon a time I thought about being some kind of writer, but the lifestyle of a novelist, and the demands of a journalist were never appealing to me. So, I guess blogging was the invention I was waiting for.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Role Models

My daughter, Pebbles, is four years old and still believes (*ahem...knows) that her daddy, me, is the STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD. Who am I to tell her otherwise. A couple days after she said this, I saw yet another fight among players in an NBA game while watching ESPN. What do these two events have in common? To me, the correlation is simple: to my four year old, I AM her role model, and I am trying my best to be the right example for her. It is important to me to continue to be that role model for her. Pro players, whether they are a good role model or not, should not be your child's role model. To me, this is just parents being lazy, like having the TV babysit your own children (which I know I do at times).

I shouldn't be so hard on professional athletes, they ARE just children. They are someone else's child. Why would I expect them to be able to set an example for my kids when they are only children themselves. I'm 30, and I still worry about being the right example for my kids as they grow, so why would I want them to loom up to someone else's child who doesn't have any stake in the successes or failures of my kids? I value education as a third-generation college grad and a 2nd-generation post-grad, but these kids come out of college with barely more credits than if they went to a community college and someone hands them a multimillion dollar bonus check.

I wish I could say that it is an age thing and that they will grow wiser with age, but Brett Favre dismissed that argument this past year. Who, in their right mind, send a picture of their old, greying, receding-hairlined, loose-skinned JOHNSON to a beautiful young woman and think that is all it takes? So, maybe i shouldn't pick on pro players, because their profession is to play, so I shouldn't expect too much out of a business that does not encourage it's employees to act with character and integrity.

I'm not even going to talk about musicians or actors, because that is too easy, so I'll mention politicians. [sigh] Now that I think about them, they upset me as well. Here is a group of delinquents who shoot a whole in my previously mentioned notions of education as a value and proves that it doesn't provide for better role models. Politicians, are notoriously just as bad. And why is this? What makes celebrities so out of touch with reality? And why would we want our children to look to them for examples? They typically come from two different backgrounds; one is in the business of producing revenue and entertainment, and the other is in the business of governing the land.

What bothers me most about politicians is that what I feel towards them doesn't come from watching tripe news or doing research, but from personal experience. I was fortunate enough to witness first-hand how a politician become blinded to the reality around them in an attempt to "stand for values" and win voter approval across several value sets. What comes of a person whose business is to be a people-pleaser but they don't realize it?

All this to come back to my original question: who is your child's role model? And why would you let someone else steal that level of influence in their life from you?

Join in the discussion...


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life Imitates Art of War

This post will show the way my head works; I find obvious and obscure correlations and connections between things. Much like my parenting tips as Sports Analogies post (which were obvious), I like to find ways to relate anything to anything else. It is one of my strengths as a Special Education teacher, and I like to see the wheels begin to turn as skillA relates to activityB. It is also what made me an above-average used car salesman (yeah, I was one once).

I was thinking about roles of those in authority and how we as parents teach these roles to our kids. One way or another (it took me a while, and I don't really remember how) I started thinking about military tactics and parenting tactics. Then I began thinking about the different roles soldiers play in war, and how it relates to the type of parenting we do at times. The following list is what I came up with:

BOMBER PILOT: Heavy-handed disciplinarian, when you're around.  Your kids know your name, but refer to you as The Hammer.  You swoop in at the end of the day to dole out punishments with harsh precision because the ground forces (see GRUNTS) called for reinforcements.  May be the style of the executive parent, or you will see this in a single-income home.  "Wait 'til your father/mother gets home."

BUFFALO SOLDIER: Parents who succeed despite everything. Socio-economic status, community environment, single parent, divorce, traumatic event, etc do now deter this parent from giving their child ALL they can. They are the exception to the rule, and do not conform to the statistics. Their child may be the first in their family to go to college.

ENTRENCHED SOLDIER: Stuck in a stalemate. Unable to see what's coming. Unwilling to give ground. Shooting blindly at issues that do not relate to what their kids are dealing with. Feel as if they are going nowhere, but are afraid to try something new.

GRUNTS: Put in the hard work of parenthood. They are the first to get up and have everything ready in the morning, and the last to sleep at night once everyone is fed, clean, and happy. Some Stay-At-Home parents may feel like this, or like they are trying to take the beach at Normandy every morning. ;-)

KAMIKAZEE PILOTS: Parents who seem to sacrifice their own life and happiness to be parents. Abandon all for the title and status of parent. They forget personal hobbies, or interests, and their whole identity becomes that of So-and-So's parent.

THE SABOTEUR: Parents who either knowingly or unwittingly undermine their child's ability to be successful. A parent who is an enabler. Some kids who receive special education services may not have internal disabilities, but disabling parents.

THE SNIPER: A master of working behind the scenes. They recognize possible issues before they arise, plan to have themselves in a position to have it in their sights, and deals with the issue quickly so that it doesn't grow out of proportion, or seem like an issue at all.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN: when a child has an extended household devote to their success through life. This may be actual family members assuming partial responsibility of raising the kids, or friends and community members making sure all kids show respect and are safe.

So, this is what came out of my head. Are there any I missed?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Memory Lane

This is an old post I found from my old blog.  It's about 2 years old.  Nostalgic:

It amazes me when I look back at the days when I had a “little” baby that would cozy on my chest…
Camo sleeping on daddy
She used to be the sweetest most innocent thing and she was a little doll. However, she is has grown into a feisty little toddler, that already acts like she runs the show.
Ropes Course 003
She has become this little ball of personality and highs and lows. She goes from extreme happiness to hearing the words “nite nite” or “nap time” and suddenly her world crumbles around her. We had a brief stint where she tried to throw temper tantrums and she soon found out that they would not be dealt with and found herself alone yelling at no one, and those seem to have gone as as as they came. Though she still says not to nap time, she still walks herself to her bed and lays down.
Now, when she tries to come and share our bed in the lazy weekend mornings, I get kicked out of my spot, and my pillow becomes her pillow. She has her opinion and will let you know it. She is defiant to fault, but she keeps me on my toes, and I don’t ant to take that away from her. We want her to question the norms and not do what everyone else is doing, and we want her to be able to do her own thing and not care about anyone else. As she continues to grow, I can only hope to have a little girl that will try and fail and be honest in failures so she can learn to succeed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Need for Emotional Health

Even though my wife may see it differently, I am the dad I am because of the failing of my own dads (step-dad and bio-dad).  I will touch on this from time to time.  What I want to talk about is something that has shaped the way I relate to everyone, especially my kids.    

For lack of a better term, I'll describe the household I grew up in as dramatic.  My mom was dramatic.  My older brother was dramatic.  If my sister was dramatic, I didn't notice because I thought that was normal.  Maybe dramatic is not the right word.  So I will describe the situation and I'll let you tell me how the environment was.  

As the youngest, in a household that was ordered by a literal chain of command, I was careful to try not to make rub anyone the wrong way.  There were individuals in my household who I had to gauge which mood they were in before continuing to enter their proximity or engaging them.  When they were upset, I was just a fly on the wall.  When they were in a good mood, I would hope that it would last so I wouldn't end up subjected to the whims of mood-swings.  I learned to listen to how things were said to read people's moods; word choice, and what became issues and what they let slide.  I watched body language to see how they were feeling; repetitive motions, signs of exhaustion, or frustration. 

As a private in this military family, I HAD TO follow orders of my older siblings.  I could not say no, or I would be subject to Court Marshall; getting beat up or something.  The buck stopped on me.  There was nowhere else for it to go.  I saw how someone else would get yelled at, and it would only be a matter of time (usually minutes) before that anger was thrown at me.  I would most likely get berated for something that had nothing to do with me.  I noticed as consequences did not match the crimes committed.  It felt like I was often put on Death Row for running a red light.

What kind of relationships does this dynamic create?  Unhealthy ones.  In me, I learned to shut out my own family.  The words that they said, no longer had any real meaning anymore.  I was subjected to verbal bashings, but at a young age, what I thought was not letting them bother me was actually internalizing it.  Since I never dealt with what I was told I was (selfish, nothing, lazy, etc...), it creeps up every now and again.  I squashed any reactions I may have had to teasing and prodding when I learned that it was the reaction that was the goal.  In other words, I stopped showing anger, or anything.  Even now I don't like to be angry, because I think it takes me back to being a little kid who has no control over anything. 
In others, they learned to let their emotional whims take them wherever they pleased because they had me to make them feel better.  Whether that was ranting and venting at/on me, forcing me to go joyriding in the family truck, even though I didn't want to, so they wouldn't be in trouble alone, or waking me up in the middle of the night to yell at me to do tasks and chores at 3 in the morning.  I shut down and became a drone, and they were enabled to become narcissistic.  

What has been the lasting effect?  I am diligently guarded, and closed to almost anyone.  In instances that should be very emotional, I am not; I don't know how to be.  Both years in high school when my football team lost in the playoffs, my friends and teammates were brought to tears, especially our senior year.  I was not.  I was detached from the feelings and the emotions of the game.  Nothing at funerals. Nothing at tragedy.  I understand what emotions others are feeling, and what I should feel, but I just don't feel it.  I get wildly uncomfortable when anyone outside of my wife starts getting to close to me.  She has cracked this shell, but I don't know if I can open up to anyone else. 

As a dad, I am conscious to never address my kids in my own frustrations, anger, tantrums, etc... I do my best to act out emotional responses for her to see how her actions have an effect on others, but I don't do anything brashly, or without thinking.  At least, I don't think I do.  But I DO know that I do not yell at either kids in anger.  I have a loud voice when I need it, and I use it as an attention grabber, and not as a punishment.  My only worry is will I be able to teach my kids to be emotionally healthy when I don't think that I am?  

I know I am able to let my kids know what to expect when they see me.  I am never gonna snap at them.  They will hear me yell only to be heard over noise, or the get their attention when safety is a factor.  Consequences have more of a lasting effect when delivered calmly as a natural effect of their actions.  

Sometimes I feel like I want to open up to a couple close friends, I just... can't do it.  


Sports Analogy Parenting Tips

I do my best to stay away from stereotypes.  Whether it's from being a young Black male, or a jock, I do what i can to not fit into the social norms and molds that we (even me) expect when we see someone such as myself.  I LOVE sports, but I'm not a sports nut.  I enjoy the strategy and tactical decisions made on gameday.  I also love to compete, and it doesn't matter whether I win or lose, but I will not always lose.  ;-)

I was thinking about some ways that dads are better at parenting, but i thought that would be alienating because there's some moms, and some family members who might slap me when they see me again.  I was going to turn it into a post about the changing roles of the Modern Dad, and how we handle certain situations, but I thought that would make me seem like I was trying too hard.   So I finally settled on doing some parenting tips in the form of sports analogies.  If you get lost in my "logic" or how I make the connection, I can't help you, because I haven't had enough coffee to be fully coherent yet.  So here it goes:

Parenting Tips as Sports Analogies:
  1.  Learn from mistakes and move on.  Every Sunday and Monday night we watch as quarterback after quarterback after [Hasselback] throws an interception, and screws up the momentum and flow that your team was on.  Maybe they even ruined a scoring opportunity and threw an interception in the endzone, or it was picked off and run back for 6 the other way.  Regardless of the reason, that QB has to get back out there again and NOT make that same mistake.  There are no counseling sessions, there's not interventions, there's not "we need to talk" moments with him and his coach; there isn't time.  With kids we need to learn from the mistake, quickly, and move on from it.  
  2. "Real-food" poopy diapers are NOT bonding moments.  The way I see it, if a NASCAR driver can have all four tires changed, and be refueled as quick as they do, then I should be able to change these human-crimes-in-diapers while holding a single breath.  Now, when they are little and breastfeeding and the poop is not bad smelling, and they are learning how to recognize you, then that's a GREAT bonding opportunity.  However, when they start eating real foods, and their poop now smells like $h!t, it's time to get it, change it up, and get out!  At this age, all the OTHER moments are for bonding.  
  3. The Head Coach doesn't coach alone.  No matter who the coach is, he is only as good as his assistants.  I don't want to get caught up in gender roles, but I've seen what happens to college programs and families when the head coach leaves the institution.  Don James (my favorite college coach, EVER) left the University of Washington (he was old and retired), and his assistant tried to fill in, and the program is still recovering from it.  I have had many heart-to-heart talks with kids growing up without their head coach, and it's a sad and unfortunate situation for those kids.  Maybe it's a head coach trying to coach without his assistant; that still doesn't work.  It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a full coaching staff to create a winning program. 
  4. Study your scouting reports.  Watch your kids.  See what they like.  Give them dilemmas and see what decisions they make.  Watch what they watch.  Dance how they dance.  Joke how they joke... kind of.  I was never nervous about the opposing team because I knew what they would do in certain situations.  Get to know your kids early so that when they are out as teens, you know what their tendencies will be, and you know how they will handle situations that will arise.  
  5. The WWE is FAKE!  But while your kids are young, they should think they are winning, or beating you up for real.  Taking down giants, and the "strongest daddy in the world" builds confidence.  I win some, and I lose some, but she has fun, because it's all entertaining for her.  I don't want her to never try or think she knows I will always win.  What will that teach them?
I hope you enjoyed the list.  What else could I add to it?  Comment below!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 22March11

Here's some pics from the other day when the whole fam was playing around.  The Wife has the better "camera eye" so she's taking these beauties.

BamBam does what he can to keep up with Pebbles

Never a doubt that she is mine

A calm moment

Some hugs can NEVER be too tight!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moment of Self-Awareness

I've been known to be funny.  I have developed my sarcasm.  I ignore my introverted-ness at times.  I exploit my Alpha-Dog within.  I hide my inner Geek (sometimes).  I stomp out the urges to yell.  I still don't understand emotions (mine or others').  I know how those who don't know me may categorize me upon seeing me, and it intrigues me.  I used to go to the store in baggy hooded sweats and have headphones in my ear without any music playing just to hear what people say when they think you can't hear them.  I love mirrored sunglasses.  The behavior of people intrigues me; that's why I do what I do for work.  

I don;t think there's a way to translate the behaviorist side of myself into this blog.  My sense of humor is passive-aggressive, sarcastic, subtle, inappropriate, and just mean sometimes.  But how does someone bounce back and forth from mommy-issues to a vacuum they enjoy, to manhood, to anger-management, to his little princess, to his son, to race issues, to techie concerns, to special Education developments, to whatever and still maintain a captive audience?  

If I've learned anything from no one, it's that anyone can teach you something at any moment.  

I have had a great response to some of my more"inspired" posts, and I think that the pressure I felt to do some equally deep follow-up posts was self-imposed.  Yes, I want to discuss some heavier issues in my life, but I am not a deep, touchy-feely, cum-by-yah, "everyone's a winner" kind of person.  I am, in fact a fairly simple person... or at least I think I am.  My own philosophy is that if you have to tell people you are something, then you are not it.  If you were, then people would know that.  But is that the case when it comes to an online persona?

Am I doing the Modern Dad a disservice by trying to stick to one niche?  since today's dads are "EVERY-MEN", who am I to try and stick myself into a box?  My own Twitter profile explains the many sides of me thus far: Ex College Athlete, Husband, Dad, Geek, Special Education teacher... Just trying my best.  But that still scratches my surface.  I am a diapering/greco-roman-style baby wrestler.  I am a battlefield medic, ordering the able troop (Peables) to go retrieve supplies while helping a downed soldier tend to his wounds (poop and a diaper rash).  I am the strongest-weakest, fastest-slowest, best-worst wrestler/dancer ever as I balance being the strongest dad ever with getting beaten up by my kids.  I have Love-Amnesia: I get annoyed at little things my wife does, but I'm so happy to see her when we're home that I forget, and she's just perfect.  I am a dormant volcano of a has-been athlete that I have to calm myself from going too hard too fast when I get a chance to compete.  I am a pushover of a disciplinarian.  I am the head, and I show examples of how to follow, and how to lose.  I can nap while my kids are jumping all over me.  I am an educator of modern-mythologies (comics). 

I am a dad.  I am a modern dad.  

I am everything my pack needs me to be. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Vacuum SUCKS!!!

Bagless? HEPA? Canister? Upright? Cyclone? Dyson?  
There's a LOT of vacuum terminology out there, and if you haven't figured it out yet, YES this is a vacuum review!   
I am not a stranger to vacuuming.  As the youngest of many, I was often helping the older ones with all the household chores until they graduated and I got toe privilege of doing ALL of them.  I am not a stranger to vacuums, and my wife did not teach me how t use it.  With children who are always on the floor, you want the big non-edibles to be out of the way.  The Wife and i took some time to pick out our old vacuum, which was good and lasted us several years.  We looked at warranties, durability, price, and the brand's reputation.  We settled on a bag-less Dirt Devil back in 2005 with a 3 year warranty. 

Since  then, there's definitely been a shift in how some items are marketed.  Women are not the ONLY Stay-At-Home parent anymore, and household roles have shifted from women doing all the cleaning.  There is a company that noticed this, and made this as their vacuum's commercial:

LG, a company that makes decent flat panel TVs, mediocre phones, and just about every other consumer electronic has just made a new customer for vacuums... of all things.  But aside from the cool commercial what does the vacuum ACTUALLY OFFER???

I want to point out a couple things:
1) The Kompressor Squidgy!!!
          This feature is the #1 thing that sold me on getting this vacuum versus any other vacuum.  I have emptied vacuum bags, and canisters for decades, and the cloud of dust and lint is a headache whenever you have to empty it.  It gets to the point where I have to empty the vacuum canister out in the garage, and hold my breath as I try to knock of a filthy filter and put it back into place.  This Kompressor squidgy lets you empty your vacuum into ANY garbage can without a mushroom cloud of dust and debri. The picture on the right is what happens when you empty this vacuum!   When I saw that, I was sold!!!  

2) Triple Sucking Power!!
          After we ordered this vacuum, we were diligent in vacuuming our house on a regular basis.  We did this especially in our bedroom and closet because it was not a high-traffic area, and we'd be able to test out just how different the vacuum was from our current Dirt Devil.  As you can see in the picture on the right, the LG cleans a LOT deeper into the carpets than our Dirt Devil. 

3)  Clean you can feel!
          When you turn this vacuum on, it will feel as if is has suctioned itself to the floor.  You can feel it cleaning deeper and deeper into the floors.  It is nice, because you can feel it cleaning, and you can tell once you're done, because it does not smell like you vacuumed, it just smells clean.  It has a closed filtration system, so you don't have that vacuum exhaust that smells like hot dust.  Once we cleaned the house with the LG Kompressor, it was just clean.  The carpets were actually CLEAN and not surface-brushed. 

Now, the vacuum is on the heavy  side of most vacuums, but 22 pounds is not heavy.  Besides, it is easier to carry up and down stairs because of the placement of the handle (right above the center of gravity) makes it easy to lift. 

If I had an actual review score for products, I would give this a 9.7 out of 10 for vacuums.  We found the best deal on it through Amazon.com, and have been happy with it from the first moment we turned it on. 

Now, anyone can make fun of me as much as they want for making a post like this about a vacuum, but I paid less than $300 (including shipping for a vacuum that s the quality of an $800 Dyson. 

So... MY VACUUM SUCKS...  does yours?