Saying ‘No’

pouty

A few months ago I experienced a pretty emotional moment in parenting. I had heard from parents that this moment was coming and that it is pretty tough. Here’s how it went down. Claire had discovered this magical liquid that when blown from a special wand creates circular spheres of joy that must be chased. Claire was in her “bubble phase”. Playing bubbles had become her new favorite activity and all she wanted was bubbles…all the time.

On this particular day we gave Claire plenty of bubble time since it was an easy thing to do and she loves it so much. As we were getting ready for bath time Claire began to ask to play bubbles again. Repeatedly I said, “no”. Finally, after a few seconds of Claire continuously asking to play bubbles I once again said, “no” a little firmer and proceeded to pick her up. And that’s when it happened. I didn’t see it coming, but its effects where disarming and powerful.

As I bent down to pick Claire up she turned her little head ever so slightly in an angle towards her chest, pouted her lips in sadness and directed her eyes up towards me. It was the saddest face in the history of humanity. EVER! I literally felt my heartbreak and I choked up. My eyes got a little teary. “What is happening?!” I thought to myself. I picked Claire up and proceeded to get her to the bathtub. After I finished bathing Claire, and I had put her down to bed I told my wife what happened. I had experienced the infamous “Pouty Face”. As I said before, I had heard of the power of the Pouty Face and how tough it was to see, but wow! It was some serious stuff.

The Pouty Face is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of toddlers everywhere. Many of them use it well and get their parents to do whatever they want. I think the only reason I did not succumb to it was because I was in mid motion when it happened. I love my daughter and the pouty face she gave me was incredibly saddening and something I honestly don’t ever want to see again. I can see how easy it is for parents to break when their children give them the Pouty Face. I can see parents being so upset at this face that the kids will get whatever they want. I almost caved. I literally almost said, “The hell with bath time lets go play bubbles!”

Kids need to hear ‘no’ often. Giving into their every desire is obviously not okay and absolutely detrimental to family and society in general. Even saying ‘no’ to something good like food, pleasurable activities, bubbles etc. is necessary. Instant gratification helps no one to grow in virtue. I could share a million stories of what a 2 year old will look like after 13 years of parents saying yes to all their “Pouty Face” moments. It isn’t attractive at all.

Not. At. All.

There obviously needs to be discernment involved when saying ‘no’ to things. I’m sure this will look different with every child. My daughter may need to hear ‘no’ more often, but my next kid may not need to hear it much at all. Either way, saying ‘no’ is so important and this dad is discovering that with the infamous Pouty Face ‘no’ is not as simple as ‘no’ sounds.

I’m off to play bubbles…

Categories: boundaries, daughters, discipline, fatherhood, saying no to kids, toddlers, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Telling the Story

Leo:

I posted this last year on Christmas day and no one really read it, which is a great sign that everyone was offline and enjoying family. I am reposting it and hope you all enjoy it.

Originally posted on Discovering Fatherhood:

IMG_0603I love telling stories. I’m going to be that old grandfather who tells stories over and over again, while the grandkids say, “Grandpa! You just told us that one!”

There is something about a good story that really can work a person’s imagination, help process through difficulty, or just leave us with a smile on our face. Stories are powerful.

I am very thankful for the “Little People” that Fisher Price puts out—especially the biblical ones. My father-in-law recently got my daughter Claire the Little People Nativity Set and she loves it. I can tell because they all are covered in baby slobber half the time. Baby Jesus is currently in a cocoon of solidified saliva.

Fisher Price has done a good job of creating these cute, little people. The facial features, outfits, and color design—they all do a great job at setting the scene. Yet, the toys in and…

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Categories: christmas, fatherhood, fisher price, God, Jesus, Parenting, teaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Prway

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My daughter never seizes to amaze me.

As a father I recognize that my duty is to help my daughter grow emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, socially and physically. I, as well as my wife, spend many of our hours in the day helping our daughter to grow and learn. Recently Claire learned how to pray. As Catholic Christians, all of our prayers begin with the sign of the cross. It is a simple, yet powerful gesture that sums up the faith and the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Claire kind of sort of can do it. Usually she lifts her hand towards her forehead and then brings it down towards her chin in a circular motion. Wax on, wax off sort of thing. We’re working on it.

Our prayer time with Claire is short. After Claire attempts the sign of the cross she places her palms together to pray. This she can do really well. Most of her prayer time is before meals and before going to bed. We keep it short and sweet because, well… she’s not even two yet. Claire has come to recognize that before every meal we must give thanks and pray. She has become sort of the prayer police at home.

It isn’t unusual for my wife and I to find ourselves pulled a million different directions. Between my wife’s night shift work, lack of sleep, and part time Masters Degree studies and my Youth Ministry schedule that can be…unpredictable at best; we find our selves on the go all the time and exhausted. It is challenging to make prayer a priority every morning. We do it, but it is challenging.

A few days ago I found myself rushing to get to a night meeting at church. I had cooked our meal and was all “go, go, go”. I put the plate of food on the table and immediately began to eat. I was interrupted by my daughter’s words: “prway!” It took a second to register. “Prway? Yes. I need to pray. Give thanks.” I put the fork down and my wife, daughter and I prayed together.

It is so easy to get caught up in the business of life. It is so easy to rush to that important thing. What we do is important and necessary, or else we wouldn’t do it. Yet, we must slow down to give thanks. To “prway”, as a wise young child is teaching me.

As we enter into these next few weeks of family interactions, feasts, laughter, hurrying and last minute shopping excursions let us not forget to give thanks. To pause and “prway”. For life is a gift that we have for a short time and praying is a necessary way of giving thanks to God for it. My daughter teaches me this every time a plate touches our table.

“Daddy prway!”

Categories: children, daughters, fatherhood, God, learning, prayer, teaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

To Jersey and Back

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My cousin got married this past week in New Jersey so the family traveled to partake in the festivities. We have stayed with Claire in hotel rooms before but mostly when she was in her infant stage. Putting her down to sleep as an infant a few feet away from us wasn’t a big deal–she would pretty much sleep through anything and we could carry on. Now as a toddler it is a whole new ball game.

At home we have walls to filter the noise but in the hotel room there was no place with walls to go to, except for the bathroom. As most kids do, Claire needs her nap. A few months ago Claire missed her naptime due to family visiting and it was pretty bad. She wouldn’t go to sleep that night, but not only that it threw her off her schedule for two weeks.

FOR TWO WEEKS!!!

Needless to say Jess and I understand the sacredness of naptime. We are not messing with it. So, in a hotel in Jersey we put Claire down in her playpen and we proceeded to eat our lunch in the only place with separate walls. The bathroom. I know, it’s gross but I much rather eat there than wake my daughter from her nap. TWO WEEKS PEOPLE!

My wife and I had hard tacos and chips. When I went to order this meal I didn’t think of the amount of noise the said tacos and chips would make while eating. Amateurs. I know. But tacos sounded so good, especially when all you can eat in this part of Jersey is Italian. As much as we love Italian you can only have so many cannollis before you lose your cannollis.

Anyways, so I sat on the toilet and my wife sat on the tub. We whispered and ate our food as quietly as possible. It was romantic in a weird sort of way. “I love the way your eyes shine off the porcelain my love.” We finished our quasi-romantic meal and headed ever so quietly to the main living area where Claire slumbered. Jess grabbed her laptop to study and I began to write this blog post on my iPad.

I looked into seeing if hotels have rooms made for large families with separate sleeping quarters and some do, but they are ridiculously expensive. Our hotels website in NJ didn’t seem to have any.

My wife and I were fine with needing to accommodate for nap time, but what do you do when you have more than one child and you cannot afford the presidential sweet your hotel offers with that extra room? I would love to hear what other families do when they travel with multiple kids and have to stay in a hotel.

Categories: children, daughters, fatherhood, hotels, naptime, toddlers, traveling, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diapers

diapers

My daughter is 19 months old but she is the size of a 3 year old. Claire is tall, slender and yet a very solid baby. Since Claire was an infant we have struggled with trying to get the best diapers for her. We have used several brands, disposable and reusable. Prior to Claire being born, in what I can only deduce was a moment of sheer stupidity mixed with no experience and a dash of romanticism, my wife and I decided to buy reusable diapers. It seemed like a responsible, earth-friendly decision but I want to kick myself in the junk every time Claire poops in one of them. I wrote about this last year.

When Claire was born we used Huggies brand at first because advertizing works, and when I think of diapers I think Huggies. We liked the Huggies because it had that convenient racing stripe down the middle of it that told you the baby had urinated. It went from yellow to blue and you knew the baby had taken care of business—very necessary for new dads. After a few months with these diapers we noticed Claire got a bad diaper rash and so we switched to Pampers, but they didn’t really do a whole lot in regards to preventing the rash. We tried the Toys R’ Us brand because someone gave us a pack of them and it was just stupid. We used 2 diapers and threw the rest away. Stick to making toys!

When Claire was 3 months old and the meconium had cleared her system and more importantly wasn’t going to the bathroom every 3 minutes we started using the reusable diapers from Bum Genius. They are a one-size-fits all diaper and they do, but we found out very quickly that they do not hold urine or poop in as well as disposable diapers do. They were kind of hit or miss most of the time. We followed instructions, used the inserts and flap the way they said we should, but it still wouldn’t always work. Maybe its because Claire is so big, but who knows.

As Claire continued to grow we found that diapers didn’t always fit well or hold her large bowel movements—the reusable diapers leaked like a pasta colander. Maybe someday I will blog about the Olive Garden diaper incident…dear…God! Anyways, after much diaper shopping, unnecessary blowouts and traumatizing grandma at the Olive Garden we have found a diaper that has been tried and tested for over a year. Some may be surprised at the brand of diaper that has triumphed and some of you will shake your heads ever so slightly in agreement with this news. The best diaper that we have found to fit our tall, slender yet solid child is Target brand diaper.

What can Target not do well?

I was very skeptical about buying Target brand diapers—especially after the Toy’s R Us fiasco—but they are awesome. My daughter sleeps a full 12 hours a night and when she wakes up her diaper is the size of a small comet, but there are no leaks. The monster poops that she has, caused mostly by mangos and chik-fil-a are kept in the Target diaper. It is impressive.

We still use the reusable diapers around the house, because we spent so much money on them (we have 20 of them in total…) and we still secretly hope that they will not leak. Sometimes they don’t and it makes us happy, but most of the time they do and I want to hurt myself for buying them. When we go outside the house the Target brand is all we use. It also fixed her rash issue, because Target brand doesn’t use any dyes (the racing stripe has dye in case you didn’t know).

Discovering the right type of diaper for your kid can be a daunting task, especially when they are so expensive. I hope that this blog post helps those beginning the diaper search.

Categories: diapers, fatherhood, Parenting, types of diapers | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not the Usual

HALLOWEEN

I have never been a big Halloween person. I don’t think its evil, or bad nor do I think that people who celebrate it are crazy. It just has never really spoken to me.

My wife is really excited about this being our daughters first trick-or-treating Halloween. Claire is old enough to enjoy the dressing up and going out. We were given a ladybug costume a while back and I figured that’s what my wife was going to have Claire wear. To my surprise Claire’s costumer was not the usual cute-toddler-costume one thinks of. Claire is going to be St. Clare of Assisi for Halloween.

“Who?”

That was my mothers’ response. When I told her that it was a nun she thought it was weird and that I should have picked something “cuter”. I understand that sentiment. It is definitely not the usual Halloween character. However I am glad my wife decided to chose a saint for Claire’s Halloween costume. There will be plenty of toddlers dress as goblins, ghouls, and other frightening characters. I am sure that there will be plenty of cute ladybug, and butterfly costumes to go around as well. I believe there will be very few children if any dressed as Saints this Halloween.

There is something very depressing about that last sentence.

Saint’s are heroes. Men and women, who struggled, sinned, changed and lived courageous lives of virtue under devastating, sometimes life-ending circumstances. If you have never read about St. Augustine, St. Claire of Assisi, St. John Paul II, and St. Maria Goretti—you are missing out on some of the greatest stories ever told.

When my daughter shows up at someone’s doorstep on October 31st, she will be dressed in an unusual costume. This costume will probably intrigue those who open their doors. It will be an opportunity to share a little bit about a great Saint. My first real blog post on this journey of discovering fatherhood consisted of sharing about my desire for my daughter to become a saint. I guess it is only fitting that my wife dresses her up like one for Halloween.

Claire is a normal kid and so were all those we call saints. It is the not so usual way that they lived their lives that lead these ordinary people to become extraordinary. So my daughter will show up at someone’s doorstep sharing about our spiritual family’s ancestors. Maybe you find this weird, or pushy, and I’m okay with that. It is this father’s humble opinion that we don’t need more goblins, ghouls, butterflies or ladybugs in the world, but we do need more saints. Ordinary men and women who chose to live in extraordinary ways.

Saints change the world, and I believe that we need to discover more about these men and women so that our children as well as ourselves, can be inspired to follow in their not-so-usual ways and be transformed.

 

Categories: costumes, daughters, fatherhood, halloween, holiness, saints | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Skimpy Costume Dilemma

Leo:

I wrote this last year and I think it is worth sharing once again with Halloween around the corner. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Discovering Fatherhood:

jackolanternA few days ago I was in a Wal-Mart with my daughter Claire and I saw that they already had Halloween costumes out. There were two high school girls looking at the different outfits and I happened to overhear their conversation. The one girl thought that the costume she was looking at was not “skimpy” enough. Yes, she actually used that word. The conversation ended with them deciding to go to one of those pop-up Halloween stores in town to get something that would be more “fitting” for their needs.

Every year I see some of my Youth Ministry girls’ pictures on Facebook from Halloween parties and I dread the potential of seeing one of them in these “skimpy” costumes. I dread it because:

  1. It hurts my heart to see them dressing in a way that is going to objectify them and have guys thinking all kinds of inappropriate things…

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Lock Out Rant

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The day began chaotic. I woke up later than I should have. Claire woke up exactly at the same time I did which meant that I would have to put breakfast and my quiet time aside until she was taken care of. After changing her and getting her breakfast I remembered that the animals needed to eat and that the dog had been holding his bladder since 10pm the night before.

Animals were fed. Dog used the bathroom. Success.

Daughter spills Chiobani yogurt on her tray and proceeds to smear it all over the tray and then push 75% of its contents onto the floor.

Sigh…

Luckily the dog isn’t lactose intolerant and enjoys strawberries.

I find something else for my daughter to eat. In typical fashion she licks it, puts it down and a half hour later comes back and eats it as if it were the greatest thing ever. What’s wrong with her taste buds?!

I look at the oven clock: 8:45am. Crap. I need to get Claire to the babysitter and I still haven’t packed her lunch or mine. *Note to self—do this the night before!!!

Food is packed and ready to go. It may not be the greatest sandwich I ever made but its food and it will keep me alive. I grab Claire and her diaper bag with one hand, lunch bag in the other, and my left hand pinky has a hold of the keys and iPad mini.

Pinky is feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I begin to walk towards the door and the dog greets me as if I were taking him on a walk. I put everything down. The dog needs to go out one last time before I go to work and then I have to put him in his crate. Sigh…

Dog uses bathroom. Success.

I turn the knob to the French door that is to lead me back into my house to regretfully be greeted with my shoulder hitting said door. “Umm…this door seems to not be opening.” I turn the knob and push again. Still not opening. My daughter stands on the other side of the glass with a look that I have not quite experienced before.

The hamster slowly begins to give momentum to the wheel.

Daughter + door not opening + new look on face = locked out of the house.

Sigh…

“Claire, sweetie. Can you unlock the deadbolt?” “No, it isn’t funny so stop laughing.” Claire begins her attempt to reverse the deadbolts locking mechanism, but apparently she can only lock it. Of course!

I think to myself, “How do I get into the house?” I could wake my wife up, but she worked the night shift and went to bed 2 hours ago. She will not be happy. Naturally, I go back to the door and begin coaching Claire on how to open the door. Claire tries but fails. I laugh a little. If I weren’t going to be late to work it would be a lot funnier.

I finally give up and knock on our bedroom window. Wife wakes up and unlocks the door. Success. Wife has a look I recognize very well. It is a mixture of “I’m-not-pleased”, with a dash of “I-would-kill-you-if-our-daughter-wasn’t-here-right-now”. I try to make light of the situation and share with her how Claire is the one that locked me out. “Isn’t that cute?” I ask. Wife continues to walk away towards the bedroom.

I finally get the dog in the crate and Claire into the car. I drop her off at the babysitter and get to work 15 minutes late. I sit down at my chair and attempt to relax. I think to myself, I made it to work only 15 minutes late. That’s better than I expected. Success.

Lunchtime comes around and my uninspiring sandwich is nowhere to be found. The hamster slowly begins to give momentum to the wheel.

Sigh…I left it at home…

Categories: child locking you out of the house, daughters, dogs, fatherhood, patience | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Her Words

Word Cloud

 

Language is pretty amazing. The fact that we can create an alphabet that connects strings of letters into words; that when spoken create sounds; that create meaning; that convey thought and emotion is pretty astounding.

My daughter has so much to say these days. The world is new and filled with exciting things and she wants to tell us all about it. I can’t help but laugh every time Claire goes off on a rant about the neighbor’s dog barking, or about the cat jumping off the couch. Claire is speaking in her own baby language and I cant help but wonder what is going through that little head of hers. It really is amazing to see how vocal she is.

I don’t know about your kids but mine says things with certain pitches, tones and slurs. Each word comes out in this unique and ridiculously cute way. When she was 4 months old she made some noises that were awesome to hear. Claire couldn’t quite blow kisses; instead she did this clicking noise with her mouth. As Claire gets older her noises, voice and words change. My wife and I were amazed to hear that Claire’s voice had changed a few months ago. She woke up and sounded like someone else’s kid. It was sad in a sense, losing the old baby voice. Yet the new toddler voice is great. I’ve recorded some of Claire’s sounds and I’m really glad I did. I watch the videos every now and then and it reminds me of the change and growth.

I know soon enough she will be speaking plainly but right now there is something so neat about her babble. We are enjoying it and at the same time excited for when it all makes sense. My friend Scott jokingly says that when kids are young we are excited for them to walk and talk, and then for the rest of their lives we’re telling them to sit down and shut up. I’m sure there is much truth in that.

The miracle of the human person unfolds before me everyday through my daughter. Today I am noticing her words. Maybe tomorrow it will be the change in her fingers and toes, or facial features and hair. Everyday I am blown away by the awesomeness (in the literal sense of the word) that God has bestowed on human beings. Who knew that discovering fatherhood would have me discover more than what being a father means. Discovering the complexities of language, sounds and words—things we never really pay attention to reveals how mysterious and amazing the world I live in is.

All this brought to my life through a 1-½ year old.

* The above image is a word cloud made up of the many words found in this blog.

Categories: baby talk, children, daughters, fatherhood, fathers, growing up, language, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Prince Charming is a lie, but real men aren’t!

 

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I am sharing this post from an article I recently read on the website: The Chastity Project. It is written by a young woman named Esther Rich. I think she touches on something very true that sometimes men (at least this man) we feel like we are not the “Prince Charming” that we are supposed to be. Esther’s word are worth sharing. Enjoy.

LEO
I LOVE the song ‘Lead Me’ by Sanctus Real, but I can’t listen to it without getting emotional. My friend and I cried to each other over the phone when we first heard it.

Why?

Because it hits a sore spot. It hits that wound in all of our hearts that bleeds the phrase “how come there are no real men anymore?!” Most of us have heard it asked. Nearly as many of us have asked it ourselves. But the reason we don’t see them isn’t that they don’t exist, it’s that we tell them they can’t.

God created us for union and communion with each other. His unmatchable creativity is such that he designed us to fit together. Our lives are the most fruitful and we feel the most fulfilled when we’re exercising that complementarity. We need men in our lives—not just husbands, but fathers, brothers, friends—and they need us. We unlock an extra level of potential in each other.

Sometimes as women we put far too much pressure on men to become the ideal we think we need. We’re often guilty of underestimating just how difficult a job they have! Supporting us and leading us takes an immense amount of strength. But that strength comes from God alone, and must be continually renewed through prayer and abandonment to Him.

Disney has taught us to expect perfection and settle for nothing less. But Prince Charming is a lie. No wonder the divorce rate is rising so rapidly: we’re in for a serious shock if we marry with the false belief that the men who swept us off our feet and carried us to the altar in their strong arms will retain that guise of perfection for long.

No man is flawless (neither are we!), and expecting them to solve all our problems will only end in more heartache. Christ called us to love one another as He loves us. That means that the most fruitful relationships will be built on grace and mercy rather than pressure and judgement. We’re called to love each other including our flaws, because without that merciful love no relationship can survive.

Disney’s version of “Mr Right” may be far-fetched and idealistic, but deep down we do have a natural longing to be supported and guided by a strong man—spiritually, physically and emotionally… and that’s no coincidence! What we long for is actually the root of what men were intended to be, we just don’t realise it. We want them to be strong and gentle and decisive and loving all at the same time… and they can be! But to benefit from that, we have to allow them to develop those strengths. To have a “real man,” we have to allow him to be a real man.

Culture insists on mourning the loss of ‘real men’, but perhaps it’s simply the definition used that needs challenging. A real man isn’t one who works out twice a day, earns a six figure salary and buys extravagant presents with money he won’t miss.

A “real man” is one who will lead you with strong hands even when that means humbly admitting his mistakes.

One who will discerningly make sacrifices for the greater good of your family.

One who seeks guidance from his heavenly Father instead of relying on his own strength.

One who’d rather walk you to Heaven than drive you around in his Porsche.

One who looks at your heart before your physique.

One who prays for you, not just pays for you.

One who strives to protect your purity not conquer it.

One who loves you as Christ loves His Church.

… and these REAL MEN EXIST!

______________________________

Esther Rich has a bachelor degree in Psychology from Oxford University, UK, and is currently completing the Sion Community Foundation Year, working on their youth ministry team. She loves Theology of the Body, Papa Francesco and a good worship band. She is passionate about empowering women to be who they were created to be, and blogs at “For Such A Time As This.”

Categories: being a man, dying to self, fathers, God, manhood, prince charming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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