Category: Parenting

A Moment In Time Coming of Age Dads Parenting Sons

Winter Stars

10298900_10152461131596349_2506598118229131661_nWhen I got home last night, the kids were already in bed. It was about 8:30pm and Val told me that she thought Connor was still awake so I headed upstairs to check and hopefully be able to say good night.

I walked into his darkened room quietly so as to not wake him if he were in fact asleep.

“Hi Daddy.”

“Hi Buddy. Why are you still awake?”

“Sometimes when you aren’t home I have a hard time falling asleep.”

“Well I’m here now so it’s time to hit the sack my little friend.”

He protested mildly with “But it’s so hot in here.”

It was pretty warm outside so his room was a sweatbox. He’s the type of kid who’s always hot even if it’s 62 degrees in his room.

“Why don’t we open the windows for a few minutes and look at the stars?” I offered.

He jumped out of bed and knelt on the floor next to me. We opened the window and rested our crossed arms on the windowsill with our heads poking out into the night sky.

It was very quiet.

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“Look at all those stars Daddy. How many are there?

“A lot. But see that one there? The really bright one? Notice how it doesn’t twinkle? That’s because it’s a planet!! “

“Wow! Really? So I just saw a planet?”

“Yup, you did.”

There was a long pause as we both stared up at the stars from the window of his second story bedroom window. He eventually rested his head against my shoulder.

“Look at that star Daddy!! It’s blinking blue!”

“That’s an airplane Connor.”

He laughed heartily.

“I wish I had a flashlight right now so I could shine it up to the sky. A flashlight that had wings and could fly up to the stars! That would be so cool.”

“That would be cool. When I was a kid, I always had a flashlight next to my bed just like you do, although it didn’t have wings. But when you wake up in the morning you’ll be 6 years old! Maybe you’ll get a new flashlight as a present.

“Grandpa Bob is getting me a wheel barrow.”

“Oh, ok.”

We sat in silence for several minutes staring at the winter sky and Connor’s head resting against my shoulder now with his arm entwined with mine.

“I love you Daddy.”

“I love you too buddy. Happy almost birthday.”

Giggle

“Tickle Fight!!” he exclaimed.

“Tomorrow buddy. Tomorrow when you’re 6.”

“Is tomorrow a Dude Day?” He asked excitedly.

“No, tomorrow is a school day but it’s also your birthday!!”

“Ok, good night Daddy.”

“Good night Connor. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Dads Parenting Relationships Top Posts Twins

46 things I wish I knew as an expectant father

When I first became a dad, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing or what I was in for. In fact, there are some who would argue I’m not in a better place now after 7 1/2 years either but that’s another story altogether and for another time.

Having your first child (or children in my case) is as overwhelming as it is exciting. There is no rule or instruction book that comes with each baby. And while most of parenting comes from trial and error and is customized to each wonderfully unique baby, there are some things that I wish I had known back then that would have spared me some anxiety and growing pains.

So I offer to you 46 morsels of expectant dad advice that hopefully will keep you just a little bit more sane than you may have been without it.

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  1. Get a Peepee Teepee. Once you become an expert, you can just toss a wipe over it to block any unexpected geysers.
  2. Do NOT register for a bottle warmer. They are completely useless. Use a bowl of hot water from the tap and drop the bottle in it for a few minutes.
  3. You probably don’t need a portable changing pad. You’ll get so good and fast at changing a diaper it falls under the 10 second rule.
  4. I’ve said it before but two words: Amazon Prime – diapers and wipes automatically delivered to your door.
  5. The Good Night Light: if you ever want to sleep past sunrise, invest in Mr. Sunshine and Mr. Moon.
  6. Feed twins at the same time. If one is sleeping and the other wakes up to eat, wake the other one up even if you have to open the window in the middle of a polar vortex. Multi-tasking is your friend.
  7. Accept that fact that changing a #2 diaper will never be perfect – there are just far too many belly folds and hiding places.
  8. Stick to a schedule no matter what. It just might save your life and your marriage.
  9. If you’re traveling, only book direct flights even if it costs you your second child. There is no room for error here.
  10. Alternate feedings with your wife or significant other. At least that will usually give you each a 4 hour block of continuous sleep if you’re lucky.
  11. Always book early morning doctor visits so you don’t end up sitting in the diseased waiting room for hours with little Johnny.
  12. Wipe warmers are a complete waste of money. And all they do is dry out the wipes so you end up with a brittle dry napkin. Plus, a cold wipe just might jolt them enough to keep them awake for that feeding!
  13. Accept the fact now that you will be overly exposed to all kinds of bodily fluids from little people. And you won’t even care.
  14. Vomit will not phase you.
  15. Never burp a baby without a burp cloth on your shoulder especially when dressed for work.
  16. Skip the Diaper Genie. Simply wrap and tie the dirty diaper in a plastic bag from the grocery store and drop it in the kitchen trash barrel. Yes, for the sake of sanity, you must forgo being ‘green’ for that short time in your diaper-changing life.
  17. Sleep is a luxury you cannot afford right now.
  18. Learn to sleep when they sleep no matter what time it is. Seriously, even if you can close your eyes for 20 minutes on the couch, do it.
  19. Don’t switch them to a bed until they ask to do so or until they are unsafe in a crib (we used a crib tent until little Houdini escaped.)
  20. Don’t keep a newborn in your room for too long. Move them into their own room before they get comfortable in yours.
  21. Don’t let them sleep overnight in your bed. Trust me on this. For SO many reasons. Just don’t do it even though you think it will help you get more sleep – it won’t. It won’t help with your marriage either.
  22. Baby proof your house BEFORE the baby comes home. And then invite friends/family over with small kids and see if they can hack into your cabinets or break the gate open at the top of your stairs. Hopefully not!
  23. DON’T FORGET TO ADD THE BABY TO YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE IMMEDIATELY! In fact, do it the day they are born to be safe! Just call your insurance company and have the baby added. Think of it as your first duty as a dad! This can save you a huge headache down the road.
  24. If your can afford it, bank their cord blood.
  25. Put your gym membership on hold for a couple of months if it’s allowed. You won’t be going for a while.
  26. Start asking your friends, family, and neighbors about a babysitter… it will take months, if not at least a year, before you find someone you trust enough to take care of your little angel.
  27. Be sensitive to your wife’s moods and feelings. Her body just went through the apocalypse so if she seems a little testy or emotional, cut her some slack.
  28. Take paternity leave!! Preferably right away so you too can bond with the baby as well as your wife (or S.O.)! Take the time to work together to figure out a routine that works for your newly expanded family. Some of those late night, sleep-deprived conversations that you’ll have together are priceless.
  29. Learn to swaddle a baby.
  30. Learn to make high-pitched sounds and funny faces. You won’t even care who’s watching if it makes your baby smile.
  31. Always keep a backup pacifier in your pocket.
  32. Post pictures and updates on your Facebook page or blog so people won’t keep asking “How are you doing? Do you have any pictures?” over and over again. They mean well but it can be overwhelming after a while when you’re working on 3 hours sleep and have vomit on your shoulder.
  33. Get them into the water (bathtub, sink, pool). It will help them immensely in so many ways. Skip the beach for a while. Between the sand, the blazing sun, and the waves, you might want to wait until they are a little older before hitting Crane Beach.
  34. Get a baby swing. It may have saved my life.
  35. Get a jumperoo thingy.
  36. Those crib mobiles actually worked for us. Wind ‘em up and the awe commences.
  37. Let the dog be part of the new family. Bring home some used baby blankets from the hospital before you bring your baby home if you can. Let the dog smell them and get used to the smells. When the baby comes home, introduce the two in a safe way. A face lick won’t hurt and they usually love it! Remember, the dog needs some time to adjust too with all the attention now being redirected to the new smelly and loud blob in the corner.
  38. Make room in the freezer for all the breast milk that is about to be pumped. A LOT of room.
  39. Clearly label the breast milk. You’ll make that mistake once.
  40. With that laptop on your belly late at night posting pictures of your new angel, open up a 529 account before it becomes one of those things you keep meaning to do but never actually do.
  41. Hunker down for a while at home especially in winter. You don’t want to expose your new baby to harmful germs if you can help it. It’s only temporary and you really just want to give them some time to get in a groove before subjecting them to the perpetual cold that they will get soon enough.
  42. Remember your wife. Remind her that she’s beautiful and you love her. She may not feel it right now and you saying it will make her feel better even though she’ll deny it.
  43. Don’t just take pictures, take video too. And write. Looking back, it’s one of the things I most cherish about that time.
  44. Both you and your wife are tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, and have no idea what you are doing yet. Be patient with each other. Learn together. Nobody has all the answers and every kid is different.
  45. Growing pains are real so when the little guy wakes up saying his legs hurt in the middle of the night (6 times), don’t discount his pain.
  46. Above all, remember… this is just a phase.

Hang on tightly. It’s the scariest, but most beautiful, ride you’ll ever take.

What tips do you have for the new Dad (or Mom!)?

Kip can be reached at kipdurney@gmail.com or on Twitter @kipdurney

A Moment In Time Life Parenting Teachable Moments

Kids Can Change the World

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Change. Some of us embrace it while others fear it. Change comes easily for some but for others, it’s a slow and painful process. Generally speaking, kids do better with change. More importantly, kids want to and believe they can change the world.

I recently asked a group of kids the following:

1. If you could DO anything in the world right now, what would it be?
2. If you could CHANGE anything in the world, what would that be?

Their responses were insightful and heartfelt (and often funny!):

Haley age 7:
1. Have a sleepover
2. I would take seizures away from all the kids who have them (Awwww)

Emily age 12 (Haley’s big sister):
1. Get rid of all sickness (see a theme here)
2. Change mean people so that there is only kindness

Ava (Zoe’s twin) age 7:
1. Go out to dinner
2. I don’t know.

Zoe (Ava’s twin) age 7:
1. Go out to dinner
2. I don’t know.

Connor age 5:
1. Go to the beach and swim in the ocean with Nannie
2. I would make it my birthday

Meredith age 12:
1. Eat because I’m starving!
2. World hunger and the Taliban

Thomas age 8:
1. Get rich and spend all the money
2. I honestly don’t know

David age 10:
1. Gaining magical powers and buy 10 pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts hash browns
2. No bad people

Sean age 10:
1. Go skiing
2. No one would be homeless anymore

Kyrie age 9:
1. Go to an imaginary world that I make up in my mind
2. I would change global warming because it’s making all the glaciers fall down and soon it will endanger the animals that live on them or near them. I would also change the way people treat animals so they don’t get abused anymore… those commercials make me sad!

Kaylee age 6:
1. Gymnastics
2. No more bad guys

Alex age 4:
1. I would have a race with all of my friends
2. I would change all of the cars in the world so that they were all the color blue! And be able to make force fields and turn myself into metal.

Shannon age 14:
1. Go on a trip without a destination in mind – just see where I land
2. Change people who use stereotypes and who have a closed mind and aren’t open to anything different.

Erin age 10:
1. Stop child abuse and animal abuse
2. Eliminate war

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Jake age 10:
1. I would become a billionaire and give it all to charity
2. I would take away all the bad drugs so that people don’t get addicted and ruin their lives

Brendan age 13:
1. Go to bed
2. For me to be the best in the world at everything

Devin age 8:
1. Go to Disneyland
2. Change bad people

Patrick age 5:
1. Go somewhere I could be surrounded by a million dogs
2. Change everyone in the world so they could have fun together… With dogs!

Riley age 5:
1. Go to Disney World
2. Make bedtime later

Rory age 3 (Riley’s little brother):
1. Go to Disney World
2. Make bedtime later

Elisabeth age 9:
1. I would cast a magic spell for peace, but I know it’s impossible. (Then asked which is impossible? She said “both”)
2. I would change people who commit crimes

Thorsten age 8:
1. Play chess
2. Make it so nobody would die

Sabina age 6:
1. Coloring
2. Make all the wounded animals into unwounded animals

Dominic age 9:
1. Go out and play a game
2. Be the best person I can be

Mia age 8:
1. Adopt all the homeless cats
2. Make smoking against the law

Matty age 12:
1. Go teach dance classes
2. Eliminate disabilities for those that suffer them

Parker age 12:
1. Go to an LSU baseball game
2. Be a professional baseball player

Ella age 9:
1. Be at an arcade
2. That people could fly

Avery age 7:
1. Ride a horse
2. Make fairies be everywhere you are

Catherine age 9:
1. Ride a horse.
2. Make our family last week’s big Powerball winner instead of the folks in CA

Patrick age 16:
1. Film a blockbuster, Oscar nominated movie
2. Bring back a friend who died over the weekend

Kylie age 7:
1. Go to Arizona and enjoy the sun and visit our cousins
2. Make my sister not have Celiac disease so she can eat everything again

Graeme age 13:
1. Play baseball in the MLB
2. World peace

Griffin age 16:
1. Cure cancer
2. To be Spanish

We all have dreams and we all want to change things for the better. But making tangible and widespread change has historically been a daunting task and extremely difficult to accomplish – particularly on a national or global scale. We’ve always had the will, the desire, and the passion for positive change but we’ve never had the tools, the influence, the platform, or the financial backing.

Until now.

Today, we have a number of innovative and powerful tools in our arsenal to help and guide our children in truly changing the world. Two of the most powerful being the Internet itself which has completely revolutionized the global impact of modern reform campaigns and the global reach of social media. Together, they represent opportunity and the what-ifs that were almost unfathomable even just a decade ago.

The questions I asked those kids were purposefully challenging and open-ended because it made them think about what they actually wanted for themselves and what they didn’t want anymore (what did they want to change). At least that was my goal anyway. The more those lines are blurred, the more likely they are to believe in themselves and their own influence to make a positive and purposeful impact on our world. More than any other time in our history, the ability and potential for the next generation to alter the global landscape in terms of poverty and wealth, politics, human rights, climate change, human and animal rights, health, education, arts, science, technology and basic human compassion is unparalleled.

These kids have the passion for change even though many of them are only just beginning to understand that they can have an impact even at such a young age. We have built the tools and the platform for them to realize that change. Organizations and people likeChange Heroes and Taylor Conroy are not only inspiring our children (and us!) to dream big and make an impact but, even more importantly, they have also built the tools to be successful and to make their work and their passion for change impactful. They are actually building schools in Africa! How cool is that?

For our children, their time is now. And it’s our time to continue to support and reinforce the fact that they really can, and will, make a world of difference.

Dream. Inspire. Build. Change the world.

Let’s do this.

Kip can be reached at kipdurney@gmail.com or on Twitter @kipdurney.

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Humor Parenting sports

Be good parents: brainwash

As parents, it is our job to protect, educate, and provide the tools necessary for our children in order for them to thrive and develop their own ideas, desires, and opinions. We do what we can to not just give the answers they so desperately seek, but rather to provide them with a path to find out for themselves.

Except when it comes to football.

As good parents, it is our job to unabashedly brainwash our children into thinking – knowing – that the Patriots are the center of their world and to support and cheer for them always. And of course, to buy all the swag their allowance will afford them.

It is our job to teach them that the color blue is always better than orange. Who would willingly wear an orange shirt? Oh, that’s right. She would.

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A Confused Mom

How is a child supposed to thrive with a mom who would wear such a thing? Granted, she got the number correct but failed miserably on the color which obviously should be blue. She of course is a great mom and loves her children immensely. But when it comes to her color choices, she falls short.

Makes you wonder: did dad know about this flaw before he popped the question?

In any case, it’s these types of mixed messages sent by parents that are causing our younger generation to be so confused, so tainted, and so devoid of any sense of hope for the future. We don’t want these kids to be the kind that leaves toothpaste all over the sink, pees on the seat, or wears orange.

It’s not their fault. We must help them become blue.

How is a child supposed to thrive in a family such as this?

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A Divided Family

What’s a kid to do? Do I go blue? Orange? Dad says blue but mom says orange and I don’t want to disappoint either of them. It is this type of psychological torture that inflicts so many young innocent minds. They need our help.

Let us stand together today to put a stop to this nonsense. Let’s stand together to send a clear message that nobody should wear orange and nobody should ever have to live in a home with orange lovers.

The blue, the proud, the obnoxious and brainwashed Patriots fans of the future!! Together we stand!

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Brainwashed Children

Be good parents and brainwash your children.

And of course: Go Patriots!

A Moment In Time Coming of Age Dads Daughters Parenting Top Posts

Open letter to my daughters

A&Z,

I have sat down for the past several months trying to write this letter to you both but have not been able to find the words. I wrote Open Letter to My Son with relative ease so I have been perplexed as to why I have had such a hard time writing to you.

Until today.

You both are the miracles that almost never came true; your births embody the best and worst moment of my life. I was forever changed that day, in both good ways and bad, but I’m realizing now that my consternation in writing to you is that I’m afraid of coming up short because you deserve nothing but the best.

By the time you read this, you’ll be old enough and experienced enough to know that I’m not perfect. What I hope you glean from all of this is the understanding that while the doctors and nurses may have saved your lives, you two are the shooting stars that saved my life.

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But that is a story for another day.

As you two grow older, wiser, and ever more beautiful, I have come to the realization that you were put in my life to show me another way and to teach me what’s important in life. Sons and daughters are different in so many ways. I, for the most part, understand your brother. I guess it’s a guy thing. You on the other hand, often perplex me and teach me ways to look at even the mundane in another light.

You surprise me everyday.

I find it hard to think about you growing up and one day, moving on to live your own lives in college or elsewhere and beyond. I want so much to protect you, hold you, and keep you close. But of course I know the day will come when that room upstairs will empty out and you’ll be off to find yourself – to explore, learn, love, and experience.

Before you leave, I offer you the following suggestions for living a purposeful, fulfilling, and adventurous life as well as some things that I want you to know about me:

1. First and foremost, you will always be daddy’s little girl. I will always see you as that shooting star, cradled in my arms. Just accept it.
2. I maintain an irrational but tangible fear of not being able to always keep you safe. And because that’s my job, it keeps me up at night even now when you’re only 7. So when you get older, remember that dear old dad is worried about you so call him and let him know you’re ok.
3. My only wish for you is for you to be happy. If you have that, everything else falls into place.
4. We make our own destinies; don’t wait for it to happen because it won’t and you’ll look back wondering where you went wrong. Take risks, explore, learn, and call your father when you get home.
5. You are beautiful inside and out. Don’t let the media, people, or yourself make you feel differently.
6. When you were 6, I started to take you both out on dinner dates alone. I’ve never felt such pride and happiness during those dinners. I hope that when you’re 36, we’re still making time for each other.
7. Never let anyone treat you as anything less than the smart, beautiful, and funny girls you are. Love and be loved but don’t accept anything less.
8. Zoe – I always loved playing soccer with you on the front lawn and the day you innocently explained to me what the middle finger meant. Good stuff.
9. Ava – I melted the day you said to me, “Daddy – I wrote this story about a puppy just like you write stories on your computer.”
10. Remember to always speak up, speak your mind, but be respectful of other opinions. Be heard.
11. You matter. When you’re feeling down or defeated, call me. I’ll always be there for you even if it’s just for a cup of coffee and a shoulder to lean on.
12. Never settle.
13. Trust, but verify. In love and life.
14. Like I told your brother, I’m sorry for the days that I yelled at you for something I’m sure wasn’t important. I can honestly say, I tried my best to be a good parent but sometimes I fell short and that’s not your fault.
15. I’m probably never going to like your boyfriends. You should just accept that because I’m having a hard time just talking about it now.
16. If you get in trouble, I will be the first one at your side to help you, make sure you’re safe, and then ground you for a month.
17. Of course, get a puppy.
18. At some point in your life, live alone. Bask in the time spent with ‘you.’ But know that you can always come home for any reason. Keep the key.
19. Read. And continue to write your stories.
20. When you look back at your baby pictures, just remember that I did my best with those hair thingys. And if you are not home by curfew with that new boyfriend, I’ll show him the pictures!
21. Learn to ski, snowboard, or go hiking. Being on top of a mountain on a sunny crisp day will be some of the most magical moments of your life.
22. Always come home for the holidays.
23. You can always curl up with Dad on the couch no matter how old you are.

When you were born, they told us that you might very well not make it through the night. But you did. Embrace the gift you have been given and live YOUR life. Choose to be happy and always remember that we love you, unconditionally.

PS: Don’t forget: Dinner at 8 with Dad on Thursday night. See you then.