31 December 2012

The Best of 2012 from Dads that Blog

Among the tens of thousands of parenting blogs only a select few have a title or description that contain the words dad or father.

I recently joined a collective of bloggers who all hold the title of dad. They each bring their own perspective on fatherhood, marriage, and life in general. 

It was suggested that we all submit our best post of the year. This outstanding list of post is what we came up with. Enjoy!

30 December 2012

The Unsung Hero

As a service member, I have received so much love from the civilian population. Countless times I have been stopped while I'm out in public and thanked for my service. It is overwhelming sometimes, especially when this heartfelt thanks comes from children who look up to military personnel. 

The support we get is great, but there is someone who gets left out. They are the true heroes. Without these people the military would be an utter failure. I'm speaking of the military spouse. 

My wife's job is the hardest in the military. 

1. Pay - Nothing
2. Training - Sink or Swim
3. Hours - 24/7
4. Position - Wife, Mom and sometimes Dad, Accountant, Child Counselor and Personal Assistant
5. Stability - Shaky at best

Like so many other military spouses, my wife becomes both parents at a moments notice. They all juggle an erratic schedule. Willingly they pack up their lives in whatever town their spouse is stationed only to move to the next place and start over again. They watch us train, prepare and deploy as they stay back and pray that we all make it back. All the time they are fully aware that some of us will not return, some will be physically different, but all will be wounded in some form or fashion. Throughout it all it is not unusual for these spouses to have full time jobs, cart kids back and forth to extra-curricular activities, and support charities. The job that the men and women who share the title of military spouse accomplish is unbelievable. 

These unsung heroes never ask for praise but I will try my best. To all military spouses out there, especially my queen, THANK YOU!! This country will never understand how important you are to the fight for freedom! 

Can I watch my own children?

This evening my wife went grocery shopping. Normally this event would not warrant mentioning except for one small detail....she went alone.

Four weeks ago my wife had my first daughter. That makes three children in all. Five weeks ago, my wife would go about freely without a care in the world. This time she hesitated, as if I were incapable of watching all three of my kids at once. The fear in her eyes made me second guess myself. Did I know what to do? Could all hell break lose during her trip?

I had to regroup. My normal routine of sitting on the couch listening for noises and screams would not work. 

I gathered everything that I needed to include diapers, pull-ups, juice in sip cups, milk bottles, wipes, and toys. I brought them all into the living room and sat them on the couch. I picked the infant up and......sat down on the couch to listen for loud noises and screams.

29 December 2012

How to be a successful coach for your child's sports team.

Parents everywhere are get a thrill out of watching their children participate in organized sports. The easiest way to get them started is on neighborhood teams at a local recreation center. There's just on problem....the leagues always need coaches. Anyone can be a great coach, especially for the younger age groups if you follow the guidelines below.

1. Learn the rules for your league and plan accordingly. Ensure that you have a league rule book. Do not assume that the league will follow the normal set of rules that you may observe on TV, as a matter of fact, many youth leagues do not keep score.

2. Make sure that you have all equipment that you may need to include extra balls, gloves, cones, whistles, etc... Inform parents of equipment that each player must have, particularly safety gear.

3. Coordinate with the recreation center or league on practice schedule to ensure that the field or court is free for use.

4. Do not let the parents sit on the sidelines. Enlist the help of other parents to assist in helping practices stay focused. The more adults you have on the field the easier it is to keep the attention of the players.

5. Break team into small groups for drills. Use other parents to run drills with smaller groups of players. This keeps the players out of lines waiting for their turn, it keeps them busy and engaged. Youtube has several examples of drills for all major sports.

6. Keep it simple. Do not focus on complex skills within the given sport. Instead focus on the fundamentals while teaching each position to every player. They will have a better overall understanding for the game if they decide to specialize in one position as they progress to other leagues.

7. Devise a rotation for players during games and stick to it. This is crucial to keep the peace among players and parents. Since most recreational leagues are not extremely competitive give all players equal playing time in multiple positions, stick with it even you are afraid that you may lose the game. 

8. Most importantly have fun!

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28 December 2012

A Real Father's New Year's Resolution.

Year after year people resolve to do things that they don't have the will to do. 

Almost all of us try to start the year off right with the intention of doing things that in our hearts we know are not going to get done. For many this includes getting rid of a few pounds or quitting a habit that we may have. While these resolutions have great intentions for you, they rarely ever get done.

I have resolution for all fathers. I resolve that all true fathers take the time out this year to extend their love to the fatherless generation that is being raised in this country today. Reach beyond your own kids and make a difference in the lives of other children.

We have all been informed that it takes a village to raise a child, but how many of us live by that saying? We have an epidemic on our hands and not enough of us are taking the right steps to stop it. Too many dads are abandoning their responsibilities, leaving mothers high and dry with all the responsibility of raising children. We can point fingers and blame these dads for their shortcomings, but it doesn't help. Instead, we can come together as a fraternity of men and be the role model that these children need. All over the country there is a need for more little league coaches, boy scout leaders, male teachers, church and community participants, and the list goes on.... It doesn't take a super hero to help out and be the positive role model that kids need. Some of them have not seen a male in that light and our society has suffered. 

Here's some statistics:
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.  (Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average.  (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average.  (National Principals Association Report)
Mothers are trying their best to raise children on the own and in most cases they are doing an excellent job considering the circumstances. These women don't throw in the towel because it's tough, they keep fighting. It is time that they have someone in their corner. We need to be the father figures for the thousands of children who don't have someone to show them what a real man should be. Men should stand up and be the male role models for the next generation.

So what are we going to do?

RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, I resolve that in 2013 I will do more as a father to help the next generation be successful. Who's with me?!

Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf dies - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times

Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf dies - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times

17 December 2012

The war has not ended.

The holiday season is so important to us all.

Last Christmas was an unusual one for me, because I spent it in Afghanistan. It was difficult because men that I loved were wounded and/or died from just before Thanksgiving. Those events have forever changed my appreciation for what this time of year is all about. I will forever be indebted to these men. They sacrificed there limbs, their health, and for two of them, their lives for our freedom. I miss them....

It isn't over yet.

There are still thousands of our military personnel in Afghanistan. I know from experience that this season is not easy for them. The joy that we all experience from being around family for the holidays is not easy to replace. Despite it all they will continue with the mission and enjoy the company of their brothers in arms.

So what can we do?

We must continue to support the troops. Just because the media has forgotten about the war doesn't mean we have to. Send a post card, a care package or a donation. They would really appreciate it.

Where can I help?

15 December 2012

The nation stops to mourn....and wonder why?

The events in Newtown, Connecticut have touched the hearts of every parent in America, leaving us all wondering why.

http://www.gaynycdad.com/2013/01/boys-guns.htmlEvery day parents send their kids to school with the expectation that their day will be filled with reading, writing, math, science etc... No one sends their child to school thinking that the day will be one that  is filled with the sound of gunshots ringing, the sight of classmates dying, and the possibility of being murdered by a madman with an arsenal of weaponry. Faculty became the sole line of defense for elementary students instead the educators that they are. The event has government officials scrambling to restore a community and reassure the public.

Immediately the media has turned this latest incident of domestic terrorism into another political debate. The war on gun control is now at the forefront of discussion across the country. In typical fashion society has accepted the opinions of those who give us the "news" and pointed the finger at the government. I think it is mistake to look at things from such a narrow perspective.

Should gun ownership and dealership be regulated? Yes. Is it the source of the problem? No.

Individuals that commit these type of crimes are going to continue the violence regardless of whether guns are readily available, Timothy McVeigh taught us that. We must get to the root of the problem, find out why these killings are happening more frequently.

Three things jump out when you begin to analyze several of the different attacks that have occurred recently, all of which point back to society itself. First, we ignore the warning signs by letting those who have been diagnosed with mental illness continue to be untreated. Second, our society has coddled our children to the point that they cannot accept rejection. Lastly, it has become the norm for men to grow up with out positive male role models in their life. When are we going to take a step back and try and fix ourselves?

What are your thoughts?

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12 December 2012

Who's shoes to fill....

From birth we strive to be the example we are shown. We walk because that's what we see our parents do. We talk with the same diction and accent that our parents use. We develop interest in the same hobbies and music that they do. We even try on their shoes, walk around the house, and mimic behaviors that we see.

The more we grow, the more complex our emulation of our role models becomes. It begins to encompass morality, spirituality, and overall concept of life. A patient or giving parent doesn't have to explain to their kids how to be patient or giving, they already know. On the other hand, a parent that is abusive has already taught their children to be an abuser. All people try to "fill" the shoes of their role models by reaching the same status in society, community, and family.

So the question is, what type of shoes are your children try to fill? Are they using you as their role models or as an example of what not to be?

10 December 2012

CBS Evening News - On the Road: Bringing dad home for Christmas

Can you give daddy some clothes too?

My week old daughter is the apple of my eye. Like any other father, I would spend my last to provide for her. Despite these feelings, I have not purchased one clothing item for her. Instead, she has been showered with items from family and friends. They have just been handing us stuff without us asking, as if Christmas has come early. She has more shirts, socks, and pants than I do. Her wardrobe could stretch through weeks of social interactions with ease.

I couldn't be happier for these gifts, they save me money. I just have one question, can daddy get some clothes too? My wardrobe is minuscule in comparison. I struggle to leave home in what one might call "fashionable" attire, meanwhile this little girl who is unaware of her surroundings is given more than enough clothing to put on her own runway show. I would like to look good too.

All I ask is that someone, anyone, help me out.

A dad in need of jeans.

Grandma, who are you?

My mom is in town for a few weeks to visit the kids for the holidays. I'm happy to have her but she is hardly recognizable.
I grew up with a lady who gave evil looks if I got out of line. Fear was automatic when she came in the room. We knew not to act out because she didn't hesitate to administer punishment of the physical manner.
The lady who is visiting my kids is someone completely different from my mom. She laughs when the kids act out. They talk back to her she smiles. They throw a temper tantrum she picks them up and soothes them. Who is she? Why does she give them so much slack? Where did the evil looks go?
Meanwhile I'm stuck being the mean guy disciplining her "precious grandchildren".
Grandparents have all the fun...

08 December 2012

Help! My kids won't let me sleep!

Every night there is a battle of wits in my house.  In one corner you have an overworked dad who knows that he has to get up before the break of day to conduct PT. In the other is a tag team consisting of a toddler and an infant who seem to wait for the exact moment when relaxation has finally set in to create chaos. So what do I do to survive? I'll tell you....

1. Keep the infant close. A bassinet (or something similar) is a must. So many parents rush to try to get there kids into a crib all the way down the hall, only to be frustrated with the frequent trips throughout the night.
2. Let them eat their dinner! Fighting a battle at the table will help you win the battle of shut-eye. Don't let your children leave the table without eating a substantial amount of the food you have prepared. A full belly helps anyone sleep.
3. Have a bottle and diapers on hand before you go to sleep. Go ahead and prep for the night. Keep your supply close to you.
4. In the event that your sleep is interrupted, handle everything at once. If they want a drink, change the diaper afterwards. If they need a change, throw in a nightcap. It may save you from getting up again.
5. If you have multiple children try to get them on the same schedule by forcing all of them up at once.

You won't eliminate your headaches but you might keep them at a minimum!

07 December 2012

The Pregnant Dad

We all know that pregnancy is a joyous time for the family and from an outsiders perspective the mother is the only one who suffers. These 9 months can also be a time filled with both physical and emotional symptoms that affect dads. If you add the additional stresses of a military occupation, a time that should be filled with happiness can quickly become overwhelming.

Here are some things to be aware of.
1. Anxiety - The most common of all symptoms among dads.
Let's face it, the idea of a child arriving that is your responsibility to provide for can be nerve racking. Father's tend to worry about everything, but express their concerns to no one. Instead of holding it all in ask one of your friends how they make it work, you'd be surprised at what other father's know, and how often they feel the same way you do....
2. Nausea - A product of sudden change in emotion and physical intake.
Although the mother can attribute "morning" sickness to hormones, father's who have this symptom usually attribute it to the anxiety and stress associated with the pregnancy. This can also be caused by the change in diet that may occur from stress and the cravings of your partner who may force you to eat things that are outside of your norm. Try to stay active and keep the drinking at a minimum.
3. Mood Swings - Less sleep and more stress.
Stress causes different people to react different ways. If you find yourself staying up much later than normal contemplating what to do with a new child, you may find that during the day you are on pins a needles. Try to relax and talk with your partner about how you feel it may help you sleep, which in turn will keep her from dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide.
4. Change in Sexual Appetite - Yeah, that's right, you may not be your normal sex craved self.
Every man thinks that he is a sexual god and you very well may be when everything is running it's normal course. Expecting a child is not an everyday occurrence and that distraction can cause a lack of focus on the prize at hand. Don't worry, your partner won't mind as she will have the same issues (except for the 2nd trimester which can leave your loins dry from overuse).
5. Weight Gain - Her belly isn't the only one that may get bigger.
On average fathers gain 14-15 lbs during a pregnancy. Once again stress is the main culprit compounded by the "stress hormone" cortisol. Cortisol regulates blood sugar and insulin levels and is secreted at higher levels at times when you are stressed. Keep the snacks healthy and stay in the gym to avoid becoming twins with the mother to be.

05 December 2012

Another addition to the family....

A military hospital lets me down again.

After a 24 hour roller coaster that ends with the me in awe of how beautiful my new baby girl is, it is all brought to a screeching halt when the records personnel brings the birth paperwork into the room. I'm instructed to take it to the state to receive an official birth certificate. Seems simple enough right? Well it is, but as soon as look at the "birth certificate" I'm shocked. It's a plain piece of paper with a sticker on it that is supposed to be a seal. Now I'm aware that official birth certificates take a while but what I can't understand is why I'm required send this very unofficial document to the state government to apply for the real one. This is my third child, and I have never had to do this before. The only thing I have ever been required to do is enroll my children in DEERS by updating the DD1172 and have them added to TRICARE. Oh well, we all the military has a way of teaching you to do things yourself...otherwise you end up with a child without a social, birth certificate, or citizenship.