Saturday, January 30, 2010


We stopped by a local comic book store yesterday. My wife was actually looking for a comic book that a high school alum of hers illustrated. We picked up a couple of comic books for the boys. There are some fun, age appropriate superhero comics for children (in addition to the usual Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich).
It's a new venue for us, but it was kind of fun--we may go back every once in a while (they're monthly comics). The boys liked the shop. Wall to wall action figures and comic books. What's not to like?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Make Believe = Gender Trouble?

Today during rest time, Nils stripped down--initially to his undies, then to nothing. He's been doing this lately. He says he's dressing up as a girl (one who apparently doesn't wear anything, which makes it all the scarier). Often he's a princess and the bunkbed is a castle. He often puts a blanket over his shoulders (the one we used to swaddle him in when he was a baby that has been stretched out so much we could still swaddle him in it if we tried). Today he had on a cowboy hat. I don't know what it means. I think God wires kids to do this to keep their parents guessing.

Both he and his brother have often pretended that their "stuffies" are girls--even Nils' bear he named Bobby and Anders' bear named Tommy. Sometimes they make each other their sister (or do it voluntarily).

Before Nils was born, Anders wanted him to be a sister. Except that he got his role confused in it. When people would ask him about the impending new baby he wold tell them, "I'm going to be a big sister."

Neither of them will be getting a little sister--at least until God calls us to adopt and gives us the resources to do so. Beth will not go through another C-section again. So I guess make-believe is their realm of possibility for now. Sometimes, though, it just makes me scratch my head and wonder what's going on. But I'm a little afraid to ask.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making Mac & Cheese Edible

Until recently, only my 3-year old would eat Macaroni & Cheese. My 5-year old ate it in Canada (where it's called Kraft Dinner), but he hasn't eaten it since we moved back here almost 2 years ago. I've tried making it a lot of different ways. I came up with a mixture using canned tomatoes that had a bruschetta taste to it, I've tried salsa in it--I just haven't made it with the traditional hot dogs because he doesn't eat those, either.

The way I've managed to get all of us to eat it (even I enjoy it--heck, I'll even eat the leftovers, which leftover Mac & Cheese is usually terrible) is to add corn and broccoli to the water when I put the noodles in. (Some grated carrot could work, as well. I'm also thinking pepperoni, but haven't tried that yet.) Tastes good, plus they get some veggies in their diet.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Outings and Cars

Anders was at a friends' birthday party yesterday, so Nils and I went to the zoo. We were going to check out a Fire Station Museum, but I didn't check the hours on the library I was planning on getting passes from. It was closed. It wouldn't have mattered, because I discovered a few hours later that I didn't have my wallet which had my library card (as well as my driver's license--but we won't mention that). We only had a short time there, but we saw just about everything. It was a wet, rainy day, but there was still a lot of traffic there. Just because I think it's humorous, I'm including this next picture. You can maybe see the feet of a gorilla sleeping in the right side of the picture; on the left side is a giant plastic pickle for the gorillas to play with. Quite the life.

It's been a weekend of dropping Beth off at work in the morning so we can have the car. Anders didn't have school on Friday, so I took the boys to a play time under a dome in nearby Plymouth. They had a few large inflatables and other things to play with; we took a picnic lunch and were there for a few hours.

Yesterday, we needed to take Anders to the birthday party, so we needed the car for that. And today Beth was working, so we needed the car to get to church. I was thanking of taking the boys to the Rock the Cradle concert today, but I decided that with all the running the last two days that we needed to be home today (the dishes were piling up a little). Thankfully she hasn't worked terribly early on any of the mornings, so the boys haven't missed out on too much sleep.

We can't afford another car, but it would be nice a lot of the time. There's a bus line near us, but it isn't always convenient to go to the places we want to go. For now, we move our schedule around for taking Beth to and from work when we need a car. That's not very often. Sometimes I feel like I'm causing the boys to miss out on things, but I also need to remember that they're getting a lot of opportunities that they wouldn't get if we lived other places. So I'm grateful for the opportunities we are able to take.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On Ice

Before my wife went to work this afternoon, we took the boys ice skating at a rink near us. This is Nils' first winter on ice skates. He's taking to it quite well. We didn't get out much last winter, but Anders is remembering what to do. If he holds on to a chair, he can zoom across the rink.

My wife grew up on a lake, skating between her father's legs when she was little. I'm envious of her skills. I didn't have those opportunities. I'm glad our boys are able to have them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

House Dad on A Prairie Home Companion

If you caught A Prairie Home Companion on NPR this last week, you may have heard a humorous song by Garrison Keillor about the plight of a stay-at-home dad. If not, be sure to check out The Only Living House Dad in Eau Claire.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dad's Group

My local stay-at-home dad's group meets today. I don't get there very often--mainly because we just have one car. My wife doesn't usually work until Wednesday afternoons, so Wednesday mornings are my main access to the car. That's when I can do errands, get groceries, take the kids to the doctor, etc. And some days Nils just wants to go to story time at the library.

During the winter the group meets at the local rec. center which puts toys and inflatable bouncers in a room. They open it three days a week for a couple hours for "Tot Time." It's an open group. There are plenty of moms with their kids there. But for once I'm not out of place as a dad. There are several others (depending on the week up to a dozen or so) with whom I can talk. It's a good deal for only $2. Some dads even show up without having kids to bring just for the fellowship.

If you've got a group that meets in your area, by all means, check it out. If not, consider getting something going. It's a great opportunity to get out of the house, let your kids meet some new friends, and have some adult conversation. Not to mention, developing friendships for yourself and having others who understand what you're going through.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Swimming Lessons

Anders started swimming lessons today. We'd been wanting to for a while, but there were plenty of logistics that just didn't come together. But a friend is letting us borrow a car and we went with the cheaper lessons at the colder pool, so it came together. We had practiced some in the lakes when we were swimming this summer, but that wasn't often as it was a cooler summer.

But learning to swimming is kind of a must in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. And it's a skill we want him to have--and that he wants to have as well, which is just as important. The hard part was having making his little brother sit on the sidelines and watch--he just couldn't understand why we were going to a pool and he wasn't bringing his swimsuit with him. Maybe the next session . . .

Friday, January 8, 2010


It's getting be that the amounts of food I usually make for lunches isn't enough anymore. I don't have this problem with supper--I usually make it a larger meal so that we have leftovers, and I'm not as particular about catering supper to the boy's tastes as much. One can of spaghetti-o's isn't enough for Anders anymore--let alone for Nils to have some. I can't wait until they're teenagers (oops, was I being sarcastic?). At least they're eating. Maybe this will help me with portion control for myself a little more.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Anders, our 5-year old, had a dentist appointment today. It was to take care of the cavity they discovered a few weeks ago. It's kind of crushing for me to hear that. He does brush twice a day. And we have very little sugar around the house--seriously, we still have candy corn around from Halloween. Unless we've made some cookies, they tend not to eat too much (out of sight, out of mind).

Part of the issue is that his teeth re close together and I'm terrible at flossing. But I'm much better now. We've got some of that fluoride rinse, too. We used to get it in school when I was little. The school nurse would bring it into the classroom once a week. So we've stepped up our cavity prevention around the house. Just brushing and cutting down on sugar isn't enough.

At least it wasn't a traumatic experience for him. Even an hour later, he's still fairly giddy from the nitrous oxide. My wife said he was laughing at everything going on while he was with the dentist. And he's playing with the fake plastic teeth he picked as his "prize." Right now he's Shrek--or some other ogre--trying to kiss me with ugly purple teeth.

Here's to good dental health!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beef Noodle Bowl

I just located this recipe in Kraft's Food & Family magazine; it's been a family favorite.

8 oz. linguine
3 c broccoli
3 medium carrots, peeled & sliced
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb. beef sirloin steak, cut in strips
1/4 c zesty Italian dressing
1/4 c teriyaki sauce
1 tsp ground ginger

Cook pasta as directed, adding broccoli & carrots during the last 2 minutes of the cooking time Drain.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add meat; cook until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally.
Stir in dressing, teriyaki and ginger; cook until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
Toss pasta & meat mixtures in a large serving bowl.

For added crunch, top with peanuts.

Kid-Friendly Wraps

I'm all about cheap meals made with things we usually have around the house. We had these wraps for lunch today.


1 package tortillas (the smaller size ones are better--I end up cutting the full-size ones in half for my kids)
lunch meat
string cheese
other fillings: shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes (or salsa or spaghetti sauce depending on how messy you want it to be), black olives, sprouts, etc. (the more veggies you can sneak in, the better, in my opinion)

Spread hummus lightly on a tortilla (you could use other things like mayo, of course, but hummus is healthier and adds a nice flavor, plus it holds things together).
Thinly layer veggies on the tortilla.
Wrap lunch meat around the string cheese (you won't need to use a lot of meat, since the humus has protein as well; I also cut the string cheese in half lengthwise).
Lay string cheese & meat on one end of tortilla, then roll it all up. Use a toothpick to keep it together if needed.

My 3-year old ate several bites and then started picking out what he preferred (but most of it was eaten); the 5-year old ate it all. Fill it with what they like, but don't hesitate to sneak in less-flavorful veggies to increase the nutrition in it. There are a lot of flavor options for hummus out there (even at Aldi, where I pick up mine). My kids probably wouldn't eat it on a cracker, but they didn't notice it in the wrap (actually, my 3-year old thought it was peanut butter). It's worth a try if your kids haven't had it before.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Big Losers & Responsibility

I heard today of a former contestant from The Biggest Loser who had gained back a lot of his weight. His wife was blaming the show for not doing enough follow-up. It's a bit ridiculous to me. After all, they do train you on the show how to eat more healthy, how to set up an exercise regimen and how to deal with some of the issues that lead up to obesity. Let's take some responsibility.

I guess this hit home because we've been dealing with this around our house. Anders has a huge tendency to blame others. Today he was even blaming Nils because Anders was taking so long on the toilet. Nils was distracting him. Let me repeat that: it was Nils' fault that Anders was taking so long on the toilet. Ownership of actions is not his strength. We've been working on changing that--but it's taking a while to change a whole thought pattern.

And I'm the one to blame. I'm taking ownership of it, too. I've been that child my whole life. I've had trouble taking ownership of my actions. A lot of it is rooted in insecurities. I don't like not being liked. So I deflect blame. I don't own up. I'm still working on that. I'm getting better, but there's some way to go. And hopefully, my son will join me in the journey.

Monday, January 4, 2010


My boys are experts at finding ways to hurt themselves. And if Children's Protective Services is reading this, I'm a good dad. Really. I watch them constantly. But I only have to turn my head and one of them (usually the 3 year-old) finds a way to get hurt. A couple summers ago, Anders was playing on a play structure at the nature center and backed into the hole for climbing down the ladder. The 8-ft. ladder. He had a good-sized bump protruding from the back of his head. I had biked over with the boys. There wasn't an easy (or cheap) way to get him to the doctor if I needed to (which, thankfully, I didn't). I was paranoid the whole way home that he was going to have a concussion or something.

Our most recent one was when the 3 year-old had pulled himself up on the sink to wash his hands (translate: play in the water) after sitting on the toilet. He's at that independent stage where he doesn't tell us when he's going and doesn't want us to be there. Anyway, he had pulled himself up on the sink sans pants (which he always takes off when he sits on the toilet). And apparently he slipped. And cut his boy part on the hand of the cabinet under the sink. The screaming was what alerted me that he was in the bathroom and needed help. It was a bit too painful for me to look at. I grabbed a wet cloth and put it on his crotch to clean off the blood. Thankfully, my wife was on the way home from work. It had stopped bleeding by the time she was home. We called the nurses' hotline to see if we should take him in. They said it was a good idea just to make sure there wasn't any damage or risk of infection. The good news was that all was okay. It's an area that heals quickly. And hopefully he won't be too scarred by the experience.

That's a short tale of some of their accidents. They happen almost daily. One bonks his head on his table. Another runs across the apartment and slips, banging his chin on the coffee table. Bonk is common word in our house. So is "boo-boo buddy" and "ooma kiss" (what Nils called the kiss we would put on his owies when he was little).

I think some kids are just more accident prone. It's also a good sign that they're active. I'm not going to coddle them and try to protect them their whole life. I want to try to teach them to explore and have fun safely. And accidents will always happen. No matter how careful you are, they will occur. But I'll be their for my boys, offering compassion and a hug. And an ooma kiss when needed.