Sunday, June 29, 2014

The West Wing clip: "Babies come with hats"

So, I've spent bits of time here and there over the last four years rewatching old West Wing
episodes. I've seen them all many times, but while recovering from
surgery a few years ago, I decided to watch them all again in order. And
then I became a father for the first time. And then three years later a
second time. So it's taken me some time to get through it.

last week I watched the season four finale "25" again, but as a father
it's a totally different experience. If you don't know, this is the
episode where the president's daughter is kidnapped, and the
Communications Director's twins are born.

I'm not really that emotional usually, but there's this one scene (below) which is amazing. It was always amazing, but now that I'm a father, it's so heart-wrenching. The whole episode really is. If you're a parent and you watch this, be prepared to cry (I couldn't find it on YouTube, but I also love the line where Will says, "It's a stunning act of patriotism and a fairly ordinary act of fatherhood." about the president stepping down due to his daughter's kidnapping).

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I love this Tide commercial!

So we were listening to Pandora tonight, and a commercial came on. Normally, we ignore the commercials and wait impatiently for the next song to come on, but I was sitting at the computer when it all happened and I actually watched this whole commercial:

My first thought? YAY!!! This is an amazing commercial!

And this commercial is amazing for so many different reasons. First of all, it's breaking so many gender stereotypes of household cleanser commercials. Normally, you'd have a mother talking about how amazing the detergent is that it can get mud and grass and blood stains out of her "active" boys' clothing. Here, that stereotype is totally turned around by the father saying that he thought he knew stains from growing up with three brothers, but his three girls "make us look like amateurs." Wow, you're kidding me! Girls get dirty too! On the one hand, it's amazing that it took Tide this long to figure that out, but still, well done for joining the present!

More importantly though, I love this commercial because it's a dad actually taking care of the laundry and not being an idiot about it. I mean, for some time now, part of me thought that there was a federal law out there saying that if there is a father in a commercial and it's not about Father's Day, the father has to be clueless, a moron, or both. It's as if someone is getting royalties every time a father does something idiotic in a commercial.

Just to be clear, I'm not looking for a commercial where the mother is the one making the bonehead moves or anything. I just don't like how it's always the father. There was a time when there were no men in these commercials at all. Then the companies decided that if they were going to put a man in the commercial, he was going to be a fumbling idiot because only the wife/mother could truly take care of household issues. Now, maybe we're moving past that era.

I love that there's not a mother anywhere in sight in this commercial! Usually the best you can hope for is that the father does the laundry/dishes/cleaning correctly and the mother of the household gives him a condescending "Atta boy!" look. Here, it's just the father being a father. He's taking care of things around the house. The only hint of stupidity is when he believes for a second that one of his daughters is actually offering to help (and I like to think that it's really just wishful thinking more than stupidity).

So again, to recap, a household goods commercial where it's the girls who make the mess, the father who is taking care of things, no condescension, no stupid dad moves, and a father who is actually capable of being a father. I hope that Proctor & Gamble keeps up this kind of commercial, and that other companies take their lead. I know that it will influence what products I start to buy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

1+1 does NOT equal 2!

So I've been really bad about blogging over the last several months, and I'm going to try to change that. It's not from a lack of ideas. No, I've had plenty of ideas, just no time/drive to actually sit down and write.

The thing I've realized since my daughter E was born, is that when it comes to kids, going from one child to two doesn't simply mean twice the work. For any math folk out there, it's not a linear equation (Math is fun! -- right Mom?). And, while I did write a couple of blog posts after E was born (mostly about my son J though), once she started having a real personality of her own, things changed.

The reality is that somethings are easier the second time around and others are much more difficult --

Leaving the house -- With J, it was such a struggle to leave the house. We were late to just about everything after he was born and we were always concerned that we didn't have enough stuff for whatever it is we were doing. (I think we were a good 40 minutes late to his first doctor's appointment). When I took care of J during February vacation when he was 7 months, the first day I didn't leave the house at all, and the second day when I simply put him in a stroller and walked around the block, I chalked that up as a major win and didn't do anything the rest of the week. Now with E, not only do I have no problem taking her out of the house and doing things, I think we are actually doing more out of the house family things than before she was born. A few weeks ago, we actually went out to dinner as a family TWICE in one weekend. I know. AMAZING!

Minor multitasking -- When J was little, the idea of doing more than one thing with him was insane. "No honey, I can't bring your cup over, I am holding our son!" Now, multitasking is kind of our default position. It has to be with two kids. J wants a story read while E is trying to take a bottle? Easy, just have J turn the pages (he already knows about books that have cds that go along with them, all I have to do is read a page and then say "DING!"). What was that? My wife is going to be home a bit later? No problem! I'll pick up the kids, and start cooking dinner (Ok, this one I can only really manage well if E is sleeping by the time we get home and I plunk J in front of Fireman Sam, but still...)

Routines -- They are simply mandatory now. There is no choice. And they make life generally a bit easier too, so double bonus!

Picture taking -- I totally get now why there are always so many fewer pictures of second children than first (that's not to say that I totally forgive my parents for that one, but I understand it a bit more :)). It's not just a matter of time, although that's part of it, but also logistics. Getting both of the kids in a picture is damn-near impossible. Plus, with a 3.5 year old who doesn't stop wiggling and moving, and a baby who sees us get out our phones to take a picture and instantly starts moving closer in (she's such a ham), the vast majority of our pictures are blurs.
Even touching moments are blurry
Mealtime -- This is surprisingly harder, especially now that E is starting to eat real foods. The issue here really is one of distraction. It's hard to tell which child is more easily distracted, but especially when they are eating, J will do something that E will then laugh at and then J will keep doing it. Or, conversely, when my wife needs to spoon-feed E her food, J wants her to do the same thing (more on him copying her later). Before E was born, J was great at sitting and eating. And eating and eating. Now, he wiggles, gets down from his seat and his generally distracted during the entire process making it much more difficult.

Time management -- This is the big one. I know my wife and I both feel it, but having enough time for both kids, each other, our jobs, and side things that we want to do (for my wife it's running, for me it's writing) is simply not happening. And of course I always have great ideas and intentions. "After the two kids go to sleep, we'll spend quality time together/do work/work out/solve the problems of the world."And then 8:30 comes around and I sit on the couch, turn on reruns of Big Bang Theory, and the best that I can manage to do most nights is to get up and get some dessert to eat on said couch. That's it. It's just plain exhaustion really. I don't think it's being tired so much (I've  been tired since J was born, and sleep hasn't been any worse since E came), but really just a general feeling of ugh. I know this will get better, but for now... ugh.

So all of this (particularly the last paragraph) is an excuse -- a sucky one, but an excuse nonetheless for why I haven't been writing much. I'm going to try to do better though. At least, I say that now. By next week, who knows?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rejoicing My Daughter (Without Neglecting My Son)

My post about my daughter's naming ceremony (and how my son dealt with it) can be found at or by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Too Many Resolutions

So the Web site Kveller recently sent out a tweet looking for Rosh Hashannah resolutions. Rosh Hashannah is the Jewish New Year, and as such, they were wondering what resolutions people had thought of making for the new year.

I haven't thought of any.

It's not because I think I'm awesome or anything (if anything, I have the opposite problem). It's more because I never thought of making them before. I always thought that New Year's resolutions were not really a Jewish thing. I mean, aside from the obvious of doing better and being a better person, I didn't think that the typical resolutions (lose weight, exercise, stop some kind of addictive behavior, etc.) were what Jews did. My parents never did it growing up and, as far as I can remember, it was never a topic of conversation at my synagogue.

But now that I've started thinking about it, my problem is that I can't narrow down a list. There are tons of different things that I want to resolve to do over the next year, and with too long of a list, I don't think I'll make much of a dent. But, I guess that leads to my first resolution (and then six more below):

1. Be more positive about what I can do -- Always a tough one for me, but maybe I can try for that this year (which should make the whole list easier)
2. Try to teach my son more Hebrew -- I'm not fluent at all, but I'm trying to get him to learn more (he knows how to count to three, but I think he can do more)
3. Try not to feel too dejected when my wife is the preferred parent
4. Work on my second book -- I'm not expecting to finish it, just get a little further
5. Figure out how to get a better balance of being there for both a needy child and a needy infant
6. Watch my daughter sleep more -- She's still a baby, and although I do this a lot, I feel like I can do it more :)
7. Balance my teaching job, tech responsibilities, after school Hebrew School teaching, tech teaching outside of my school, my relationship with my wife, and my relationship with my kids -- Women aren't the only ones who should be able to have it all!

So there's my top 7 Rosh Hashannah Resolutions. May it be a happy and sweet year for all!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Playground Math

So J loves going to the playground.

Wait, let me rephrase.

J loves going to ANY playground.

Yeah, he has his favorite playground (fortunately it's the one 1/2 mile from our house that we walk and bike to, so it doesn't cause too many problems), but really, he loves playing at playgrounds. He will spend hours at a playground if allowed to do so. There have, so far, I think been only two times when he has asked to leave a playground -- once when he proceeded to get sick after nearly an hour on the swings, and once when it was well over 90 degrees outside and I foolishly forgot to pack any kind of snack aside from water.

In other words, aside from the occasional dad fails, he wouldn't ever leave if it was up to him.

The problem I have with playgrounds, however, is how far away I should stay from him. How much independence do I give J at the playground. Of course I'm not talking about the swings (which still require me to push him), but for the rest of the playground, what's the right distance? I want to give him his own space and independence while he's there, but at the same time, I want to be an engaged father and not be one of those parents sitting off to the side while their kid is running around and menacing the other kids.

So I think it all comes down to a bit of incredibly complex math which my mother (the retired math teacher and current math tutor) assures me is fun:

The first variable is obviously the number of kids at the playground (we'll call this one K). The more kids there, the closer I have to be to my son. He might be almost 3, but he still lives under what my wife calls the toddler credo (what is mine is mine; what was mine five minutes ago is still mine; what was mine last time I was here is still mine; what I was planning on being mine sometime later is mine forever). While we are, of course, working on sharing, it takes time.

The next variable needs to be the time of day. Or more specifically, how far away nap time is (t for short). Even though he swears that he never gets tired, meltdowns somehow seem to happen closer to 12 than any other time.

Then of course there's the peer pressure factor (variable = PP). If other parents are being very engaged, it encourages me to be engaged too. If they are not, I may hold back a bit. This is not something that I am necessarily proud of, but it's the truth. NOTE -- if other parents are being incredibly disengaged, I will react the opposite way and be even more engaged. That's just me trying to up the peer pressure on them. Don't judge me.

Other variables, briefly, include:

Number of available dump trucks in the sandbox -- DT
Relative height of climbing structure (relative of course to my son) -- H
Velocity of spinning things that may make my son sick (always fluctuating) -- VS
Number of trucks my son is trying to hoard -- HT
Number of trucks my son is trying to take out of the sandbox area and race down the slides -- ST

And there are probably many more...

Of course this all relates to some base distance between myself and my son, which, for argument's sake, is probably somewhere around the sum of his height and the length of my arm. We can call this variable JD.

I really don't know what the equation is, and I'm probably missing some variables, but I guess it is:

((JD - t - PP)/K) + (DT/(HT+ST)) - H - VS.

Even if this IS the right equation (which I kind of doubt), the variables are always changing so quickly, I'm sure to always get it wrong. I think I'll have to keep guessing...

Here's to a fun time on the playgrounds this summer!

J at a playground with me, undoubtedly, either too close or too far away.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Baby's First Shabbat

The blog post about E's first Shabbat (and J's reaction to the whole thing) can be found here or by going to Enjoy!