Oh NO – The “No” Phase Has Begun

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:

dikembo gif

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.

db no

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.

 

tina gif

Or how about this one:

stop it

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…

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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.

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

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.