Friday, April 30, 2010

Parasites-Part One in a Lecture Series

Elle has a great love for books. Especially books that will teach her how things work. One great activity that Elle shares with her grandmother is trips to the library. On one of their most recent outing Elle came back with a book about parasites. She was so enthused by the subject she wanted to teach mom and dad all about them. Elle stood in front of the fireplace with one hand on her hip the other hand holding her magic wand as a pointer. Before she began her lesson she asked. "Mom, Dad, are you paying attention. Mom please take notes, ok."

"Parasites can be in your body but, they can be hard to see because they are so small. You can hardly see them. They are little bugs that do stuff in your body. So they can be very tiny and you can only see them with a microscope. Germs are also very tiny too. But, the good germs that protect your body get them out of your body."

As she was giving her lesson her eyes were closed tightly in order to concentrate. It was a great lesson and I look forward to more in her future lecture series. Under strict instruction she had her mom illustrate different parasites and germs. They are below.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This is our seven year old goldendoodle Bentley. Sleeping twenty hours a day is his favorite thing to do. Elle's grandfather will ask, "Is he okay does he have worms?" Nope that's just what he does like a champ.

Elle decided to make a trophy and this is it.

Elle's story behind the photo. "One dino's legs were tired so the other one gave him some help."

This one of Elle's favorite things, books.

Dad Blogs Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Storytime (The Three Little Pigs, as told by Elle.)

This morning, we were enjoying some lazy family time when Elle decided to regale us with a story. I present to you "The Three Little Pigs" as retold by Elle.

Once upon a time there were three little pigs. Their names were Larry, Curly, and Moe. One day, they decided it was time to go live in their own houses, so they said goodbye to their mama. Moe went off and decided to build his house out of straw. He built it on a hill top. Because of the view. Then a big bad wolf came along, blew his house down, and gobbled Moe up.

Then Curly decided to build her house out of sticks. She built her house out of sticks and she built it by the lake because the lake was beautiful and she could swim and fish all day. (I don't know where Larry built his house, but that's not important.)

So, Curly was swimming in the lake when a big, bad, nasty wolf came along. He huffed and puffed and blew Curly's house down, but Curly was in the lake so it was ok. The wolf had a tummy ache from eating Moe, though, and he got really sick. Then Curly shooed the wolf away from her house and he ran and ran and ran. He ran across a bridge (because there was a bridge over the lake where Curly lived), and he fell off the bridge. He landed head-first on a big lily pad, but he didn't mind because the lily pad was so beautiful. But then the lily pad began to sink and the wolf went down, down, down all the way to the bottom of the sea. Then he was gobbled up by a shark.

Curly just kept swimming and I don't know what Larry did. But that doesn't matter. The end.

Friday, April 23, 2010

To My Beautiful & Wonderful Wife. Happy Birthday!

I started this blog for two reasons. One was to just catch the moments I was afraid would slip through the cracks. The second, was for my wife when she had to travel for work we were just a click away. Since Elle has come into our lives her birthday is the main event. I just wanted to take this moment to express my gratitude and love for my wife on her birthday. It's very clear that I don't mention her by name that is out of respect for her job. But, that does not take away from how important she is to me and Elle.
 My wife truly has a quite strength that shows in her commitment to her family. She wakes up three times a week a little after four a.m. to start her commute and comes home around six p.m. always with a smile and hug for her husband and child. After those long days I know she is tired but she always will read a few chapters to Elle before she goes to sleep. When she has free time it doesn't matter what we may do as long as we are together. I often times go through a cycle where I'm down about not bring in any money or not getting any responses from a week full of sending out resumes. She is always there to be a supportive and encouraging. She loved when I was fifty pounds heavier. Also when I bought Birkenstocks one summer and started watching Battlestar Galatica. Through my families side of drama about marrying a women I love who happened not be the same race or religion, she loved me. We have that non-verbal way of being able to read each other. Which comes in handy when you have a child that will try to play one parent off another. She has a lovely way of finding humor in situations. I have noticed over the years she has adopted a cute habit of asking questions in my spanish way. We flow together as a body of water. For the better father, husband and man that she has made me I am forever grateful. Of the four tattoo's I have dedicated to her the one that sums up my feelings the most is one that simply says "More Than Anything" with our anniversary date.


A short birthday message from Elle to Mom.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Wall

We have seem to run into a wall with Elle. This is our first go around as parents. We dealt with the terriable twos and made it through. The last month we have gotten a revist from the type of defiance and attitude we saw at two. This go around has been a vastly more trying because she is more advanced. Also, having seen the light at the end of the tunnel and then having a return trip to the tunnel has been discouraging. We don't have a point of reference or friends who have a child the same age. I know both my wife and I are feeling mentally drained. For my wife coming home from a thirteen hour day and then having a face off with Elle is not appling. We look forward to the weekends. It's our time as a family to spend together and reconnect after the busyness of the week. As the stay at home parent I feel as if I'm failing somewhere. I want my wife to be able to come home to peace. I keep on hoping that today is the day it will turn around. For whatever reason that is yet to be. I know Elle has a smaller world view. We haven't been able to get here just to stop and realize it's not just about her. We appriciate her independence her mastery of vocabulary. I guess it can go both ways. We have reached the wall. I don't know if we'll go over, around or it will come down on it's own.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What we're cooking.

Since becoming a husband and then a father my cooking skills have gotten better. One dish in particular that I have worked on and tweaked is Smothered Chicken. I remember the recipe from my mother. I don't have a relationship with my side of the family So, I can't pick my mother's brain for the recipe. That subject will reserved for another time. I was able to find a cook book called "Puerto Rican Cookery" by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli which had the recipe. This above mentioned title was published in the early seventies and it doesn't translate well to practical use but, it works for the ideas not the execution.
This has been one dish that Elle has constantly loved. It has a good number of ingredients. I can get the prep done in thirty minutes and just let it cook for about two hours. It's a great one pot, low and slow dish that holds together nicely for leftovers. We usually serve it over rice but, have also have it by itself. Elle and I tried to make a video of us cooking Smothered Chicken but, half my face was cut of in the video and it was twenty minutes long. So maybe next time I'll work on my movie making skills. Below is a list of the ingredients and directions to the best of my ability.

Two packages of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 yellow or white onions diced
2 bell peppers diced
Olive Oil, 3 to 4 Tablespoon
1 link of chorizo (optional) diced
3 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
2 fire roasted peppers diced (optional)
Olives with pimientos
White Wine Vinegar, 3 Tablespoon
Cooking Sherry, 1/4 Cup
Salt & Pepper
Another optional ingredient is peeled diced potatoes and 12 garlic cloves. Both of those I have been leaving out. The potatoes tend to  make the dish a little to heavy and Elle hasn't been a big fan of garlic. There is enough flavor that the garlic isn't missed at all.

Start with olive oil in a heavy bottom pot that will get a nice even heat. (Medium Low Heat)
Add the diced onions, get them to a state where they are translucent and soft.
Add the diced peppers and chorizo, the chorizo will lend flavor and the fat will break down with the heat.
At intervals of about two minutes give a quick stir.
When the peppers are soft and the chorizo has broken day the other ingredients can be added.
Salt & Pepper both sides of the chicken thigh and place them in the pot.
Now add the tomatoes, Vinegar, Sherry, Caper, Olives and fire roasted peppers.
Turn up the heat, give a quick stir and push the chicken down to the bottom.
You want to achieve a quick boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer which will go on for about an hour and a half to two hours.
Stir occasionally, once the chicken breaks easily with the spoon you can start tasting.
The longer the Smothered Chicken goes the better it seems to taste. With this dish you can make your own and it's Elle approved.
Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Show Me Your Tweets.

I have to first and foremost give proper credit to James(SeattleDad). He did a post called Recycled Humor where he shared his humorous Tweets that might have flown under the radar. I have been in a rut when it comes to posting the past two weeks. So you can say I'm phoning this one in. Below are some of the gems via Twitter.

My daughter's "discouraged" that her mother doesn't think she's funny. I told her she just has to work on her timing.

A great action film which often goes unnoticed is Road House. It's a very simple film but it works. Mullets + Spin Kicks = Awesome

Started watching BSG. My wife said,"so I see you started watching Battlestar Galatica". Followed by a strange you might be a geek look.

3yr daughter told my wife, "nothing to worry about that was a quiet fart,you can't hear because it was quiet but, you can smell it".

My wife gets worried about how she looks when we go to the supermarket. Then we get there and she wonders why she was even worried at all.

My 3yr old daughter farted and said, "Whoa that was a ridicules, disgusting fart."

I give my daughter wicked ugly pony tails. Just a skill I will most likely never master.

3yr daughter's system to grade poops. Small poops are Maggie sized(our small dog),Med are Bentley(the bigger Dog) and XLs are Dino sized.

My daughter calls farts "the smelly surprise".

My wife asked our kid to not eat so fast. She states "I just don't like following rules". That's cute at three won't be cute at thirteen.

I asked my daughter to clean up. She said," I can't right now, I have to relax for a little while, maybe you can take care of it".

3yr old logic: "If your going to get mad at me then I'm going to get mad at you."

3yr olds response to picking up her toys slowly, "cleaning up just waste so much time".

Daughter's bonus statement: "I'm really good at getting smart with you guys(mom&dad)."

I asked my daughter to not throw her book on the floor. Her response,"I'll do what I do and you do what you do." She will be a fun teenager.

Daughter-"I would like a PB&J for lunch, but the jelly is my favorite." Me-"Would you like just jelly." "No, I'm just letting you know."

Yeah, I vacuum the house. But, I do it with a wet/dry vac. No fancy pants Dyson in this house.

Daugthers response to why she has selective listening, "I'm a kid and that's what kids do."

My kid's reaction to a pic of Justin Bieber: "That boy's hair looks like it's going to eat his face."

My car needs a secondary horn.Maybe a boo instead of a honk.The boo would be less abrasive but, direct enough for drivers that deserve it.

It's always odd when I drop my kid off at school and a random kid comes up to me and calls me dad. All I can say is "No".

I don't see dead people but, I do see at least one Pontiac Aztec a day. Almost the same difference.

3yr old's catch phrase for the week. "I just try to get out one day at a time."

Daughter:"I promised my teacher I would save my poops till I got home b/c they are super smelly and pooping at school concerns me."

3yr old Daughter:"I want to stay up all night drinking apple juice and listening to music. Oh, please."

3yr olds phrase of the day: "I'm just done." Ex. "I'm just done with school, I rather stay home with you."After school."I had a great day"

Great commercial intro "What happeans when you begin every argument with a fist in the other guys face. You end up in JAIL. Premieres next."

My kids plan: "Why don't you guys put a small bed in your room that I can sleep on. Now you don't have to send me back to my room to sleep."

Daughter:"Hey look at my eyes, no bags. That means I'm not sleepy, so I'm not going to bed. I need to stay up and get bags under my eyes."

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Smuggler.

For a little over a month Elle has been going to school three days out of the week. So far she has been having a great time. I have noticed one behavior that has surfaced that is a little concerning to me. I subscribe to the saying that first time is a mistake, second time habit and the third time you got a problem.

The Mistake

One afternoon when I picked up Elle she was beyond excited because she had a surprise. "Daddy, Daddy, I'm so excited to see you. I had such a great day at school and I have a surprise for you. It's in my pocket. I'll show it to you when we get home."
As soon as we get home and she is out of the car, Elle reaches into her pocket and pulls out two marbles.
"See, Daddy, I have two marbles that I got from school."
The first thought that came into my head was “isn’t a three year old playing with marbles a choking hazard”. Then I thought maybe she doesn't realize that she can't bring certain things home from school.
"Elle, why did you bring the marbles home with you?"
"Well, I just forgot they were in my pocket."
"You have to bring them back to school tomorrow because they belong to the school, ok."
"Dad, I just thought it was ok for me to bring the marbles home."
"Tomorrow you'll bring them back to school. Unless the teacher tells you can bring something home, it stays at school."
I thought with that the matter was closed. Kid made a mistake.

The Habit

I think this may have been the second or third week when the habit showed up. "Dad, I had a great day at school and I have a surprise in my pocket, but I can't show you 'till we get outside."
"Elle, did you bring marbles home from school again?"
"Maybe, but just wait 'till we get outside and I'll show you this special surprise I have."
The whole time Elle had her hands buried in her pocket, closely guarding this precious surprise. We made our way out of school and I set her down in front of the car. As soon as her feet touched the ground, her hands flew out of her pockets.
"Look at this, Dad, I have two beautiful marbles that I got from school. Aren't they great?"
"Elle, I do agree they are beautiful marbles. But, here come the part you don't want to hear but you have to listen to: the marbles belong to the school. You have to bring them back and you can't take any marbles home from school."
"But, Dad, I just wanted to borrow them. I thought they were so great and beautiful that you would want to see them and I could show Mommy and she would think they are great."
"Elle, this is what you are going to do: you have to bring them back and no more borrowing or taking marbles from your school."
"Ok, Dad."

The Problem

Yesterday the problem came for a visit. "Hi, Dad. School was great! I missed you. I have a present for you and Mommy. I'll show you went we get home."
"Hey, Elle, why don't you show me what it is now."
"Ok. You see? I have two rings with fantastic gems on them. What you think of my present? It's great."
"Elle, where did you get these great fantastic gem rings?"
"I got them from the present store. I bought them."
"Did your teacher give them to you or did you get them yourself?"
"I got them by myself from the present store."
"Elle, do these rings belong to something at your school?"
"Yes, they belong to a doll."
"Elle, you can't take anything from school home. It belongs to the school and it's there for everyone to use."
"Dad, I just like smuggling things."
In that moment I get images of the movie Blow and my kid flying in a load of freshly smuggled goods, because she likes it.
"Elle, no more taking, borrowing or smuggling items from school. Because you can get in trouble. The school can call us and say ‘Elle can't come back to school because she keeps on smuggling things out of school.’"
"But, Dad, I just like it."
"Elle, I want you to explain this to Mommy when we pick her up from the train station."
When we got home, Elle did not want to explain her exploits to her mother at first. Once bedtime came around her silence on the matter ended and she proudly professed her smuggling habit to her mother.
I looked at my wife and we had one of those silent moments where we were both thinking the same thing. We may have a problem. Maybe I'll just have to dress her in items without pockets to help curb the smuggling.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's nice to be able to pick-up my Daughter.

Back in January I had two umbilical hernias repaired. How exactly does one get not 1, but 2 hernias? Well, we have a three level brick town house built in the 1860's. We wanted a home that we could make our own in the city. Luckily we found everything we wanted and back in 2005 we moved and began the never ending journey of home renovation. We started at a break neck speed until 2007 when Elle was born. In the summer of '09 we started up again.

The latest project was to convert an old bathroom into a master bedroom. The bathroom sits at the back of the house with a secondary staircase leading to it. The layout was strange to say the least. The large room was split in half with a horse hair plaster wall acting as the divider. To one side a cast iron tub with a toilet and double sink. The other side of the wall was a large walk-in closet. We decided to tackle the major chunk of the demo when Elle was with her grandparents for a long weekend. A word of caution to other do-it-yourselfers: we learned the hard way that when old plaster is broken up the dust gets everywhere no matter how careful you are. Anyway, I'm pretty sure this is where I sustained the first of two hernias. I was carrying large pieces of plaster wall downstairs and outside. I was also foolishly filling 32-gallon trash cans with the smaller bits of plaster and carrying those outside. When renovating, as in life, I often fall victim to blind “male pride”. I have to just muscle through those moments even when I shouldn't. But, coming out of a long, dirty, labor intensive weekend we had the room demoed.

My wife and I were both beyond sore. Soon after I noticed I had a new friend. Just above my belly button was a protrusion the shape of a thumb poking through my stomach. Once I saw and felt it I knew what it was. The hernia really didn't bother me, so I continued on with daily life. I guess I just got used to it. Then in December a few days before Christmas I scored another hernia right next to my friend. I remember picking up Elle and immediately feeling a sharp pain. This bad boy hurt and made the first one seem like a bruise. Now I couldn't put off getting them fixed any longer.

 I visited the doctor and told him I was pretty sure I had two umbilical hernias. He took one look and quickly agreed. So, surgery was set for mid-January. Now, I have never had surgery in my life. I was more worried about the recovery than the actually surgery. My wife, a worrier by nature, was scared by the whole process. We both prepared Elle for what was going to take place. She was very concerned that I would not be able to play with her or carry her. My wife made a band-aid shaped sign for me to wear as a visual reminder for Elle to take it easy on me. When it was time for my wife to head back to work, I was worried about being home alone with Elle. What if we ran into an emergency moments, like when Elle suddenly proclaims “I have to go poop and it’s coming out now, hurry!” and I have to rush her upstairs to try to make it to the bathroom. With luck and the help, we made it through with surprisingly few disasters. It took about six weeks before I could pick up anything more than fifteen pounds. Which meant I still couldn't pick up my daughter. Elle and my wife took great care of me. Elle would often ask, "Daddy does your tummy feel better? Can I see it?" I would reply, "Not yet, but it's getting better, and yes, you can see it just don't touch". She would take a look and say, "boy, that doesn't look too good". Now we’re into April and I can finally pick Elle up with confidence and without feeling as if I'm going to pass out. I’m extremely happy that I’m starting to feel like myself again. Like my daughter, sometimes I learn the hard way. But I learn.

Friday, April 2, 2010

So your kinda of like a Mom?

This past month our house has been under a cold spell. One that started it's journey with my daughter then moved to me and now finally to my wife. This Friday morning my wife took a much deserved sick day. When Elle woke up, we decided to let mom sleep and we would go get breakfast and coffee. We arrived at the coffee shop and took our place in line. I was holding Elle in my left arm and she was chatting about what she wanted to build with her Legos when we got home. I was soon interrupted by a gaggle of ladies that where in front of me. The Queen Bee said, "How cute, you with your daughter on your day off?" I excused my self from Elle and replied, "Oh, I'm on a permanent day off schedule." That lead to a confused look, like a small baby bird had peered it's head out of my mouth. She quickly inquired, "So you don't work? What do you do?" Momentary flash back to the Bobs from Office Space. Now, since October '08 I have gotten some form of this question quite often. The familiarity of it all now allows me to quickly deliver my standard response: "Well, I'm a stay-at-home dad." This was followed by the previously mentioned look, this time accompanied by an evil smirk. "So, I guess you get to catch up on soaps during the day." Her broad followed her lead with laughter. This is one of those moments where I would like to say something nasty, but I remember I have toddler in tow. So, I swallow up the anger and do a quick mental five count. "Well, I'll tell you what I do. We wake up at five every morning to take my wife to the train station. I put the kid back to bed and wake her up again at eight to get her ready for school. I drop my daughter off and go to the grocery store. I start the cooking when I get home. Yesterday I did a vegetable soup for my wife because she has a cold. I do laundry, clean (yesterday I re-caulked the bathroom), and prep dinner for the evening. Then, I pick-up my kid, pick-up my wife and cook dinner. After dinner I help my daughter build a sky scrapper. Oh, and I do watch GH, but I Tivo it so I can fast forward through the boring parts. That what I do." After my fast talking tangent I get a blank stare, then after a long pause, "So, you're kinda of like a mom." Then the brilliance of a child's mind comes to play. "This is not my mommy, this is my dad and he is the best dad I ever had and he takes such good care of me." Like that, Elle shut it down and I smiled with pride.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs