Friday, March 27, 2009


Earlier this week I was gone for three nights from my kids (4 really, since they were already asleep when I got home on the forth day). It was the first time I've been away since taking on this at-home-dad role (the place I was at during that time kept referring to me as a house-husband). When I found out I had to go away for several days, my first fear was how to make it happen. I knew my wife couldn't take time off, we can't really afford to put them in day care right now and we don't really have a strong baby-sitting system around us yet. Thankfully, my father was able to come up during my time away.

And things ran smoothly, of course. Not that there was worry of that. I'm a little more aware of the need to make sure the boys understand that the way I expect them to behave with me is how I expect them to behave with other adults (whether it be my wife, grandparents, teachers or whoever). It's good to know everything can keep running while I'm away. It's also good to know I'm needed and missed.

The main goal of parenting, from my perspective, of course, is to train your children up in the way they should go, so to speak. For them to be able to do well in life on their own without having to constantly be parented. (For our family, their is a religious element of trying to raise them to be able to follow God whole-heartedly.) I guess being away was a good reminder of that, that the boys can obey, do the right thing and have fun when I'm not around.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good-bye Nap Time; Good-bye Sanity?

Our 2-year-old hasn't been napping this week. I'm fearing that he's at the end of his time when he will take a nap. He did get a couple naps in when we were in the car, but he hasn't slept in his bed. And being a one car family, it's not practical to do nap time while driving every day. It used to work that if I sat in his doorway and made sure that he stayed still in his bed, he would eventually fall asleep. That's not working anymore. Our 4-year-old hasn't taken naps for a while, but he's been good about playing by himself in a "quiet time."

I depend on nap time/quiet time for having a little time for myself each day. It's when I get some spiritual growth time in and call some friends. If the nap goes long enough, I can get a few household chores done as well. I'm hoping this is a short phase and we'll get back into the nap routine soon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Favorite Outing: The Nature Center

Yesterday the boys and I walked over to our local Nature Center (Westwood Hills). I love that our weather has been nice enough lately to walk several blocks (we only have one car, so most days I can only travel by foot or bike which isn't very fun in the winter).Our Nature Center is a good outing. Even though their building is small, the boys can spend a lot of time in there. They like to look at the live animals (snakes, turtles, salamanders, toads, etc.), stuffed animals, touch the hands on exhibits, play the games, read books, play with puppets, etc. They even have backpacks stuffed with theme-related (mammals, birds, trees, etc.) materials: books, CDs, binoculars, games, etc., that you can check out for a week.

They have to spend time on the playground before we leave. But we usually go to hike and explore. Even in the winter, there are new things to discover and lessons to learn. Tracks in the snow, tapping the maple trees for sap, seeing the apiary, looking for birds and other animals--even just the fresh air and exercise is good. Especially when we're surrounded by buildings and concrete, it's very refreshing to to be surrounded by trees and "wilderness" for a short time. It seems to refresh the boys some, too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Craft Time

In the cheap craft section at Michael's I've found a couple decent craft projects for the boys for just $1. There's a few different models out there, apparently. I've only found a couple planes and a bird house, but the box shows boats and other things.

They're pretty simple. They just get glued together. The boys paint the glue on the spots needed; I assemble (though our 4-year-old can do most of the assembly quite well). The instructions aren't great, but this isn't rocket science. It comes with 4 different colors for painting.

Check those out if there's a Michael's craft store near you. I don't think they keep them in stock all the time, but I've found them on a couple occasions. They're good for nearly an hour of entertainment.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Our 4-year-old has a tendency to throw tantrums when we're going to go somewhere--usually somewhere fun, even--like the zoo. It's as if we're taking him to get an arsenal of shots at the doctor or something. We even let him know: "We're going somewhere fun. You've been there before; you've liked it. We're not sneaking in a trip to the place where they kill puppies just to be mean. We're trying to do a fun outing."

We don't put up with tantrums. Never have, never will. If he throws one when we're trying to go somewhere or do something that will end up being a fun outing, he gets a time out as soon as we get home.

Today, it was for going to the library. He and his brother both enjoy the library. There are puzzles, hand puppets and, of course, plenty of books. But he would not get his shoes or coat on to go. He ended up with the time out when we got home as well as having some of his favorite toys in time out for a few days. I hate dragging him out of our apartment kicking and screaming, but that seems like the only option unless we just don't go anywhere. And, of course, he ended up enjoying the time at the library.

As much as we've emphasized (and our kids do understand) that we don't put up with tantrums and that tantrums don't accomplish anything (except a timeout or missing out on something fun), the kids still throw them (even the 2-year-old is beginning to try them out). They have been getting better since we've implemented the after-we-return-home-you-will-have-a-time-out punishment. I just wish they'd stop all together. Someday? Soon?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

School Bound

We found out today where our 4-year-old will be going to school. When I grew up, open enrollment wasn't even a choice yet. We had one school in our small town which housed Kindergarten through 12th Grade. Everyone went there.

Our son has choices. We haven't even looked outside the district--which would be an option if we wanted to peruse it. We didn't pursue it--mainly because we only have one car, so trying to get him to school each day would be a hassle at best. Plus we were happy with the choices we have at hand.

Just within our school district there is a Spanish immersion school along with the regular school--both of which seem to be high quality. We got our letter from the Spanish immersion school today. Our son is number 43 on the waiting list. So that makes the decision early for us. The regular public school option is a good choice--I saw plenty of good things there at the parent's meeting last fall. It's just a half day (the Spanish immersion school is full day), which will probably be okay for him.

It's certainly going to change dynamics around the house. For one thing, our 2-year-old and I won't be able to wander far for outings because I have to be present when the bus drops the 4-year-old off after school. That's going to mean I have to be a little more coordinated with my daily schedules.

I think the 4-year-old is ready (he'll be 5 this summer). We've been working on writing, reading and counting at home. I'm a big proponent of education beginning at home--that it's not fully the school's responsibility. I think he's feeling a little scared though. He has no reason to be. Hopefully the kindergarten roundup in a couple weeks will ease any fears he has.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finding Myself At Home

It was about a year ago where a lot of changes in our family's life took place and I found myself staying at home to take care of our boys (who are now 2 & 4 1/2). My wife and I wrestled with the idea for a while. She was interested in having a shot at a career, but wasn't sure if it was best for us all if I was at home. At the same time, she was struggling with being home all the time and I was having a hard time finding work. So we finally decided to go for it.

I'm not a stay-at-home dad (as tends to be the more acceptable title among dads) because we can afford it. Doing this is a sacrifice for our boys. It doesn't make any sense for us to be living on one income right now. But it didn't make sense for us to use a second income to pay for day care bills. And it's been our priority to raise our kids--and not put that responsibility on someone else. (I know that not everyone feels this way or can make the sacrifices to do this--it was our personal decision).

So I find myself at home. In a small apartment. With no second vehicle. And two small, energetic boys. And I love it. Most days. And it is a sacrifice. But it's been worth it.

So, from here on out, I'm here to share my thoughts & reflections on being a stay-at-home dad. And hopefully offer some support and encouragement to other dads. And be a place where we can have some good discussions and sharing. Whatever you need. Let me know.