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?