Monday, March 29, 2010

Second Vehicle

Right now the boys and I are in Iowa. My wife is on her way back home. We were able to purchase my parents old vehicle from them.

We haven't been able to afford a second car for a while. And I haven't totally wanted one, either. There are plenty more financial concerns with them: more gas, insurance, maintenance, license fees, etc. And being able to bike is more environmental, cheaper and it gives me much needed exercise.

At the same time, we live in an area where there isn't much that's accessible to me by bike: mainly a variety of parks. The boys miss out on getting to some events, museums and activites (like swim lessons) unless we can schedule them when my wife isn't missing.

So, I'm still going to try and bike as much as possible, but I'm also going to take advantage of the situation. Like this week, the boys and I are able to see my grandmothers and their cousins while Anders is having Spring Break. And there may be some extra camping trips this summer . . .

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Noises from the boys' bedroom:

Anders: I didn't do it.
Nils: I didn't do it.
Anders: Stop repeating everything I say.
Nils: Stop repeating everything I say.
Anders: Dad!
Nils: Dad!

I think we've had a few conversations (and even a devotion one night) about how we can stop quarrels by saying something nice or just keeping our mouth shut. Maybe someday that will set in . . .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Jungle Messiah

Anders: Daddy, I think Tarzan is half-like Jesus.
Me: How so?
Anders: Well, he helps people like Jesus.
Me: So, is Batman half-like Jesus?
Anders: No.
Me: But Batman helps people.
Anders: But he's like a bat.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Does the Surgeon General Know about This?

The boys and I picked up a DVD of Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s. We've been watching "Yogi's Gang", "Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan", "Scooby-Doo" and others. Currently the Mystery Inc. gang is working with the Harlem Globetrotters to solve a mystery. Classic.

I noticed this warning on the DVD case: "Saturday Morning Cartoons - The 1970s is Intended for the Adult Collector and is Not Suitable for Children." This warning had me puzzled. 1: I don't know why they insisted on capitalizing most words. 2: What makes the cartoons of the 1970s (the very ones I grew up on) not suitable for children? Seriously. If you can explain it to me, I'd like to know.

Monday, March 22, 2010


* We have a winner! Keep checking back for the next giveaway: a cookbook from Red Gold Tomatoes!

I was recently sent a large tin filled filled with products from Red Gold tomatoes. And by a large tin, I mean a large tin (see comparison picture with regular cans of tomatoes).

I love tomatoes. Of course, like any person with taste buds, I prefer home-grown, off the vine, garden tomatoes. But those aren't available year round. So, for much of the year, I'm forced to use "fake" tomatoes from the grocery store (you know the ones--they're only slightly red and have no taste) or canned tomatoes. For most recipes, canned tomatoes make sense. And if I'm going to use canned ones, I'm going to use ones with flavor. And Red Gold delivered.

The tin contained some items which I'm passing on to you, my good readers. The first is for a red Red Gold tote bag, handy for taking with for groceries or other shopping. To enter, just post a comment (make sure you're signed in with google or that you include a way for me to contact you). One post per person. Posts must be made by noon on Friday, March 26. I'll be picking a post using And stay posted. Giveaway #2 will be coming soon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Moustache

Anders had a good mustache going after his grape juice at breakfast this morning (I didn't think to grab the camera at the time). At one point, I looked at him and though, "Egad, he's going to be a teenager before I know it." I also thought, "I hope he's not one of those teenagers that sports a mustache early."

I think one of the hardest parts of parenting is seeing your children grow up. I miss being able to hold the boys and get cuddles back (it still happens, just not as much). It's probably hardest because we realize our own immortality through it--and that we're moving toward it quicker than we'd like.

Of course, seeing children grow up is also the best part of parenting. You get to see them learn new things, explore the world, be creative, come up with new ideas. You get to see all the tiring work and discipline you poured into them come to fruition (hopefully!).

So, somewhere in my mid-forties, I'll have teenagers. Maybe they'll have mustaches (I couldn't grow a good one until after college, though). Mostly, I hope, they're turning into fine young men with strong moral fiber.

Time will tell. Until then, we can only keep plugging away, teaching them what the right path is (and that, for the most part, there is a wrong and right path) and lovingly disciplining them, correcting their path when needed. Patience is a virtue . . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


My 3-year old is showing an outbreak of zits. Egad. I hope the teenage years aren't starting this early.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On His Own

This week I've started watching my niece again (she's around 18 months now--which is fun since she's started communicating and is able to do more things since she was with us last). As I was putting her and Nils down for naps/rest time this afternoon, I got a text from Anders' classmate's mom. She was wondering if he could come over and play with her son. They only live around the corner and down the street. But that street doesn't have cross-streets, so it's probably 2 to 3 blocks from us. Small blocks, mind you, but the point is they're not just right next door.

I wasn't going to wake my niece up and get everyone dressed up to go for a walk. So I let my 5-year old walk their by himself. To be fair, I went with him out of the apartment and down to the corner where he had to cross over (I wasn't out of the apartment for more than 2 minutes). I reminded him of the things he needs to be mindful of while walking down the road (and to have good manners while he is there). Then I watched him go off.

I've been realizing that I can either be overly protective of my children or I can go to the other extreme of being to lax in their boundaries. I probably end up being too lax at times if anything. But for the most part, I strive to be in the middle. I hope to give my children freedom--to explore, to succeed, to fail, to learn, to have fun--while letting them know the boundaries and expectations they need to work within. I try to give them responsibility rather than free-reign. So, while it's a little scary letting him walk down the road for the first time by himself, I know I can trust him.

His friend's mom texted me back by the time I was back inside the apartment to let me know he had arrived there. Whew.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Thought We Were Here to Learn to Swim

My 5-year old is almost finished with his first round of swimming lessons. He's doing great. I'm looking forward to being able to do a little more in the lakes around here this summer.

To get to the pool at the school where his lessons are, you first have to go through what is practically a maze (thankfully there is signage)--up stairs and back down, with several turns along the way. Then you enter the locker room (where he changes into his swim suit), through the shower room (one of those "group showers" where there are six posts with like 5 nozzles on each one--the ones we hated using in junior high) and then you walk out into the pool.

I often have my 3-year old along. Today, as we were walking through the showers to get to the pool for lessons, the 3-year old says, "That guy looks funny." Awkward.

For the record: the guy was naked. And no, I didn't look to confirm it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Teachable Moments

It's an obvious principle, but I keep forgetting that children don't just learn things on their own. I'm realizing that I can't just tell the boys to go clean their room, hoping that I can put some laundry away at the same time. I can't tell my 3-year old to go play with his friend and expect them to get along while I was the dishes.

I have to be present. I need to be there with them, supervising and helping pick up. I need be there with my 3-year old helping him learn how to play with his friend in a way that doesn't end up with them hitting or throwing anything. Even if I've shown them these things several times before. I can't just think that they're going to follow through.

They need to see it. I need to continually model it. And, the hope is, that in time they'll be able to do it on there own (and I can get the dishes and the laundry done--of course, who knows what our life situation will be by that point). But for right now, the relationship part of the task trumps the other tasks I have to do (well, some of them at least).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Many Bites? A Exercise in Quantity

Our 3-year old has a wonderful way of helping us get him to eat more. We make our boys have a set number of bites (matching their age) of whatever they're served. Tonight we were having taco salad. He just wanted a burrito. So I wrapped everything up in the tortilla. Then he unfurled it and just ate the tortilla. He wanted some of the chips that I had out for the salad. I told him he would have to eat most of his veggies first. After a while I asked him how many more bites he needed to eat before I could give him some chips. I suggested three. He suggested four. A deal was made. (He's suggested as much as two or three times the amount of what we're suggesting before. We always let him win in those situations.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

One Size Fits All?

Maybe this picture is inappropriate. I apologize if it is. But there's a story with it:
Nils took these shorts off one of their teddy bears. The were originally preemie pants. Honestly. They still have the tag on them. But apparently they still fit a three year old when he's not wearing a diaper. One day after rest time, I discovered him with them on. He's worn them a few times since--including once at night time when my brother-in-law was watching the boys so we could go out for my wife's birthday. Nils must have coaxed him into letting him wear them to bed. Somehow the diaper still fit underneath. Don't worry--we haven't let him wear them out in public. But that doesn't mean he won't try.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Twin Cities Activities

I'm always looking for new things to do and places to explore--especially free ones. Here are a couple websites with good lists. Find something new to try with your kids, on a date with your spouse or while grabbing some precious alone time.

Free Things to Do in the Twin Cities
150 Things to Do in Minneapolis

I also came across another at-home-dad starting a blog of 365 Things to Do in the Twin Cities. It's not necessarily kid/family focused, but it'll provide some places and events you probably haven't been to before.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pizza Crust

A made a pizza for a friend of mine who just had a baby. I had offered to make them a meal after the baby was home. They requested pizza--I had made some for them when they were over for supper a while ago. I was told they ate the whole thing; he also requested the recipe. So, while I was typing it out, I thought I'd include it here. Everyone's got their favorite recipe, I know. This one has always turned out delicious, and it's very easy to make.

Easy Pizza Crust

1 1/4 c warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 c flour

Stir water, yeast and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add oil and salt after the yeast has activated (about 5 minutes). Add the first 2 cups of flour. Mix. Slowly add more flour until the dough is firm and no longer sticky.

Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning the dough so it is all coated. Cover the bowl (plastic wrap works, I use a glass lid for a saucepan so I can see it rise).

Once the dough has doubled (after an hour or so), divide in half and roll onto a pizza stone (or a backing sheet), sprinkled with corn meal.

My notes: I like to sometimes add paprika, basil, oregano or other spices to the warm water to give the dough added pizazz. I also will use garlic salt instead of table salt. I also sometimes like to make a whole wheat crust (1 1/2 c whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 c white flour).

The key to getting it to turn out well is activating the yeast (using hot enough, but not too hot water) and kneading well. Those can take a little practice, but the effort is worth it.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

We got back not too long ago, from the library. They had a celebration for Dr. Seuss' birthday. It was just some stories, singing a few songs (including Happy Birthday and The Hokey Pokey) and a craft project (paper Cat-in-the-Hat). They had some pre-packaged rice crispy treats and juice boxes. They also gave each child a free book (Anders got The Magic Tree House #4, which we hadn't been able to find at the library, ironically).

I'm a Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel, if you will) fan. He writes with the oh-so-catchy trisyllabic meter rhyme, comes up with wonderful words (he coined the word "nerd"--although it was a creature in a zoo back then) and has imaginative illustrations. He taught us some great lessons (possibly influenced by his Lutheran background?):
  • a person's a person, no matter how small (Horton Hears a Who)
  • all turtles should be free (Yertle the Turtle)
  • stewardship of our resources (The Lorax)
  • discrimination is bad (The Sneetches)
  • things aren't necessary to make us happy (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
So I join the celebration of Dr. Seuss' life as he has enriched our culture deeply and provided me and my family with countless hours of reading pleasure.