Hello Strangers Please Excuse the Screaming in the Background

now-panic-cause-i-m-back-9It’s been about a year and a half since my last post. I know…I’m the worst blogger in history. So many of you expressed how much you like reading what I do here and I rewarded those kind words by doing nothing. There are plenty of excuses, but at the top of the list is exhaustion. When I had time to myself, the decision came down to crashing on the couch or writing a blog entry. I chose the couch…over, and over, and over, and over again.

But I really do love writing and it is something I wanted to get back to, so here I am.

It’s been so long I don’t even know where to start. Ava is 3 1/2 years old and Vinny will be 2 this April. Lot of things have happened in the time since we last caught up: Trips, boo-boos, potty training, first this or first that, holidays, activities, and so on.

Over that time, however, one thing sticks out the most and that’s how my sweet, angelic, 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 year old children get along. I wish watching them interact was like watching a Hallmark movie. That on the very odd occasion when they didn’t get along, they would quickly hug and make-up while soft, Full House-esque music played in the air.

But that’s not reality. I’m not going to to be that parent. You know the one…the one you hate of Facebook. The one that posts nothing but pictures of her kids hugging and playing nice with captions that say, “Love is all we need” or some other shit that makes you want to puke all over your iPad.

They are all liars. Nobody’s kids are that perfect, and if they are then they’re weirdos. These are the types of people where you make sure to “hide” their posts from your timeline. What a great feature the ‘hide’ button is. That way you don’t have to de-friend them and then deal with having that inevitable, awkward conversation as you run into them coming out of some yogurt shop and you just know all they are thinking about, as they talk to you about the three birthday parties they have to go to tomorrow, is how much they despise you for de-friending them. It’s a bit of a catch-22. If you never hid their posts in the first place, you would have known to stay away from that area all together because of the dozen or so images they posted on Facebook about what a “chocolate coated, sprinkle covered sweet time” they just had.

No. That’s not my kids. My kids are the type of kids where if I get an important call at home, I need to literally leave the house so they are not heard screaming in the background.

It’s not that my kids hate each other, or that they are bad kids, or anything else like that. In reality, my kids are damn good kids. They hug and kiss each other. They play and dance together. All that good stuff. The problem is just that they are kids. Does that makes sense? It’s like dealing with two cavemen sometimes. All their yelling and bickering comes down to the usual “That’s mine”, “He bit me”, or “Mom’s not looking so I’ll push him off the couch and it will be funny” type stuff.

The problem is that we as parents try to use a rational, win-win explanation when dealing with these situations, and the kids are still very in touch with their animal brain and are just like, “…but that’s my Little Pony and he touched it, so I made him regret that decision.”

It’s all very territorial. Outside of the house, Ava will be perfect with Vinny. They don’t see what they are playing with as his or hers, so they just play with whatever they find. Outside of the house, Ava will demolish and crush the soul of any other kid who even comes close to doing anything bad to Vinny. Outside the house, they stick close together and watch out for each other.

jurassicpark-gateInside the house is different. Passing through our door is like passing through those big gates of Jurassic Park. It’s always calm at first, but it’s only a matter of time until the screaming starts.

Inside the house, they know exactly what is “theirs”, where it is at, and how many of it they have. If the other touches “it”, looks at “it”, takes a piece of “it”, or goes near “it”, that’s when Michelle and I get the SWAT gear on. It’s like the house is a giant game of Risk. They each have their own territories (their rooms, where they put their toys, etc.) and they then test the boarders of the other’s territory to see if they can successfully invaded and conquer. Predictably war breaks out and Michelle and I are stuck being the U.N., saying things like, “Why are you guys going to war over this? There is a simple, peaceful outcome.”

We do the time-outs and explain how to share and all that. And it is getting better as they get older. It makes you a bit conflicted because there is such a fine line. You want them to learn to share and play nice, however, boundaries need to be set and they need to know that it isn’t OK to just take anything you want at any time.

It really is one of the more shitty parts of parenting. The really bad part is that when I see or hear about other people’s kids doing the same stuff, it really makes me happy. At least mt kids aren’t some psychotic oddballs.

Ok. That’s it for now. Talk to you later…I promise.

Showtime

bask_83daddysdiaperdutyThe day is rapidly approaching when Michelle will be heading back to work and I will be watching the kids all by my lonesome a couple of days during the week.

This thought frightens me. And not in the “man this is going to make me tired” kind of way, but in the “I hope all three of us will survive this” kind of way.

The simple fact is that I’m out-numbered. The two of them can do some serious physical, collateral and mental damage. The crying, the whining, the pouting, the shouting, the fussiness, the gassyness, the getting into things, the mess making, and the toy taking. And that’s all before 10:00 am.

When I was home with Ava, I had a nice little game plan I followed and it worked pretty well. It went as follows: Up no later than 8:00 am, breakfast, get her dressed, let her play/watch TV as I showered and got ready (less than 10 minutes), Out the door around 10:00 am to run errands/go to a story-time/visit the animals in South Park/play-date, Lunch, Milk ready and have Ava fall asleep on the way back home around 12:30 pm, Nap until around 2:00-2:30 pm (3:00-3:30 pm if I was lucky), Snack and some Mickey on TV, Structured playtime, Mommy back in the door around 4:30. Worked like a charm, however, I’m afraid this same schedule just won’t work for her now as it did six months ago.

Also, Vinny is now in the mix and he tends to do things at inopportune times. For example, when I’m trying to check out somewhere or trying to wrangle Ava, he’ll decide then is a good time to start whaling and demand to be held…or he needs a bottle…or have an explosive poop…or spit up all over the place.

The possibility of them both cooperating at the same time and at the exact moments I need them too is slimmer than an anorexic coke addict. So what can I do? I can prepare. I essentially plan on having a dad utility belt, or more accurately, a pair of dad utility shorts made from my cargo shorts.

I of course will always have the Vera Bradley diaper bag with me. No need to try to find a “manlier” bag because, frankly, I don’t give a shit. I came to this conclusion during my first stint of stay-at-home dad life. I quickly realized function comes ahead of caring what idiots thought. “Aren’t you afraid of looking gay,” some dull, dim-whited moron may inquire. “No” I would say, “I have this bag right now because I had sex with a woman and impregnated her. That’s the furthest thing from being gay I can think of. What I would be afraid of is looking like a dim-whited morn like yourself.” At that point I would sling my Vera Bradley over my shoulder, flip my hair back, give him a snap or two, and grab the stroller and walk away as sassy as humanly possible.

Anyway, I will have the Vera Bradley which will be filled with all your standard baby-bag fare. However, there are several items I will always have at the ready in one of the many, and may I add roomy, pockets of my cargo shorts. The include: At least 1 diaper per kid, a baggy of wipes, a sippy cup for Ava, snacks for Ava, a fresh onesie for Vinny, a change of shorts for Ava, a little toy or two for Ava, and a cloth towel. All those things I just named are things I figure I would need at a moments notice to take care of one of the five C’s at any time.

What are the five C’s you are wondering? They are as follows: clean, change, calm, comfort, and content. With those items at the ready in my side pockets, I can draw from them as fast as a gun-fighter to take care of any of the five C’s.

Poopy diaper? Boom!…diapers and wipes. Spit up all over shirt or pee through diaper? Pow!…new onesie or shorts. Ava over tired and cranky? Bam!…here’s a juice and a snack. Not working? Whap!…here’s a toy, enjoy yourself.

Blink of an eye fast. Super dad. Faster than a speeding two-year old. Stronger than a gassy infant. That’s how I roll. “Look over there! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s a guy sporting a designer bag, a double stroller and cargo shorts that are bursting at the seams.”

I am very aware though that Ava is the wildcard in all this. Vinny can just cry and poop, but he is contained. He’s not mobile yet. As long as I can block out his screams long enough to still function, I can get through. Ava, though, is the pro at chaos. She can do any number of things to make me look stupid and make my day a living hell. She can scratch and hit Vinny in the car. She can throw tantrums. She can run off while I am attending to Vinny or have my hands full. She can destroy stores (boy can she destroy). Plus about four dozen other behaviors that have been known to start wars.

With all that being said, the truth is I’m looking forward to it. Yes it will be tough and aggravating, and I will want to jump off the roof at times. But, some of the more recent great days I have had were ones I spend with just me and Ava. That time together really, truly bonded us. I’m looking to get that with Vinny. Plus, when I was home with Ava, it was during the winter/early spring months and we couldn’t do much outside. This time it will be late summer/fall, and baby, that time of year is right in my wheel-house.

Plus, I will have them just two days of the week by myself. I can survive that. Right? Can’t be that bad. Right? After all, they’re just kids. Right? How bad can they be? Oh, right. Terribly bad.

Its Been Two Years

1078908_983696732285_2126030471_oAs of late July I have officially been a dad for two years. It feels longer.

My life prior to Ava and Vinny seems so distant. Who I was, what I did, my attitude, my personality, my hobbies – pretty much everything about me – seems like a different life. Having Vinny has only brought me (us) deeper down the rabbit hole as my memories of pre-fatherhood Mike are disappearing faster than a cake at fat-camp.

But you already know what I’m going to say next. “…but I love my kids. Wouldn’t give them up for anything.” Most parents always say it after they bitch about their kids or reminisce about their glory days (cue Bruce Springsteen in your head). They tag it on there so they don’t look like selfish, unloving people. I truly mean it though…honestly…no, really…seriously…stop thinking that…I REALLY mean it!

Yes, I do miss a bit being able to go any place, any time I/we wanted (movies, day trips, sporting events, concerts, restaurants, bars, etc.). I do miss the extra money we had. I do miss the large amounts of peace and quiet that filled the house at any time.

But you know what? I say screw that shit. It’s for the birds. Michelle and I discussed it just the other day. We had extra money and we spent it on shit. We would go out and shop because we were essentially bored and had the money on hand. So we bought a bunch of things we didn’t need and that just cluttered the house. In retrospect we could have saved better, but we were in our early to mid-twenties and were stupid about money then.

Screw bars and restaurants. Nine dollar beers taste like piss and if you spend $28 on an entree it shouldn’t be able to fit in the palm of your hand. Now that we have kids, the times we do get to go to these places actually is more special. We appreciate the time more. We appreciate our time together more.

Don’t screw sporting events. I like them and I like taking my kids to them even more. I look forward to answering their questions and teaching them about the game. “Daddy, why did that man elbow that other man in the face?” “Because honey, that bad man took a shot at Crosby and he should have known better.”

Screw concerts. I hate crowds. I hate noise. I hate high school kids who just started listening to the band last week and dance like idiots in their hippy wannabe outfits. Plus the record sounds better and I don’t want to hear any new material. New material sucks, just play the songs that got me to buy this ticket.

And I can go on and on, but you get the gist of it. I never was one for the single life or the party scene. Neither was Michelle. That’s why when we started dating we both knew we for sure wanted kids. So we got what we asked for. Making them was fun. Having them around can be fun, lots of times it’s not. I will say this, however, I am amazed on a daily basis.

Take Ava for instance. Just turned two and she is already able to count up to 10, recognize and understand many different shapes, colors, objects, and people. She is able to talk in sentences and hold simple conversations. She is able to do things, something new each day I feel, that we don’t remember ever teaching her or showing her. She is figuring out things on her own. At this point I’m bragging, I know, but I am honestly flat-out amazed at her development. It blows my mind.

I’m no expert, but when I was two I would bet I couldn’t do half those things.

Vinny is following suit. He is just over three months old and is already able to roll over, grab at things, has had full control of his head since month one, can stand while we hold him and responds to people and other stimuli. That doesn’t sound like much, but for three months it ain’t bad at all. Once again I’m bragging, but this is my blog and my kids, so it’s what I tend to do.

These past two years have been the hardest of my life. Because with kids, you don’t just deal with kid problems. We have also dealt with money issues, job issues, house issues, and relationship issues. All either directly or indirectly related to our new life of parenthood.

These past two years have also been the most rewarding. My kids have made me a better person. They have bonded Michelle and I in a way we never imagined. They make me laugh on a daily basis. I am playing with toys again, which is awesome. Time away from my family is almost physically painful. At work, all I think about is going home to them. Seeing their faces. Giving kisses and hugs. Cuddling in bed. Watching them play. I can’t tell you how great it feels walking through the door and hearing Ava announce that “Daddy’s home!” or “It’s daddy!”.

All that other stuff prior to the kids was just a way to kill time. Something to distract you. At least it was for me, to each their own. Kids are the real thing. They make me feel fulfilled. I look at them and I know I did something right, something good. Something to be proud of.

I will leave you with this. Do you want to know what the best feeling in the world is (besides the baby making feeling)? The best feeling is knowing your kids look to you for things such as guidance, protection, love, and approval. That feeling when something scares them, they come running to your arms, because to them you are the only one in the world who can protect them. Because you’re Dad or Mom, and you can take care of anything, especially the scary things and you will always make everything alright.

The Penis Situation

try-to-change-diaper-pee-all-over-the-placeAll those feminists were right after all. Penises (peni?) are bad!

I’ve had one of my own for as long as I can remember. I have always looked at it fondly. Now I look at it and think, “This damn thing was a hazard 29 years ago.”

Sorry mom.

Changing a diaper can be a very different experience depending on what type of plumbing you’re working with. Girls have nice interior plumbing. It’s contained, well-organized and makes for an easier clean-up for both number ones and number twos. Boys have exposed plumbing. It’s out there, it’s unpredictable and it has a tendency to spring leaks.

As long as you have the baby girl on a changing pad, there is little risk to you. Worst case scenario is that a little pee drips on the pad. No big deal. Throw that bad boy in the wash and that’s the extent of your clean-up. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

Boys? You have to be faster than a NASCAR pit crew. You have to have all your tools (wipes, bags, towels, diaper, clothes) at the ready. There is no time to leave him exposed. No time to double-back for something. It’s a ticking time bomb. You can’t hesitate. You need to get in and get out, fast.

You also need to face the facts. If you have a boy, you will get peed on. Let me say that again so it sinks in. If you have a boy you WILL get peed on. Your only hope is that he doesn’t get you in the face. Oh he can. Don’t think boys don’t have range. Vinny has mad range. He seems to be able to pee farther than Tom Brady can throw a football. From his changing table he can easily hit the wall that is at least four or so feet away. I’ve seen it spray up past Michelle’s head. So pee in the mouth or in the eye or up the nose is a very real, and very disturbing, possibility.

It’s also very unpredictable. It doesn’t just spray in one direction. If you duck the first pee arc, you’re not out of the woods yet. It acts sort of like a out-of-control fire hose, just whipping around to and fro.

Your best bet to stay dry once the levies break is to run out of the room and let it happen. Come back when it’s over and assess the mess and clean-up. You’re going to be cleaning up pee regardless, so you might as well do it without being peed on first.

But we parents of male babies don’t run for it. No we don’t. What do we do instead? We hold out our hands and try to catch/deflect the pee. All that does is create more splash. The only good thing about that tactic is that chances are the baby will get some pee back splash as well. I know that sounds mean, but screw him, if you’re going to be covered in pee, he should be too. You’re wiping him down anyway, so what’s a few extra wipe sheets?

Also, it’s not just the range and unpredictability of the pee, it’s the volume. Even though you may be changing a full diaper, there is always plenty more at the ready. It’s never just a quick gush of pee that squirts out. No, no, no. It’s a damn geyser. A mass volume of warm,  yellow liquid.

Vinny’s latest pee shooting came after a nice long ‘draught’. He went weeks without making us into human urinals. I guess he was waiting for us to let our guard down because it was also his worst pee episode to date.

Michelle was changing him on the couch (Michelle is usually the main victim) and I was in the kitchen (I am usually in the kitchen). I hear screams of “oh my God!”,  “Oh no!”, “Make it stop!” and come running in. Michelle is in full pee deflection mode as I throw a towel over the offending area.

My efforts were too little, too late. Michelle was drenched. The couch was drenched. Frasier too caught some splash. Pee was everywhere. On toys, on pillows, on clothes, on the rug and just all over the couch. Vinny managed to actually pee behind himself. We had to actually shampoo the couch. There were puddles. Michelle was covered up to her neck. She never stood a chance.

Vinny could offer no condolences and only gave a small grin. Impressive? Yes, but heartless to say the least.

Before Vinny was born, Michelle and I were buying some baby boy things. You know, preparing for his arrival. We came across a product called the PeePee TeePee. It states on the package, “Just place a pee-pee teepee on his wee-wee during diaper changes, and the hazard is averted.”

We laughed, put it back and moved on. We said to each other, “What type of loser parent would use that? You would probably be one of those weirdo, over-protective types.” We still wouldn’t buy them (why pay for something that a hand towel can do), but we now understand why there is the need for them.

Like most parents, we learned that lesson the hard way.

A Birthday Poem From Daddy

Ava, my little girl, you’re the glimmer of my eye. The cherry on my sundae, the blue in my sky.

The days come and go, the minutes tick away. Each day you grow and grow, my baby you won’t stay.

And so today you turn two, a concept hard to comprehend. I remember the first time I held you, knowing you were a gift only God could send.

I’m your father and I promise to always be by your side. I’ll be there when you fall and I’ll stay until the tears subside.

I’ll be there to cheer every time you succeed. I’ll hoot and howler and embarrass you, always the loudest parent  indeed.

I’ll teach you to hit  a ball and how to ride a bike. I’ll tuck you in bed and scare the Bogey-man away at night.

I’ll make sure you have memories as fond as fond can be. They’ll be of laughter and love and silliness, oh, and many trips to the sea.

I am your bodyguard, your chef, your teacher too. Anything I do is never too much for you.

For you always won’t be so small, you’re growing bigger each day. I just won’t always be there to keep the bad away.

I can only hope I raise you to be strong, independent and smart. Teach you to do what you love and not be afraid to show a little heart.

It makes me both happy and sad to watch you grow older. To watch you grow stronger. To watch you grow bolder.

As you grow into a young-lady I may seem more and more protective. It’s just when it comes to boys I want you to be very selective.

I promise to always do the best for you, and I will do it gladly.  Because you gave me the best gift of all, you made me into a daddy.

I love you sweetheart.  Happy birthday my little lass.

From,

Daddy

Ava Dropped Her First F Bomb

peter-billingsley-soapOops! My bad. This one’s on me.

It happened. It was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s just that sooner came too soon. With about two weeks to go until her 2nd birthday, Ava dropped an F-bomb after hearing me drop one.

I can only blame myself. No excuses. However, in my defense, it was only out of frustration that it slipped out. By “slipped out” I mean I screamed it pretty loud. I can’t even remember what it was that I was doing, but it wasn’t going smoothly and I was annoyed…and tired…and emotional…and it was just a combination of things and that thing I was doing was just the final straw type thing…and the Pirates lost the day before…and I was just feeling blah. No excuses though, but, you know, I was pretty tired and just, you know, life’s just a real pain in the ass, sum-ma-bitch sometimes. No excuses though.

It was a hard “fuck” too. One of my better ones. It was more like, “FUUUUUUCK!!!”.  I really hit the ‘K’ part nicely as well, with real emphasis. Really brought it home with that hard ‘K’. It was the cherry on top of the cuss. Really showed I meant it.

Admittedly, I do swear a lot. The problem is I don’t do it for vulgarity’s sake. I do it for emphasis. To really drive my point home. It’s just that I seem to be driving a lot of points home every other sentence.  I’m pretty good at swearing. It’s more of an art when I do it. I use different combinations that can really cut to the core of a subject. It can get real creative. Make a sentence stand-out and be fun. Make my point memorable.

For example, when someone is really annoying me or putting me in a tough spot, I don’t say, “So and so is really getting on my nerves.” Instead I will say, “So and so is really putting my fucking balls through the wood chipper.” See? Isn’t that fun to hear?

So, moments after I dropped the F-bomb that shook the walls, Ava throws her hands in the air and shouts “fuck”. Granted, it was the cutest “fuck” ever uttered. It was delicate and gentle. I don’t even think she put the ‘K’ on there, it was just a little baby “fuc”. Very cute. It was like the fresh offspring of my papa bear “FUUUUUUCK!” So tiny. So delicate. So much potential. It was so non-threatening that a “damn” or a “heck” could beat it up.

The moment it came out of her mouth I thought, ‘Well there’s a piece of innocence she’ll never get back.” Michelle and I looked at each other, thinking the same thought…”Did she just say what I think she said?”

Vinny’s eyed widened a bit as it happened.  Even he knew I hit a parenting low. He just laid there, drooling as he secretly judged me. Questioning the father his mother chose for him. If he could talk I imaged him adding, “Well there goes the ‘Father-of-the-Year’ award. Job well done with that. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for me.”

Michelle and I handled it the best way possible. No reaction. No correction. Just act like it didn’t happen. If we gave a reaction or corrected her?  Game over.  At that point Ava would know she can egg us on by saying it, and it becomes a fun game for her to play…over and over and over. I just immediately switched gears and drew her attention to something else, hopefully making her forget what just happened and what she said.

It seems to of worked. She has yet to say it again. I learned the hard way that Ava has reached the parrot stage of childhood, where she will repeat anything and everything.

I have been really watching my P’s and Q’s now, but mostly my “fucks”. If I feel I really need to swear, I will employ the Bernie Meyer favorite, “Mother Huncher”. I will also use “Cheese and Rice”, “Cotten-headed Ninny Muggins”, “Sugar Sticks”, “Dab-nabbit”, “Son of a Biscuit”, “Jesus H. Son-of-Mary”, “Sweet Fancy Moses” and if I’m feeling a little worldly I might just break out a “Bloody.”

I just can’t wait when she is 16 and she says a nice combination of cuss words. I will no doubt give the typical, “Hey, where did you learn to talk like that?” And we will both sit there staring at each other, with my hypocrisy just laying out there, both knowing damn, errrr, darn well where she learned it from.

Vinny has Gas and Ava Has a Drinking Problem

1048206_966456297255_1550188454_oI love my boy. He’s handsome. He’s got a dapper smile. And I’m pretty sure he has a genius level intellect. No. I’m positive he is a genius…just like his sister…and me…and Frasier…okay, and Michelle too. Just look at him, lady killer just like his daddy.

However, there is one issue. The kid has more gas than BP. And it smells worse than a middle eastern restaurant.

Ava would give toots and we would all laugh and smile. They were cute. Didn’t smell. Didn’t linger. Just a little toot coming out to say “hello”. Ava’s toots still don’t smell, and she is two! Vinny on the other hand could knock out a horse.

Since he was born, his bum and its releases have been an issue. They smell so bad that you would bet your life that he has poo in his diaper, but no, just another rancid ripper. They linger too. Oh good lord how they linger. They are like a fat kid at the sundae bar. They just keep hanging around and won’t go away.

The dumb male in me, meaning the part of me that still makes plenty of use of the reptile brain, is somewhat proud. I know when he is in high school and if he is still able to peel the paint off the wall with one bum burp, he will have lots of laughs with his friends.

I also look forward to when people are holding him and they say, “Oh my, someone gave a little rumble.” I wait for the few moments after that for them to get smacked in the face by his mustard gas.

It’s so bad, even Frasier seems bothered by it. Though, as a typical guy, there is nothing quite like the look of relief/pride he sometimes gives after a real screamer comes out. That’s when I just look at him and give a little wink, and with no words being said, we connect as father and son on a level that him and Michelle never can. Two reptile brains understanding the joy and comfort of really letting one rip. And then basking in the smell of your own repulsiveness.

Vinny is well on his way to becoming a man, one toot at a time.

Let’s switch gears over to Ava and something that I am not so proud about. Last weekend we attended a great summer party thrown by Jim and Diane Duff. There was swimming and games for the kids. A nice fire at night. Lots of food and drink. Basically,  a party we always look forward to.

As we are sitting around the patio table, eating, talking and enjoying the Jell-O shots that were graciously prepared by our hosts. Ava was trotting around the yard and deck, being a kid, enjoying herself. Ava then spotted one of her favorite food groups, gelatin desert. Everyone else was enjoying the colorful wigglers, so she decided she should too.

Michelle was busy with Vinny, and I was busy shoving food down my gullet, so we didn’t see Ava’s little paw reach up and grab a Jell-O shot. She grabbed an orange one…peach schnapps.

Then just as I was swallowing my third helping of buffalo chicken dip, I heard someone say, “Oh no, what does Ava have?”

Without looking I knew exactly what she had. It was the same thing I said to myself I should move away from the edge of the table so Ava doesn’t grab one. I didn’t do it though because just as that thought was going through my mind I spotted the buffalo chicken dip.

Luckily, she didn’t actually eat any of the Jell-O. Just a couple licks. I like to look at it as a blessing in disguise. Ava went to bed a lot easier that night.

Also, due to the buffalo chicken dip, Vinny and I had some father/son bonding that night by making the house a quarantined, bio-hazard area.

Man to Man Coverage

168287_938361674105_1300389748_nHaving a kid is tough. No doubt. It’s rewarding for sure, but man is it tough.

Having two kids, especially ones who are close in age, is at times downright torture.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. Very much so. I love being a dad. No regrets. It’s just a real motherf#%ker some times dealing with them. That’s all.  Most parents can relate.

That’s why when it comes to raising kids, you really need to approach it as a team. I have no idea how single parents do it. I don’t even want to. There are two of us and it still takes a whole bunch of game-planning.

When we had just Ava, we were able to both attack her and have her in a 2-on-1 double-coverage. If I failed my defensive assignment, Michelle would be there to recover for me. It was nice having that security and Ava usually never stood a chance. Though she could at times break coverage with her heart-melting skills.

Then Vinny came along. Double coverage was no longer an option. We had to reevaluate our game plan. The choice was obvious, we had to convert to man-to-man coverage. For the most part, Michelle has Vinny and I cover Ava. Pretty favorable match-ups.

However, switching to man-coverage makes things a little tougher. I no longer can completely depend on Michelle to cover for me if I faulter in my D. If Ava shakes me off, Michelle is left covering 1-on-2, and that is a recipe for defeat. Granted, Michelle has the skills and ability to pull it off. She does every time I go to work. However, I’m worried about her working too hard and going on the DL.  Everyday when I come home from work, I make sure to come in as relief, but most days she doesn’t want to come out of the game.

Michelle is a star. A five-tool player who can excel at any position. She’s the type of talent that makes her teammates look better. I am the Kunitz to her Crosby. The Pippen to her Jordan. The Rob Brown to her Lemiuex. She is the face of the franchise and we have her signed on a long-term contract.

After two months, we have adjusted pretty well using the man-to-man. Defensive lapses are few and far between. The problem is what do we do if/when a third offensive threat comes? The obvious answer is that we have to drop into zone-coverage. Forget man-to-man. We’ll just have to let the kid’s roam free and take care of them when they come into our coverage area. Hopefully by then, Ava will be older and we can recruit her on to our side. Not sure of our cap space, but I think we can offer her an allowance that may tempt her to make a move.

At night is when our defensive scheme gets tricky. That’s when Michelle and I have to go into press coverage. Dinner, baths and bed time is a stress. Vinny isn’t as bad at this time and Michelle usually neutralizes him. Ava is where our best efforts are focused. After she eats and gets bathed, she usually tries to pull an audible to stay up. Michelle and I, after months of conditioning, take on her best efforts and are usually successful getting her to bed with an all-out blitz package on our part.

I guess covering the kids now is the easy part. It’s when they’re teenagers that things will get real tough. We are only getting older and they will be in their prime. I’m afraid of them outrunning our coverage. Hopefully, we’ll raise them that we all end up on the same team by then. If not, I guess I’ll have to start with steroid injections to keep up. Anyone know Bonds’ number?

Boy Oh Boy

920412_10201223895218405_1464215657_oHello! Remember me?

I’m the dad that used to be just a guy and decided to write a blog about it. I did real good there for a while too. I was posting a bunch, people were reading a bunch. I wrote more, people gave more positive feedback. It’s like I was a real writer. Then life said, “Hey! Here’s more stuff.” And I was like, “I’ll write a new post tomorrow.” Then tomorrow turned into the next day, and then the next day, and so on and so on. This happened for roughly three months. So real quick, sorry for the three-month layoff. New job + new baby = no posts.

But that ends now and so, after much pressure from my readers who made themselves very vocal recently and laid guilt trips on me about neglecting Vinny by not writing about him, here we go…for real this time…honestly…really…I know I said that before baby, but I mean it this time…I’ve changed, I promise…I’ll never treat you like that again…you know that’s not me when I get like that.

OK. Vinny. In short, he’s big. Came out 9 pounds, 5 ounces. Michelle had a C-section with him due to her needing one to deliver Ava. When the delivering doctor went to take him out, she needed to stand on a stole to get extra leverage to lift him out. I’ll never forget her words when she finally hoisted him out, “He looks like a one month old baby!”

Born April 26th, today Vinny is exactly two months old. He is over 13 pounds and is long. Michelle is currently dressing him in six month clothing. Now, he isn’t rotund. He’s more just solid, very dense for sure. Durable. I feel I can drop him a few times without doing any real damage. The jump in clothing size is due mainly to his length. Vinny never had that ‘Caution: tiny baby, easily breakable’ feel to him. From day one he was a tank.

With Vinny, I got exactly what I wanted. I got the same thing as I got with Ava. A beautiful, healthy baby. I get annoyed when people say, “You got your boy, I bet you’re happy.” Fact is I always just prayed for a healthy child. That’s it. That was my one request to God. I mean, I can fulfill my life’s missed accomplishments through Ava just as much as I can Vinny. Easy.

However, there was one part of me that was hoping for a boy. That part was my dad. As the only Viola boy, it was up to me to keep the name going for another generation. My uncle only had girls. I was pretty much the last of the male Viola’s in my family, not counting some random distant relative who I have no idea even exists. I was like The Last of the Mohicans. So at the reveal cake cutting, when that cake turned out to be blue inside, my father gave a big sigh of relief. I was relieved as well, but instead of a sigh, something else came out. I believe I said so eloquently, “My d$%k made another d#%k!” A true poet.

I’m sorry I have no exciting story about the trip to the hospital like I do with Ava’s birth. Since Michelle had a scheduled C-section, it was pretty routine (easy for me to say). No fumbling around looking for my shoes. No forgetting to grab bags. No rushing. No nothing. The only odd moment came when they saw on Michelle’s medical history that she was prescribed a certain medicine when she developed an odd rash early in her pregnancy. It was the same type of medicine they prescribe for someone with herpes. So when they asked her if she ever had any STDs, she answered “No”. Then they came back, took me out of the room, and asked her again, because obviously she was lying and didn’t want to say anything in front of me and let me know she cheated on me and got herpes. Serves her right. The sad part is they probably did that because that scenario probably happens a lot.

Anyway, the stay in the hospital was great. The doctors and nurses were the best. Michelle had a little bit of an easier recovery (yet again, easy for me to say). I had to sleep on a recliner…I’ve slept on worse. Michelle ordered chicken fingers for every meal, apparently they received 4 out of 5 clucks on her chicken finger meter. I only left her side once in order to go to a Penguins game, but I left after the second period because I’m a loving father and husband dammit! It was the least I could do. “Okay honey, I’m off to the game with the guys. If you need anything just page a nurse, that’s what their there for. Let me know if Vinny does anything cute, but only call in between periods. I don’t want to seem rude and be on the phone during game play. Oh, and if you get lonely or bored, here’s a book to read. Yeah, it’s the phone book, but that’s all I can find. Okay? Great! See ya!”

And now the pictures (and feel free to share this blog with friends)….

473056_10201209832426844_1585666537_o 901163_10201209829586773_1536069382_o 964538_10201365021346470_1648061203_o 967236_10201341668122654_345179570_o 485579_10201209833226864_244640114_n  466643_10201176049862301_1853631786_o  465938_10201209816746452_1869280284_o(1) 394438_10201261907608691_1818829610_n 163569_10201209836906956_856410494_n

The Shoes Make The Girl

883368_10200898854852599_192162994_oAnother sign that Ava is growing up faster than I would like has occurred. Her Pumas, I’m sad to say, have been shelved.

They were her signature look. No matter what she was wearing, be it a sporty outfit or some cute girly number, the Pumas were on. They added panache and attitude to any ensemble. When anyone would see or meet her, it usually went something like this, “Oh, she is so cute…and look at those little shoes. Oh my gosh.”

Ava learned to walk in those shoes. They were a Christmas present from Frasier. He saved up all his pennies so he could afford them. He got a real good deal. Now I need to figure out what to do with them. Should I bronze them? Hang them from my rear view? Have Ava sign them and then enclose them in glass? If I enclose them in glass and Ava developes my sense of humor, I can see her showing them off when she is older and quoting Forrest Gump, “Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere.”

I’ve tried to find another pair of Pumas for her, but no go. Couldn’t find a similar pair. All others seem to be fugly looking or they cost waaaaaaaay too much. So Frasier got her a pair of Nikes last Christmas. He says he got another good deal, but I’m starting to think these things are falling off the back of trucks. Frasier has been hanging out with a lot of Pit Bulls and Rottweilers lately, and one real ratty looking chihuahua that’s missing an ear and most of its hair. A real shady crew that I’m not too happy about. Anyway, the Nikes have a real fly look, but they still aren’t her Pumas. Oh well, they were nice while they lasted.

In other news, Vinny will be here in less than six weeks. Just the thought of it makes me want to crap my pants. This pregnancy flew. Though I know Michelle is more than ready to have this kid makes his grand entrance. At this point Michelle would be more comfortable wearing a wool jacket at the beach while wearing shoes made of barbed wire. We are pretty sure Vinny is going to be a biggins.

The clock is also ticking of finishing their rooms. Ava’s big girl room is essentially finished. We just need to put the finishing touches on the decorating. Vinny’s room is what still needs the bulk of the work. I plan on knocking most the work out this weekend. Ain’t no thang but a chicken wing on a string.

I am also very excited about the double stroller we bought. We got it at the Snuggle Bugs consignment sale. We also sold some items so we could shop before the general public is allowed, a perk for those who participate in the sale. When we got there was a bit of a line waiting to get in. It felt like black Friday. While waiting in line, I was game planning and seeing who I might have to knock over and who I might have to stay away from (some of these women looked rough). As we entered I ran over to the strollers and quickly realized two things. Number one, no one else was really going for the strollers. And number two, I was the only one running. Either way, mission accomplished. We got a great stroller in new condition and saved around $150. F*#k yeah! As a parent, I found that what I get excited about now has changed.

This thing is a beauty. Fully loaded. A true family cruiser. It is also a bit of a boat as it is a front and back double stroller. Because of its length and black and white color scheme, I have officially dubbed it “The Caddy”. I’m going to have to get a Cadillac emblem to stick on the front.

A father’s job is never done.