(Back to work) X 2

Wife’s maternity leave ended today so she went back to her job…and we both went back to work. As the day went  on I found myself thinking back two and a half years ago. On my first day home with Sweetie I was a flurry of activity around the house. I was taking care of her and cleaning the house front to back and washing six loads of laundry and cooking up all kinds of food. I was proving I could handle the whole stay-at-home gig. And day two was completely the opposite, completely unproductive.

Today I used that experience, and those from the detour, and I paced myself. Sure, I got some cleaning done. And yes, some laundry too. Of course I took care of Cricket and her infant needs. But I spent a bunch of time playing games with Sweetie and coloring pictures. And we built a fort. Here’s the experience working: I had to move the chairs to clean under the table, and I needed to keep Sweetie off the hardwood while it dried from steam-cleaning. So we built the fort in the adjoining room and she stayed put – wasn’t that smart?!? Obviously, this two child gig is going to be a change, but I think it will be a manageable one.


Fort fun!

Fort fun!

This is the newest adventure on the detour, and of course a whole new challenge. I’ve met plenty of other stay-at-home parents taking care of two children. Most recently I watched Momma Z as she has learned how to balance two children. Everyone I have met seems to be doing just fine. Maybe with a little less sleep than before, but overall just fine. So I am optimistic.

What up, ‘cuz?

Our family continues to grow, this time out of one of the extended branches. At the beginning of the month Sweetie and Cricket welcomed a new cousin. Wife’s brother, Tio Long Arm, and our sister-in-law, Zia brought their son, Gnocchi into the world. Like all babies, he wrote his own unique birth story, but now the drama is over and they are all home and getting to know each other. So now their fun really begins! Just wanted to welcome them to the detour. Given that he is the first grandson on Wife’s side of the family, they will surely be in future stories.

Welcome Gniocchi!

Welcome Gnocchi!

Introducing: The D-3 Do-Betters

This invitation goes out to all of my readership, all the blog followers, all the Facebook followers, and most importantly, all of the stay-at-home Dads that this reaches.

The time to draw attention to men’s cancer issues is upon us once again. Movember is just a couple of weeks away. Dad’s Diaper Detour is once again hosting a team, this year called the “D-3 Do-Betters”. I will once again be growing a sweet moustache for the occasion, and I invite you to join with me.

The rules are simple: Sign up for the ‘Do-Betters here. Stay clean-shaven until Movember 1, then grow a moustache. No beards, goatees, just a ‘stache. Use the moustache to start conversations about testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health issues affecting men, and raise funds for said issues. Act like a gentleman at all times.

I don’t want this to be a “challenge”, there are some many of those flying around the internet these days, and with good cause. I am sending this out as an invitation. An invitation to join the ranks and the fight. I look forward to seeing you on the team page.

It’s Movember!

It’s Movember!

How the “new normal” squashed our 6 year anniversary

Cricket is two months old, Sweetie is two-and-a-half years old. This puts a little bit of a damper on our social calendar. Wife is still the food source for Cricket, and Sweetie is a toddler complete with her emotional light switch. With all this, today’s celebration of our sixth wedding anniversary was a bit subdued.

The day opened cloudy and rainy, so the house woke up an hour and a half late. Late and slowly, as everyone was groggy and sleepy. Breakfast and such took until 11:15 when we finally got ourselves into the car to run some errands. Given that we didn’t have any classes or social obligations for the girls, we ran around taking care of shopping that we were not able to do during the week. Exciting start, no?

When we made it home in the late afternoon Sweetie was due for a nap and Cricket was set to eat and snooze as well. Wife and I took care of some clean up around the house, taking advantage of the down time. Dinner was Gale Street Inn ribs (thanks Gramma and Grampa B & B) with our new normal around the table. Sweetie in her booster, Cricket in the bouncer on top, and Wife and I at the sides. It was a quiet celebration, but it was genuine. Next year Cricket will be more sturdy and Sweetie even more manageable. Then wife and I will go out, have a fancy dinner maybe even an adult beverage. So the celebration of our sixth wedding anniversary was low-key this year, but that’s okay. We’re looking forward to celebrating many more.

We'll take it

We’ll take it

Nana’s Zucchini Bars

Overall, Sweetie is a good eater. We struggle with food sometimes, but its more toddler power struggle than food aversion. We told her when she was born that Wife and I like good food and we like to eat. So if she was going to make it in our household, she too would have to eat well. Again, for the most part she does eat well.

I am always looking for ideas for meals, though. We have our go-to foods and it is just too easy to eat the same thing over and over. I think continuing to add to the variety helps keep Sweetie engaged with meals and away from boredom. Breakfast has been the most challenging meal for me to diversify. While Sweetie will kill a bowl of oatmeal with fruit, I just don’t feel right giving that to her seven days a week. So here is a recipe that we have seen some success serving to Sweetie.

The back story here is that my maternal grandmother, “Nana”, was the epitome of hospitality. Most grandmas are good at feeding their family but Nana took the blue ribbon. From sandwiches to baked goods to hot meals, you always ate well with her. Part of her legacy when she passed was her book of recipes. Sister Scales-of-Justice gave Wife a copy of the book for Christmas a couple of years back, so our household tries the recipes out every so often. I recently came across this one for Zucchini Bars and tested it on the family. The first time that I served the bars Sweetie ate them, but did not love them. I tweaked the recipe a bit and Sweetie ate one and a half bars in a sitting. I thought that was enough food interest to share. Given the ingredients, it was a surprise that Sweetie liked these bars at all(Okay, one time we had to give her some ketchup too).

Zucchini Bars – Ingredients

  • 3 cups zucchini thinly sliced. (3 medium-sized should do fine. I like to peel it and drop it into the food processor.)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic chopped fine (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (and/or ½ teaspoon seasoned salt)
  • ½ teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1 cup Bisquick mix (totally cheater, but yummy!)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 4 eggs slightly beaten
  • 3 Breakfast sausage patties browned and cut up (Not in the original, my addition)

Set oven to 350°. If using breakfast sausage patties, brown them in a pan. When done, set patties on a paper towel and plate to cool. Mix Bisquick, oil and eggs well. Cut up sausage patties and add those to the bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Spread in greased 9 x 13 pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (until lightly browned).

Like I said earlier, I tweaked this recipe for better results – please feel free to do the same. Try bacon, or turkey sausage. Don’t like zucchini? Wife and I are already talking about a broccoli and bacon version. The recipe is on the savory side and I think any changes that stay in that realm will be tasty. Another change that I made was with my pan. I did not use a 9 x 13 (sorry Nana) but instead used a brownie pan from Pampered Chef. That way we ended up with 12 bars already formed and ready to eat.

So fancy!

So fancy!

So try out Nana’s Zucchini Bars and let me know what you think in the comments section. I am currently looking for the recipe to make “Bisquick” so we can remove the prepackaged mix. Other than that, I think this is a fairly healthy recipe (I am not a nutritionist, but I am a biased grandson!). Also, please let me know if you have any breakfast food that your little one (specifically toddler) really digs on. As I mentioned, I am always looking for new good stuff to feed Sweetie. Enjoy!


Now that's pretty

Now that’s eatin’

2 Months In…

Wife and I said we were going to be better about tracking the Cricket’s progress. We decided the belly stickers were an easy, accessible, and cute way to do this. Cricket hasn’t gotten much space on the blog yet, besides her introduction, so there is more to come (isn’t there always?!?). We did visit the doc this week and she was given a clean bill of health. Our history of quick, uneventful doctor visits continues with this daughter. That also means my general gratitude to the universe just got a pinch more profound. So here she is at two months!

Hey there.

Hey there.

Today’s Life Lessons

The Universe was all about life lessons today. I made sure to share them with Sweetie, right up to the moment that the student became the teacher. But I am getting ahead of myself. First, some stories from the day.

Anecdote #1:

While stepping outside to retrieve the paper from the steps, I overheard a loud monologue of profanity echoing through the morning. With the 9:30 AM temperature approaching 60 degrees and the sun shining I thought, “What is all this?” Looking down the street I saw the municipal trucks and realized the traffic pattern on our 1-way street must be challenged because of tree trimming. Apparently, an older gentleman in car #1 (a 90’s Oldsmobile) must have passed through the stop sign in a manner that angered younger gentleman #2 (in a 2010ish Infiniti).

“Pull over old man, I’ll EFF you up (Censored by me-this is a family-friendly blog). Pull the EFF over old man. I’ll EFF you up EFFin’ Old man. Pull over right now.”

Well, the older gentleman listened to this for half a block and decided to put his car in park right in the middle of our street. When he got out and faced gentleman #2, I thought someone pushed pause on the soundtrack. It got real quiet. I could hear the leaves rustling in the fall breeze.

Gentleman #2 uttered a few weak, mumbled responses. Gentleman #1 called him some select, albeit sexist, names. He got back in his car and proceeded on his way, knowing in good faith that old school will always kick your ass.

Anecdote #2:

Around 11:00 AM I was driving Sweetie to her painting class and I pulled up to a red light. I thought my lane was the right lane (all the rest of traffic was on my right), so I was a bit surprised when a white Impala pulled up on my right. I could see a parked car just across the intersection, so I assumed they were making a right turn. Well, with the green light we both went forward until we got to the parked car. Our stalemate ended with the Impala braking hard, swerving behind me and speeding past me on my left. When they passed the passenger yelled something unintelligible at me.

I let them drive on and noticed they were slowing, looking like they were going to make a left turn. Turns out the passenger had more to yell to me and kept making noise as I passed them. Instinctively, my foot went to my brake pedal to slow the car and set us up for a third passing and probably a confrontation. Then I saw Sweetie in the rear view, the fall sun out before me, and instead decided to cruise on to class.

Anecdote #3 (we’re almost there!):

Painting class was a bit of struggle, Sweetie wanted to do everything but paint her pumpkin picture. The class is really like “paint play”, but today she wasn’t having it. She had to sit in my lap, she didn’t want to sit still, she was demanding about the brushes, she dragged her arm through the paint, blah, blah, blah. Cue Frustration.

After class we headed outside to have a picnic lunch in the park. With the temperature safely at 60 and not a cloud in the sky, there was no way we were missing the chance. Sweetie ate fine, but the wind was blowing like 200 miles an hour. And the day was not as warm in the shade. And the park squirrels started circling us (which normally isn’t so bad but today they took a tactical position in the tree we were near and that freaked me out a bit). So lunch became a walking lunch. Bump the frustration a notch.

After the food was done and we escaped the squirrels got into some sun, Sweetie found the park’s largest leaves lying on the ground. She has a thing for leaves and will rake them up, stomp them, collect piles by hand-she just likes playing with leaves. So when she saw these leaves that were as big as her face (I’m not a dendrologist, but I think they were maple leaves), she was completely stoked. She would pick them up and toss them into the wind. And she was just cracking up helping the leaves blow away, outside on a sunny fall day.

So, finally, here are my “take-aways” for today. #1) I told Sweetie that beautiful weather, like today, makes people feel froggy – all big and strong and tough. Like gentleman #2 in his Infiniti and like the passenger in the Impala; when the sun is shining everyone thinks they want to jump in. #2) I let my daughter know that she should never let her mouth write a check her butt can’t cash. This is one of Brother-man’s favorite sayings, and it was a fitting description for gentleman #2 and his tirade being cut short when he was called out. And #3), my last life lesson for today, was all for me. Sweetie was a perfect example of enjoying a moment and finding happiness is something simple and accessible. It reminded me of a recent post from Stay-at-HomeField Advantage. SAHD “Ryan” talks about taking a page from a child’s playbook and remembering to see the wonder and the good around us. And that was what my daughter was doing today right in front of me. No structured lesson, no directions, do drama, no raised voices. Just the sun and the wind and the leaves to enjoy.

The “instead of…” re-direct

Here’s a little gem that has proven useful around our house. I hope it gives some respite to those of you out there attempting to communicate with a toddler.

Sweetie is just about two-and-a-half years old. A while back, about eight months ago, she went through a gnarly and thoroughly frustrating biting period. No big shock, many toddlers experiment with biting. Wife did some online digging and found a method for diffusing the situation by re-directing the child’s behavior with an “instead of” scenario. When Sweetie would make like she was going to bite Wife would tell her, “Instead of biting Mommy, why don’t you give me a kiss?” I was a skeptic at first, and it took some getting used to, but we saw good results quickly. And got a lot of kisses.

As we have moved into the full-blown, second-year-of-life toddler existence I have applied this re-direct to just about everything. If Sweetie throws a fit over eating, I give her an “Instead of getting upset, let’s just take the bite.” What? She doesn’t want to stop playing to pee? “Instead of arguing about going to the bathroom, let’s just go real fast and get back to playing.” And it is working well enough that I thought I should share it with the rest of you (like 8 times out of 10).

Some of you out there probably already know this parent mind-trick. That’s great, just give me a “Duh” in the comments section. Others might point out that the “instead of” re-direct provides the child with an option, a choice. This empowers the child to exercise their agency in a situation while still reaching the parent’s goal. You can fill the comments section with heady child psychology type stuff. For those of you that might need this tidbit, please try it. You can leave your success stories in the comments!

That’s all for now. I will continue to share as we see successes in our house. Please feel free to do the same – I can always use the help!