What’s in the Box?? Enough With Un-Boxing Videos

whats in the box

Have you ever thought to yourself “Gee, I really wish I could see what this toy looks like. Unpacked. Put together. And played with… BEFORE I buy it”? No, you haven’t? Okay, good, then I’m not alone. Because normal people either look at the box and see ‘oh, that’s how they look assembled’, or buy them and put them together themselves. Why do I ask? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because the trend of MEGA-POPULAR unboxing videos on YouTube is driving me insane.

But. Nick, you say, you don’t have to watch them. No, no I do not. But you know who loves them? A certain four-year old child of mine. Honestly. I have no idea how she discovered them. Somehow she went from watching Peppa Pig episodes on YouTube to watching some floating pair of hands with intricately-painted nails assembling Peppa Pig toys.

Oh, so you know about the floating pair of hands behind the Disney Collector channel? You know the one, that was the highest grossing channel on YouTube last year. Somehow, every video of these folks unboxing, assembling, and playing with toys garners millions of views. Probably from kids on an iPad clicking next after every single video they watch. I guess, then, I’m part of the problem. I can’t fault them for what they do, though. More power to them for finding something that works and making money. I wish I could do that. This is the channel where the most popular videos seem to live.

Aside from the fact that these videos suck the kids in–because, what kid doesn’t wanna see cool toys being played with–it shows the kids even more toys they’re gonna want for themselves. Granted, it’s up to us as parents to control what our kids watch on our devices. But, still I don’t understand how this trend came to be. Who thought up the idea? It just seems like such an odd thing to decide to do.

Is it just me? Is it just Sophia that finds these videos so amazing that she wants to watch them all the time? When she asks me if she can watch Peppa Pig, I know damn well that she wants to watch those floating hands put together the LEGO hospital again. Not an actual episode of Peppa Pig. What’s next? Watching someone walk into the store, pick up the box, and then pay for it? I guess we’ll call those videos “Pay-to-Play”. Make it stop, you guys. MAKE.IT.STOP.

Who Did It? #CollegeOrKids

collegeorkids

Did you go to college? (Insert your mom went to college joke)… Okay, well if you didn’t, then have you ever seen a movie about college? Or how about heard a story that starts “this one time, when I was in college, I got so drunk…”? If you answered yes to any of them, then you will understand what I’m about to say. Kids in college do some really stupid shit. Like, really stupid. I never did, nope, not me. FINE, I did my fair share of stupid things, while I had been drinking.

Living in a dorm, or even in a house or apartment with other people in college will lead to witnessing some insane things. Such as? How about some random person opening your dorm room door, walking into your room, and peeing in your trash can? That happened. More than once.

You may be asking yourself, Nick, what the hell is your point? Everyone knows that college kids do stupid crap. Yeah, but did you know that when you think about it, ridiculous things that little kids do could ALSO have been done by drunken college kids. Yeah, they’re one in the same.

Need proof? OH I GOT PROOF. Check out some of these tweets that I’ve (and one from Ben) been sending out over the interwebs recently using the #CollegeOrKids.

Do you see what I’m getting at? There are a ton more examples that could be and SHOULD BE tweeted and shared, too! Now it’s your turn, my oh-so-witty readers. I wanna see what you come up with for #CollegeOrKids. Tweet them @brownie_22 using that hashtag. Or you can comment here, or on my Facebook page.

Paybacks Are a Bitch: Sophia is Just Like Me As a Kid

IMG_6111“I hope one day when you have kids, they’re just like you.”

Do you want to know who said that to me? My mom. I was a bit, how-do-you-say, energetic. At all times. Even when I would be sleeping, my mouth would be running. I was always on the go, always moving, bouncing around, yapping, and just a big ol’ ball of energy. Plus, I was adorable. I mean, just look at that picture! I know. What happened, right?!

Why am I talking about myself as a kid? You mean aside from the fact that I was awesome? Because, my friends, I’ve been dealt paybacks. Paybacks in the form of having a child that is almost exactly like I was as a kid. And you know what else? Holy crap would I have HATED me as a kid! Ok, not really, but I probably would’ve wanted to lasso kid Nick and tell him to sloooooooooow doooooooown.

From the time she wakes up. Ok, well, from the time we force her out of bed in the morning to the time she passes out, she is always go, go, go, going. She’s over here, she’s over there, and whoooooooosh she’s gone! Now, I know, I’m really describing most toddlers. But, something about her being just like me when I was a kid, man. I don’t know, it’s just, I deserve it.

Not only is she all energy, all the time, but she’s also super picky about food. You know who else was? ME. Mealtime is always an adventure. The other night while having dinner, while she wouldn’t listen or sit still, I repeated a line my mom used on me many a time. “You’re giving me agita!” Granted, I did this while my mom was actually at the table. And it was also on purpose to get a reaction from my mom. But, still. Just one other reminder of how that little girl is entirely too much like me as a kid.

Plus, she’s goofy. Singing, dancing, making up her own words to songs, rockin’ silly voices. THOSE are some of my favorite characteristics. She does and says ridiculous things. Like the other morning when she said the following.

Yeah, dude. She said she has old knees. What in the what?! She’s four! How does she know what the hell old knees are?? It cracked me up. I’m still laughing about it.

Paybacks, they are a bitch. But you know what else they are? Pretty damn awesome!

The Finality of Life: A Tribute to Oren

orenLife is finite. That is a fact. But coming to that realization is difficult.

In late October of 2013, Ben and I had just started doing our podcast, The Poppin’ Bottles Dad-Cast. Shortly thereafter, we were introduced to the guys at Life of Dad. They quickly invited us to join a Facebook group for Dad Bloggers. Little did I know at the time, but that group was about to become a major piece of my life.

The man who started that group in 2012, Oren Miller had this idea “so crazy it might just work” to bring dad bloggers from across the globe together, as one. What started small is now a group over 1,000 men strong. It’s a place for dads of all backgrounds to come together, work on our craft, hone our skills, find support, vent, and almost anything else under the sun. It’s a place for debate, for friendship, for fatherhood. It is because of the members of this group–and part of Oren’s brainchild–that the idea of the modern father is shifting. The bumbling, hapless dad is being kicked to the curb–hopefully for good.

Why am I telling you all this? Last May, Oren let us know that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. He penned a post while in the hospital that was so beautiful, so inspiring, and so breathtaking that it brought me to tears while I sat at my desk reading it. At that point, his fight was just beginning. At that point, we as a group wanted to give Oren and his family one last vacation before his treatments began. The goal was to raise $5000. As I sit here right now, we’ve raise over $35,000 for Oren and his family. If you’d like to help them, visit here.

Fast-forward to two days ago. Many of the members of the Dad Bloggers group had just returned from attending the Dad 2.0 Summit–a place where an announcement was made that the scholarship to help fund dads in need attend the summit was renamed in Oren’s name–to hear from Oren that his fight was over. There were no treatments. Chemo was doing more harm than good. This was it. Days, maybe weeks were left for him. It turned out to be five days. Oren passed on Saturday, February 28.

I’ve been sitting here since Oren broke the news to us, not knowing what to say. I’ve never met Oren Miller in my life. I’ve spoken to him online, plenty. I read his posts. He’s read mine. We’ve conversed many times in the Dad Bloggers group.

I’m filled with so much sadness for him. For his wife, Beth. For his young son and daughter. His kids are around the same age as Sophia and Maddie. Oren isn’t much older than I am. I keep trying to put myself in those shoes. And I can’t do it. The pain is difficult to fathom. Oren has seemingly handled it with such grace that it leaves me in awe. I don’t want to say goodbye. Selfishly. I don’t want to see Oren’s name stop showing up in comments. I don’t want to see the beautiful words that he writes go away.

Thank you, Oren, for starting something that means so much to so many. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it. And thank you for letting your words when you were diagnosed resonate with so many. You’re going to be missed more than words can ever describe, but the legacy and community you have built will live on forever. We’ll see to that, my friend.

I’ve Been Frozen Out

Just a small sampling of all the Frozen gifts Sophia got this year.

Just a small sampling of all the Frozen gifts Sophia got this year.

If you don’t count the million-plus times I’ve enjoyed watching been tortured with watching Disney’s Frozen, you can say that I really didn’t have that much of Frozen in my life. Yeah, Sophia had a few dolls, a dress, and couple knick-knacks, and will sing “Let it Go” for hours on end, but now things have been taken to entirely new level.

Folks, after this Christmas, I have officially been Frozen out. I’m not kidding. Like, at all. All of Sophia’s gifts were wrapped in Frozen wrapping paper. All she wanted from Santa were “an Elsa doll and an Elsa dress”. And, of course she got it, from her aunt and uncle. Did I mention that this specific dress lights up and plays “Let it Go”? Oh, I didn’t? Yeah, it does that. She wants to wear it to bed, all day long, inside, and outside. The song has played so many times that I’m ready to rip the battery out. And that’s only after two days…  Continue reading

Bruce Springsteen, Santa, and Memories of Christmases Gone By

We’ve been listening to a ton of Christmas music. As you do this time of year. Every morning and every evening, to and from daycare with the girls. Sophia sings along to the ones she knows, while Maddie taps her foot and bobs her head along to the beat.

Rudolph, Frosty, Little Drummer Boy, Last Christmas, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bell Rock. You name it, we’ve listened to it, sung along with it, and danced to it. I figured that Sophia has been listening to and singing Christmas songs at daycare, as well. The other night, she started singing Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town–which is one of my all-time favorites. Only while she sang the chorus, she sang “Santa Claus is coming to town” faster than in the classic. I said to Sarah that I thought she was singing the Bruce Springsteen version. We hadn’t heard that one in the car. So I asked her. I quickly pulled the song up on YouTube and played it. I asked her if that was the version she heard at school and was singing. She said it was! Continue reading

How Do You Know You’re a Good Parent?

I feel like the message is true. A lot.

I feel like the message is true. A lot.

How do you know that you’re a good parent? Honestly. There is not test you can take to find out if you’re doing a good job or a really terrible job. I mean, you can look at your kids, see how they act, see what they’ve learned, and take stock in that.

There are plenty of times when I look at myself as a father and think that I don’t have a damn clue what I’m doing. I feel like I’m failing my girls and not making the right choices for them–or for our family. It’s an awful way to feel. It’s not something that I want to have floating around in my head.

Outside of reading as many books on parenting as possible, reading as many parenting sites and magazines, as possible, and talking to other parents, how are we to know what is right? What’s best, breast or bottle? How long do you wait to introduce solid foods? What if I have a picky eater? My kid is being mean, not listening, and is an all-around pain in the butt, how do we fix that? What daycare is right? Am I being a helicopter parent? All these are questions and comments that have come from me or others that I know. AND WE HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO KINDERGARTEN YET! Continue reading

The Negotiator – Training for My Next Career

I don’t know about you, but my negotiation skills have been tested to the max lately. It doesn’t matter the time of day, the circumstances, or location. There is going to be some form of negotiating taking place. I’ll give Sophia credit–and probably every other kid, too–they don’t quit. They will low ball you at every turn. They play for keeps. They play dirty. I really am getting plenty of practice and on-the-job training that I have a good idea that I’d succeed–or fail miserably–in a future career as a hostage negotiator or deal-maker/breaker. One of the two.

I’m gonna talk about the two instances that are daily back-and-forths. Mealtime and bedtime. Continue reading

Damn You Teething, Damn You!

57085569Dear Sleep,

How are you, old friend? I hope life is treating you well, as I lay awake at night, readying myself for the next scream of pain coming from the room of my one-year old.

What’s the problem, you ask? Have you heard of this thing that babies do, it’s called teething? Oh you have? Good. Then you should know where I’m coming from. If you were not aware of this growing trend, where teeth fight, claw, scratch, and tear their way through the gums, I’d have to refer you to this handy illustrated guide, courtesy of my friends at How To Be A Dad.

You’d like to know what exactly happened? Well, friend that I see all too little of anymore, it’s simple really. Our youngest daughter, Maddie–she’s one now–has three of those little demon teeth pushing their way through her gentle baby-gums AT THE SAME TIME. Those demon teeth are pushing her temperature sky-high, making her uncomfortable at every turn, forcing her to scream for mercy. She just wants relief, Sleep. That’s all she wants. She wants those teeth to stop imposing their will on her gum-line. Just pop through and be done with it, demon teeth!

Let me tell you, Sleep, this whole teething thing is for the birds. Just last night was the worst we’ve experienced to this point. The clock struck 12 and the demons came to play. One whimper turned to an hour of screaming. Then to a short amount of sleep, back to an hour of screaming, back to short amount of sleep, and on and on and on it went until the wee hours of the morning. No amount of Advil or Tylenol or Ora-Jel could soothe her. Shortly before the alarm clock beeped to wake us for the day, poor little Maddie finally fell into your awaiting arms, Sleep.

One day, this whole teething world will be a thing of the past. And both my girls–as well as Sarah and I–will finally be able to re-connect with you, Sleep. It will be a joyous occasion. One where we all well-rested and free of pain and demon teeth. Until then, dear friend, rest easy and be well.

Yours in exhaustion,

Nick

SANTA! I KNOW HIM! And I Know That OTHER Santa, Too!

I didn’t think that my 3-1/2-year old daughter would be as perceptive as she is. She’s three! We did pictures with Santa last weekend. And then, did breakfast with Santa at a local church this weekend. Afterwards, Sophia informs us that “I saw two Santas!”…

 

People have told me since then, all I needed to do was tell her that those are Santa’s helpers. That Santa can’t be EVERYWHERE all the time. I get that. I could’ve done that, too.

I didn’t ask her why she thought she saw two different Santas. I mean, the answer was obvious.

One looked like the real deal.

One wore a darker suit, had a fake beard, and a wig.

OF COURSE, they looked different.

 

I guess this is a question that Sophia could ask every time we go to a different mall and see a different Santa sitting in his chair for photos. But, most of those Santas look similar enough that she doesn’t think it’s a different one. At least that’s the way I see it in my mind.

Aside from the “Santa has lots of helpers” reasoning, what ways do you explain the appearance of SO MANY SANTAS to your kids? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, and Facebook.