Monday, May 2, 2011

Daddy's no Mommy!

I've been contemplating the differences between Mom's and Dad's now that I'm a WAHD, and I've gained a greater perspective of the differences.  In recent years one of the debates has been who is best when raising children Mom or Dad... this question isn't going to be answered here. My own personal belief is that the best parent is a loving parent, Mom or Dad.

I'm a contractor by profession, and in my field I'm able to work from home during the day and work on projects at night.  Due to my schedule I spend a lot of my time with my 22 month old daughter Marissa, and I've come to notice how different my parenting skills are compared to my wife's.  I have to say that by nature my wife Marla is far more patient (measured in light years) than I am, or anyone I've ever know.  I always tell my wife that she is going to out live me because patient and laid back attitude.

People that know me consider me to be a 'clean freak', and I say "I'm not a clean freak, I'm just clean conscience".  This "personality trait" has a direct affect on the way that I parent.  Example; my wife can spend time with Marissa, not paying any attention to the mound of toys strewn about like a bomb went off, or any mess made for that matter.  When I spend time with my daughter the experience though enjoyable; is quite different, and cleaner by far.  Our daughter flows seamlessly from one parenting style to the other... she knows when she's in 'Rome', and when she's not.

You don't have to be a genius to know that the next difference is based on our physical make-up as a man and woman.  I spend 80 % my time wrestling, chasing, and tickling my daughter, we play hard and we are usually exhausted when we are done (a bonus at nap time).  My wife does not play physically in any form or fashion with our daughter; as a matter of fact most of their time is spent reading books and playing with stuffed animals... definitely the softer side of play.

When it comes to non-injury "Boo Boo's" we are similar in our initial response... we wait to see how Marissa responds to the pain... and I must say "she is a tough cookie".  When Marissa does cry I wish that I could conjure up some of mommy's loving tenderness, but it always seems to come out as "your okay, don't cry, daddy will get the duct-tape".  The interesting thing is she seems to get injured more when she is with her mom, the "laid back" nature doesn't always equal safety.

Differences aside, the beauty of the "Mother Father dynamic" is that you receive a wonderful balance that can make for well rounded child.

Enjoy the differences between you, and feel free to share your stories here.

Tech Babys

Today I was watching my daughter play with my wife's phone; and realized that she's mastered our smart phones, iPad, iPods, and iMac at the ripe old age of 23 months.  I started thinking about how the world has changed since I was a child to now... what a chilling thought.  Today we can get a hold of anyone at any time, located almost anywhere on the planet and know exactly where they are with a push of a button. I never imagined that I would have children that would learn to use a complex computers before they would learn to tie their shoes.

When I was a child if you couldn't reach your friend on the phone, you would simply call back in an hour or so, not try every phone number and text address you have on your phone.  The amazing thing is that children's capacity to learn is immense, but is what they are learning that good for them... a question for another post.

I often think back to the time when I didn't feel cut off from the world if I left the house without my cell phone, or the joy of seeing red illuminated number of all the messages on our enormous answering machine (all technology was big in the 70's).

I'm not looking forward to is my daughters involvement with text "lingo".  It drives me crazy when I see my nieces typing in shortened "text" lingo when they are using a full keyboard.  When I see LOL, LMAO, BRB, or  OMG used all the time I think WTF!  Maybe the people at FB and Twitter knew what they where doing when they limited the characters you can use in a text, because when it comes right down to it there is little substance in a lot of text's and tweets.

The upside to the technology is that it has become more 'mobile'  than ever.  We can take the cool educational games on our iPad just about everywhere to keep our daughter entertained.  She has also becomes comfortable  with computers at an early age.

The down side is that we have become so much more 'impersonal' than any time in recent history.  It seems we text at times because we don't want to take the time to have a "real" conversation... I wish my mom would text at times.  I also find that a lot of people say things in texts they would never say directly to a person, which leads me to believe that it probably shouldn't be said if that is the case.

I love that my daughter gets the most pleasure out of direct contact with her mom and I, and would still prefer to play at the beach or park more than texting friends from the couch, for now anyway.  I love to see the joy my daughter gets from learning new things; and the wonder of exploring, now if I can just teach her how to balance it all?

My wife's aunt sent me an email once that said "don't let your baby's grow up to be jpegs" because we rarely printed out any of the hundreds of pictures we have stored on our computer, I guess the same should be said about exposing our children to too much technology, too fast... I don't know how that jingle would go?

It all comes down to being smart about how and to what extent we allow our children access to technology, and I definitely don't want it to have the "dummy down" affect on my kids.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Baby Talk

The title of this post probably elicits an image of a Hallmark or Johnson&Johnson commercial: the new mother nose to nose with her baby, making soft cooing sounds, in a language only a mother and child understand... close but not exactly what I mean. No, I'm talking about the way we take the magic of rudimentary communication with our 'toddlers' for granted every day before they learn to speak.

Before I had a child of my own, I would contemplate how amazing it was that my Weimaraner (dog) 'CoCo' had learned a number of commands in English, yet it was a shot in the dark figuring out what her barks and actions meant past her nudging her food bowl to let me know she's hungry. Who is the smart one us or dogs; dogs understands some English and we humans don't understand any "dog talk", if you watch the TV show COPS the jury could still be out on that one, but I digress.

My daughter is 21 months old and is proficient with the typical words used by children her age, but the real magic is how many things she can get her Mom and I to do without being able to verbalize what she wants. I don't have any boys, but girls can be pretty "sassy" at this age. Not to worry though, I hear they grow out of it in their twenties... I hope? If the door isn't locked on my office while I'm working my daughter will march in, take me by the hand and lead me like a 'child' to what ever suits her fancy at that moment, and "no" is not an option to her. Who knew that the simple act of pointing could be so affective? If only I could go into a meeting with clients and 'point' to a contract and then magically we were on the same page, and I leave with signed documents (I can dream).

My daughter let me know it was time to potty train her by going to her diaper bag and bringing me her changing pad and wipes when she wanted her diaper changed, if that doesn't say "keep up with the program Daddy" I don't know what does. When sign language isn't working, and she grows tired of my perplexed look she has been known to slide a bar stool around the kitchen and climb up to get what she wants...and I thought my dog CoCo was smart.

Our children are receiving and processing an alarming amount of information the entire time they are awake (heavens knows what they are learning while they sleep), if we are aware of it or not. If you say or do it in view of your children it's just a matter of time before you will see them doing it. The sad thing is that when you as parents grow to a ripe old age and lose your capacity to speak, pretty much trading places with where your kids are at this age, they won't have a clue as to what you are trying to say. Oh well, enjoy it while it last because there will be no misunderstanding when my daughter becomes a teenager and "rolls" me for money to go to the mall.

So next time your toddler gets you to do something non verbally take the time to marvel in their 'genius' to get their point across without speaking.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Find Your Release

Between raising our kids (which as we all know is a full-time job), work, and endless household things, it is easy to forget that we need time for ourselves.  Any parent worth their salt will tell you that being a "parent" means sacrifices (a lot of sacrifices), but we often forget to change gears from the 'caretaker' to a person that takes care of themselves.

Before I had children of my own I use to see the tot-lot "Mommy" groups, mothers out walking their kids together and mothers out interacting with one another.  What I came to realize is that I wasn't seeing the real "magic" of these mothers interacting with each other to help keep their "sanity".

It is so important as parents that we find a "release" that lets us to blow off steam, and stay in that "well balanced realm" of parenting.  If you don't have something to do that brings you back to "center" you will be robbing yourself, and everyone around you of a "sane person".  I know this can be a sensitive subject because there is a level of guilt that is associated with doing things for ourselves... let it go.  We aren't good to anyone if we can't as "parents" find a way to balance our personal, and mental health within our everyday lives.

One of my favorite releases is playing basketball on the weekend with a group of friends that have played together for many years (typical male stuff) .  Coming from an athletic background basketball rejuvenates me for the entire week to come (most of the week anyway).  The thought of playing basketball with a group of sweaty, and at times angry men may not be your "cup of tea", but it is important that you find "something" that you enjoy.  My wife Marla (bless her heart) is more than happy to send me off early in the morning Saturday and Sunday to get my 'fix', because she knows all too well what it's like when I don't get to play... it's hard to believe but it's not a pretty picture.

How do you find that "thing" you ask, find parents that have walking groups and join in.  Get involved in the as I like to call them "tot-lot forums" at your local tot-lot.  Find a quiet place and read.  Spend some quality time at the mall.  Whatever you wind up doing, the time you spend recharging you mental batteries is invaluable to those around you... namely your kids!  My wife loves listening to other peoples "controversy" because she says that she doesn't have any of her own, this  is the beauty of group interaction!  It is comical listening to her rehash what she's heard... interesting stories is all I will say about that.  Find the thing that can be your little slice of heaven, so you can be at your best for the ones you love.  In the immortal words of my father-in-law use the "K.I.S.S." method, simply translated... Keep It Simple Silly!

Find Your Release, and you will be on your way to mental and physical good health!

Feel free to share your positive "Release" stories.

Love & Peace!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's the Little Things...

It's easy to get caught up in the dizzying affects of our busy day to day lives, but it's important to take a step back and take notice of the little things that can bring a smile to your face.  If you take a second to notice you will see that your little ones give you reason to smile all day long, every day.
My daughter Marissa does not like to go to sleep, and when I say she doesn't like it I mean she would rather have all her baby teeth pulled with no Novocain.  Ok, that might be a little bit of an embellishment, but you get the point.  She will put on her best crying act, scream and yell (she could give Mariah Carey a run for her money when hitting the high notes), and yet a lot of the time we will still find ourselves laughing at something she does to get out of going to sleep.  There are many things that your children can do to give you that deep down warm feeling of being a parent, and in a manner that only your children can provide.  One things that touches my heart every day is that big smile that you know is reserved for you... and only you.  The first time your child is able to say "Daddy", or "Mommy"... priceless!  The warm greeting you get when you return home, or the waves from the window when you leave for work make for golden memories you will cherish later.

Time is "fleeting", and it seems that our children become young adults in an 'blink of an eye', so enjoy these precious moments now because you will never get them back.

Share your "Precious Moments" with us.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Changing Diapers

This probably sounds like the last thing you want to do when dealing with your new baby, but this simple act can form a lasting and strong relationship with your child. You will find that your newborns stool will not smell as bad if your baby is breast fed, but if your baby is on formula prepare yourself for a unique olfactory experience. Your baby's body can tell the difference, and the difference can be overwhelming (as they say "mothers milk is best). Once you get past the smell the reward is the bond you are forming with your baby...nothing says love like a clean diaper. We've all seen the clips on AFV (Americas Funniest Videos), or YouTube of the father dressed like he's dealing with toxic waste, but if you work through it you won't give it a second thought later. The more you change the diapers the more proficient you will become at it, and you will see that you will have that diaper off and on in no time flat.

You will find that in the beginning speed is the key. If you have a boy or girl you will need to gain the talent of a NASCAR pit crew to get the diaper on and off without getting sprayed by the occasional release off urine that seems to come from nowhere, and with the accuracy of a military sniper. Not to worry though, if you are going to get urinated on who better than a newborn that only drinks breast milk or formula.

We do many things in our day to day life that make us 'get down an dirty' (getting greased up working on cars, working in our yard, picking up after our pets, cleaning a bathroom), when compared to those things, changing a diaper is a breeze! Enjoy these things now, because that sweet little baby will be a teenager before you know it and you will be lucky if you sit down to eat dinner together later.

Stay tuned for my future post that will help you choose the right diaper for your 'little bundle of joy'.

Keep the faith!

Brian Curtis

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Welcome to Daddy & Me, a fathers guide to raising children. My mission with this Blog is to educate father's (mothers are welcome too), and to share practical information to help raise children in today's busy world. I will share the things I have learned, and help you find the information that will help you be the best parent you can be. I don't profess to know everything, but I have found things that work, and may work for you.

I also want to help you get through the mind boggling process of choosing everything from diapers, carriers, strollers, food, development, and anything else you can think of to make your job easier.

I hope to entertain you as well as educate you during our evolution. Though not everything in the parenting world is "fun & games", I hope to show that there are moments of joy to be had throughout the day every day.

Feel free to share your positive experiences, or ask questions. I will do my best to provide the answers you need, as we "Go, and Grow" together.

Being a parent can be one of life's most rewarding adventures, and as you navigate through the world of raising your children hopefully you will find that you have developed into a better parent along the way.

Yours truly,

Brian Curtis