babysitter

Call Me a Babysitter One More Time

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There’s this notion. This little bit of language that people use when they see a dad out and about with their kids–alone. What is it? It’s the idea that because there is no mother present that the dad is babysitting. Have you run into this situation before?

You’re walking through the mall, or Target, or are at the park with your kids in tow. And a stranger stops you.

“Oh, your kids are so cute. How’s Daddy doing babysitting you?”

Or, you’re out in public and one or all of your kids are having a meltdown. Someone approaches.

“Don’t worry kids, mommy will be back soon.”

It has happened to me. Thankfully it hasn’t happened a ton. But it has happened enough that it pisses me off to no end. I’m sorry? Did you just ask me if I was babysitting MY OWN KIDS?! Walk away. Walk away now.

This isn’t something that was planning on writing about, to be honest. But it’s long been something that annoys the hell out of me. Yesterday I read a post on Scary Mommy that is asserting the same thing that I am–and it really got me thinking about the subject again. Admittedly, I don’t usually care for most of the content that Scary Mommy puts out. But this one? It hit the nail on the head and I was really glad they published it. Dads are not babysitters. We are parents.

Is there somebody else giving me money that I am not aware of to take care of my children? That’s a big bag of nope! If someone wants to give me money, though, that’s cool. I like money.

But Nick, you say, why is it so bad to ask a dad if they are babysitting? They don’t mean anything by it. No. Just no. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t trying to be insulting or aren’t trying to insinuate that I’m less of a parent than my wife. But guess what? That’s exactly what you’re doing. I bust my ass to be the best damn dad I can be to Sophia and Maddie. And I’m damn proud to be their dad. If you haven’t noticed by the things I’ve written or the insane amount of pictures, quotes, and videos that I share of them, being a dad is my life. So, if you want to devalue that by calling me a babysitter, we’re going to have a problem.

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That’s Chris Routly from Daddy Doctrines, proudly rocking his shirt from the National At-Home Dad Network. Image courtesy City Dads Group.

Look, I’m not saying that I’m going to explode in your face if you call me a babysitter. But you’ll get a death stare from me and probably a few words that you’ll wish I hadn’t said. Stop perpetuating the archaic stereotype that dads are the lesser of the parents. Guess what? Parenting is typically a team sport. And the team is usually 50/50. So, call me a dad, a father, ask me how my day of parenting my kids is going. Just don’t call me a babysitter. You’re better than that.

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Whole-y Crap – Surviving #Whole30

I looked in the mirror. I looked at recent photos. I looked down at my plate. Do you know what I saw? I saw things I didn’t like. I saw the picture of a man that was on his way to being quite round, out-of-shape, and on his way to seeing a steep decline in his health. I saw food that I knew wasn’t going to help me. Food that wasn’t healthy for me. And, I kept eating it. Just as I always did.

I’ve never been what you would call a healthy eater. At all. I ate what I liked and when it came to fruits or veggies, I typically said no thank you, slide me that cheesesteak. I formed terrible habits, like so many of us do. It’s not like I wasn’t aware of them. I just chose to overlook them. Then something finally clicked. It was time for a change.

I watched two of my managers at work go through a month of Whole30. One is probably more of a picky eater than I am, and I watched (while also torturing him with pictures of food he couldn’t eat) him shed weight and look healthier and feel better. Before that, I had never even heard of Whole30. So, while on vacation and in the midst of pigging out and drinking all week, Sarah and I did some research and just said “this is it, we’re doing it. July 1, we make a change.” And, so we did.

Before I jump into what we did and how we changed and how doing it with small, picky kids, I’ll throw a little info your way about just what Whole30 is, straight from the source:

Established by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig (of Whole9) in April 2009, the Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff.

So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.

Photo courtesy of http://whole30.com/itstartswithfood/

Photo courtesy of Whole30.com

So, now that you know what Whole30 is, let’s jump back into the story. When we started we knew that we were going to be cutting out a ton of foods that we ate normally. I mean, my daily breakfast was a wheat bagel with peanut butter. Later, regular breakfast. And say hello to eggs and sweet potato hash every day.

If you’re looking for recipe ideas, follow Whole30Recipes on Instagram. We also got some great recipes from stupideasypaleo.com–just choose the ones that are Whole30-compliant.

The beginning was really rough. We also chose to start right before 4th of July, which made it extra hard, what with BBQs and drinking and fireworks. But, we stayed the course. We learned all about how to use healthier alternatives to make some absolutely delicious dishes. And, we made probably the best sweet potato chips that have ever been made. Seriously, I want to sell them. That good, people. I ate more fruit than I’ve eaten, probably, ever.

We had our cravings and thoughts of stopping at multiple points. But, we didn’t. I didn’t want to start something and then stop–like I’ve done with so many other things in my life. I set a goal of going the full 30 days. And we did it. That makes me insanely proud.

The long and the short of our journey was that, as you can see in my photo above, I lost weight. I lost abour 15 pounds. Sarah also lost about 15 pounds. We both felt amazing. But, aside from missing some of our old favorite foods every now and then–we also had another struggle. The kids.

Sophia eats very few foods. She’s insanely picky–as is the case with many four-year olds. So, here we were, making them pizza, or chicken nuggets, or a peanut butter sandwich. Or, giving them pretzels or chips, or a cookie or ice cream. All the while, we know we can’t eat them. I will tell you this–it takes A TON of self control to keep from licking the excess peanut butter off a knife after you make a sandwich. Especially if that’s what you’ve done, since, oh I don’t know, forever. It taught me to push away from those foods even more.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it was easy. It was far from easy. Changing habits like *that* isn’t a task that you should take on lightly. I say that, and honestly, we didn’t really prepare ourselves. We just jumped in with both feet. When you see the changes in someone else on a daily basis, you want that for yourself. I was tired of looking in pictures and seeing Mr. Fat-Face McGee staring back at me. It’s not like I was brimming with all the confidence in the world, anyway. And seeing that, made it worse. And pushed me to change.

I’m not looking for anyone to say great job to me. What I did, I did for me. I did for my kids, so they don’t have an out-of-shape dad winded any time they want to play. They need me around.

When I posted that photo above to Instagram and also on Facebook, I was absolutely floored at the responses I received. To say it was probably the most engagement I’ve received on anything I’ve posted would be true. An overwhelming amount of support from some people who I don’t talk to that often, if at all. Lots of people wanted to know more about Whole30, what it entailed, the ins and the outs. To which I gladly shared what we learned. What hit me the most were people saying that we inspired them. That they were going to follow our lead. Me–an inspiration. That is not something I take lightly. It’s an honor to hear those words from any one person, let alone more than one. You all made me feel incredible. And I want to say thank you.

I’m not finished. While I may not be on Whole30 right now, that doesn’t mean my journey to being healthy is over. If I eat something that isn’t Whole30-approved, I kind of feel guilty about it. I’m trying to stick to somewhere around 75-80% Whole30-approved diet going forward. While also trying to workout every day if I can. My journey is just beginning.

Have you done #Whole30? What were your experiences like? Favorite food from your time on it? Leave it in the comments, tweet me, or on Facebook!

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Sharing My Struggle

11017500_796305033756995_4362691894724985392_nI’m not one to get overly-serious when I write in this space. Do I complain? Yes. Do I bemoan my screaming kids acting like tyrants? Yes, I do that, too. Right now, though, I’m struggling. And I need to get it out.

I’ve written before about feeling like I was failing as a dad. That was after a very long weekend on my own with both girls for the first time–when Maddie was still an infant. It was a tough weekend. I learned a lot from it. It made me stronger. But, right now, I feel like I’m scraping by in my role as a dad.

Perhaps it’s the age that both girls are at right now. Sophia is one of the most strong-willed four-year olds I’ve ever met in my life. And Maddie is right in that terrible twos pipeline, about to turn two next month. But, I feel beaten down. Like I don’t know what I’m doing. Like I’m being overrun by two kids. It feels like my instincts have been wrong on far too many occasions. They act up, misbehave, scream, yell, fight and I go for corrective action–it always feels like I’m doing the wrong thing.

I can feel my blood boil when they don’t listen. My patience dissipates in record time, and I feel like I could snap. I feel like I’m grasping at straws. Nothing works. I read about different techniques, ask for help, and no matter what I do, I feel like it’s wrong. I’ll tell you this much–it sucks. Being filled with self-doubt about the thing that you are most proud to be is heart-wrenching.

I want to be a great dad. I want to be someone that Sophia and Maddie can look up to. I don’t want to be someone they look at and get scared of because they think I’m going to yell. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be that dad. It seems like I’m heading in that direction and I can’t stand it. Maybe I need to look in the mirror and figure some things out, I’m really not sure. But, I feel like I’m failing.

This isn’t some new realization, either. This has been eating at me for some time now. I’ve just been doing what I always do when something is getting to me–push it down a little deeper and hope it eventually stops. It’s not the healthiest way to deal with a feeling, but it’s just what I’ve always done. It’s terrible, honestly. I’m well aware that when something like this is going on, I need to get it out. Talk it out. Get it off my chest, and figure out a solution. I’m not looking for sympathy here or to be told I’m doing just fine. I just need to get this out so that I’m not burying it.

This can’t be something that I let simmer and burn inside of me for a long time. There are too many long-term ramifications to doing that. That’s why I’m writing it out. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else. I know that I’m not the only one out there–mom or dad–that feel like they’re flailing. This is my struggle and I have work to do.

If you’re struggling too, I’d love to hear about it. How do you deal with it? Leave it in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.

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Oh NO – The “No” Phase Has Begun

A photo posted by @sarie328 on

You guys, we have a problem. My sweet, lovable, nearly two-year old Maddie has discovered the word no. And I don’t mean in the cute kind of way, either.

She already hit and passed that stage. She was an adorable mini-Mutombo. She even had the finger wag down pat. She looked basically just like this:

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And IT.WAS.ADORABLE. She said it all the time. She told Sophia no A LOT. Which was great for us. I mean, it saved us the trouble. We were gonna say no anyway, but having her preempt our no with a no of her own was great. OR, she’d reinforce our no with a no of her own. #Adorbs

But now? This week, HOLY HELL. She wakes up, is happy and running around. But then it’s time to get dressed. Change her diaper. Put on clothes. Brush hair and teeth. It’s then that her inner-Daniel Bryan circa 2012 comes out. What do I mean? Just take a look at the gif below. You’ll get the idea.

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Need a more audible illustration? Fine. This oughta do the trick.

Seriously. She just started doing it this week. We’re both just like, “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!” “WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT US?!” It’s a whole thing. I blame Sophia.

I know, I KNOW, it’s just a phase. One that will last probably right through her formative years. Right up until FOREVER. You wanna know how Sarah and I are reacting to this when it happens? Take a gander, dear friends.

 

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Or how about this one:

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You catch my drift? It’s OUT OF CONTROL. So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go start chanting YES! in the face of my soon-to-be two-year-old child…

db yes gifLike this post? Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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My New Mealtime Wingman: Stouffer’s #FitKitchen Meals

Let me start this by saying one thing out of the chute: Typically, I’m not a fan of frozen meals. Normally, they don’t leave me feeling full, satisfied, or all that healthy. I’ll eat them when I need a quick meal or don’t have time to cook. Or, especially on a week like this one, where Sarah is out of town and I’m on solo parenting duty all week long.

My new wingman for mealtime.

My new wingman for mealtime.

So, this week, I had the chance to rely on my brand-new wingman: STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen meals. Because I’ve always been hesitant and unsatisfied with frozen meals, I didn’t have high expectations for these ones. All that being said, let’s get down to business, shall we?

STOUFFER’S has six varieties available:

    • STEAK FAJITA in smoked red chile sauce with a mix of red & green peppers and seasoned brown rice
    • CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN white meat chicken with a black bean & corn mix, seasoned brown rice and a verde tomatillo sauce
    • ROTISSERIE SEASONED TURKEY with a mix of diced red skin sweet potatoes & green beans
    • MONTEREY CHICKEN with diced red skin & sweet potatoes, lightly buttered green beans with BBQ style sauce
    • BOURBON STEAK with chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, seasoned broccoli & red peppers
    • OVEN ROASTED CHICKEN with diced red skin potatoes, seasoned broccoli and a savory wine sauce

I had the Steak Fajitas and will be digging into the Monterey Chicken this evening. I have to be totally honest–I was overwhelmingly happy with the food. It cooked in about seven minutes, had a very generous serving size, and it tasted really good, too!

Typically, frozen meals don’t leave me full. I’m usually looking around for something else to munch on when I’m finished. Not this time. I was full. And honestly, I came close to not being able to finish the whole thing. Every one of the 14-ounce meals contains at least 25 grams of protein, which is phenomenal–especially for someone looking to eat healthier–and cut out carbs.

Sarah is going to be out of town again in a couple weeks, and I totally plan on picking up a few more STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen meals for that week. They’re honestly perfect for the nights with little time to cook a good, healthy meal.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and STOUFFER’S® for this promotion.  I have received compensation and product for my participation, but my opinions are my own.

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Flight Plan: Kids on a Motherf*ckin’ Plane

Not-so-bright and early Friday morning, we’ll wake up, load up the car and head for the airport. Sarah’s sister is getting married in Jamaica and we’re all going–Sophia and Maddie included. What, no! I’m not nervous! How could you… why would you… I can’t believe you’d think such a thing… Ok, ok, I’m a little–what’s the word I’m looking for–terri-nervou-scare-afraid. Yes, that seems about right.

It’s not the boarding a plane part that worries me. It’s the taking two small children on a plane for the first time that does. Sophia took one flight, when she was eight-months old. To Florida. She was great there and back. But, that was a different time. We were fresh-faced parents with just one baby in tow. Now? DOUBLE TODDLER TIME! Continue reading

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Don’t Call It a Re-Run – Diving into Cartoons with My Kids

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Back in my day…

Oh, no, tell me I didn’t just start a post with that line. Let’s just pretend it didn’t happen, okay? Keep it between us, internet. As I was saying… When I was a kid, waking up on Saturday morning and watching my favorite cartoons was probably the highlight of my week. Because SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS, DUDE! I loved them. I mean, honestly, what kids didn’t love watching cartoons on a Saturday morning? G.I. Joe, Inspector Gadget, Transformers, Hammer Man (Yeah, I watched the MC Hammer cartoon, what of it?!), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my personal all-time favorite M.A.S.K. They were awesome and terrible all at the same time. I loved every single minute of it. Continue reading