Thursday, June 6, 2013

Getaway Car

"Drive, drive, drive!!!" she hissed, while looking back with fear in her eyes. I floored the gas pedal and with screeching tyres I drove off the parking lot. I checked the rear-view mirror... "I think we made it.. " I mumbled.

Seriously... You don't mess with nap time. Oh, really? You thought J. and I had robbed a gas station, fleeing in the sunset, Bonnie and Clyde style? Sorry to disappoint you.. it is a parenting blog after all, not America's Most Wanted.

What would make a perfectly sane couple loose their shit and drive off in the sunset? OK, it was 2pm, so not really sunset, but you get the point. Nap time.. really.. NAP .... TIME ! You don't mess with it.

OK, so what happened?

J. and I were trying to make our little city garden look nice for spring and summer. After much discussion we decided to get one of those garden storage boxes to keep our recycling sorted. Recycling is difficult here. Seperate your paper from your plastics, seperate those from your green waste, keep the batteries in a seperate box, keep your colored glass seperate from your white, transparant glass, find a spot for those broken light bulbs, find a spot for the broken electronics, put your metal waste somewhere else... you see, it can be quite challenging to keep this all organised. Anyway, we decided on this garden storage box. We were going to go and get that box and clean up our yard. But then we looked at the clock .... 1pm.. NAP TIME ! What to do? Would we go out and get that box; risk skipping nap time, resulting in a 2.5 year old kid who at 3 or 4 pm would be too tired to make pleasant conversation? (not making "pleasant conversation" means screaming, crying, tempertantrums, etc... just being in a destructive mood would sum it up - have you seen Poltergeist?); or would we skip getting that box, do nap time and get the garden sorted out on a different day. Losing all sanity we decided on option number 1.

Off we went. 2 kids in the back, 2 parents in the front. Arriving 15 minutes later at the local DIY store, we unloaded our offspring. J. put Little Flower in her sling and I put our Little Man in the shopping trolley. We had our eyes on the clock. Would we get away with it? The short answer to that is .. no. We were in the store for 5 minutes, looking at garden boxes, when Little Man noticed a picture of a dolphin on a swimming pool filter box. "Fishie !! Fishie !! I want the Fishie !!!" ... "Little Man, we have fishies at home, just give mama and papa a few minutes and we'll go home and look at the fishies" ... "FISHIES!!! I WANT FISHIES!!!" People started staring at us. You know the look. It's the same look people would give if I had pulled down my pants and had started peeing in the aisles. "OK, time to go." J. said. We quickly paid for that waflle iron that seemed interesting..; (future birthday parties in mind) and ran to the car. I strapped in the kids and started the engine. It took about a minute to arrive at the big avenue. I had to make a left to go home. J. looked back at the kids and then looked at me "They're both asleep." I looked at her unbelieving. "You're kidding" ... "No, they're asleep... Drive, drive, drive !!" I floored it and made a right hand turn. Yes.. a RIGHT hand turn. "Why?" would you ask... You see .. Parents think on a different plane, a different level of consciousness if you will. Going home would mean that in 15 minutes I had to try and take 2 kids out of the car without waking them up. I wasn't going to take that risk. Doing that would have meant that we wouldn't have our garden box AND we would have 2 kids that had missed their nap time.

So I drove. I drove south. I drove past Brussels. I drove around Brussels. I drove south for an hour and a half, then I drove back north for the same amount of time, playing gentle tunes on the radio and talking in hushed voices... we had no final destination. Our only goal was for our kids to get that nap time and for us to keep our sanity.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The disgusting things we do as parents...

Being a parent means sacrifice...

So if you're thinking of becoming one... don't read what follows... or read it and be warned of the sacrifice required....

One of the main things we surrender is our hygienic standard... so sit back and relax, read in amazement how we try to survive.. oh, and don't mind those sticky things on the floor.. they're just crusted boogers..

1. Not showering for several days. There, I've said it.. There were days when the most I could hope for was a wipe down with a baby wipe.

2. Wearing dirty clothes. I've been peed on, pooped on, spit on, vomitted on.... Sometimes I don't have time to change. My tip: wear clothes with busy patterns... they sort of hide the stains...

3. Bathing with my kids. Once Little Man got a bit more independent, I evolved from n°1 to actually taking a shower or a bath... but with my kid... Now I know for some people I might have already crossed a line when I admit to sharing a bath or a shower with my toddler, but trust me... it becomes worse... I've sat in a bath tub with Little Man, while being fully aware that he just peed in the water. I was just too tired to bother with running a new bath. I'm just a bit scared when he starts farting...

4. Peeing in the sink. Due to the lay-out of our house and the presence of a dog, I don't like leaving our toddler and the baby unattended for even short periods of time. I have resorted several times to peeing in the kitchen sink. Oooh, don't worry, I did remove the dirty dishes first.

5. Going to the bathroom with the door open. During parenthood I evolved, I learned, I got more experienced and the kids got older. I don't pee in the sink anymore, but I use the bathroom with the door open...

6. Coffee and milk. It's morning time. J. and I fed the kids, cleaned them up, changed their diapers and we finally can sit down for 2 seconds with, albeit lukewarm, coffee. Then we realise we forgot to put milk in our coffee and we don't feel like getting up again. Don't worry, what's good for the baby should be good for the parents too, right? Some boob-juice in the cup of black gold doesn't taste that bad and at least we didn't have to get up.

7. Biting food in to smaller pieces. I'm at the grocery store and Little Man wants a grape. I'll bite a chewable piece off, before giving it to him. Then he'll chew it a little bit and decide that he doesn't really like it that much. Be prepared to catch that chewed piece of food in your hands.

8. Sleeping in a wet bed. A leaky diaper in our bed at 2am? I'm not changing the sheets at 2am! Change the diaper, throw a towel over the wet spot and get back to catching some Z's..

9. Sucking snot. I've written about this before. Beats wiping off snot with your sleeve.

10. Dirty couch. The amount of food remnants in all the nooks and crannies of the couch might surprise you. I know that they are there, I'm just too tired to care or to clean them up.

Monday, May 20, 2013

2 languages , double the swear words

We raise our kids in 2 languages.. or at least we try I guess.. If we end up with two kids who can only grunt out indistinguishable noises when they go to college, then we'll know we've failed..

My native language is Dutch and J.'s is English. While we were pregnant with Little Man, we did lots of research into raising a kid in 2 languages. Would it screw with his head? Would his language development be stunted? We had no idea....

J. and I speak English at home to each other. I've always worked in an English language environment as well, so English is sort of our 'family language'. Little Man will only be exposed to Dutch in large quantities when he starts going to school in September.

So apparently (according to the experts) it is imperative that we both continued speaking in our native tongues to Little Man. I read his bedtime stories in Dutch and J. reads them in English. Yes, 2 languages and you have to double your budget for books... "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and 'Rupsje NooitGenoeg".. every book in 2 languages... If you think you get fed up reading "Goodnight Moon".. try reading it in 2 languages...

Little Man started talking pretty early.. Just in English though. On a rare occasion he would say something in Dutch to me. I was getting worried. Did I speak enough Dutch to him? Would he be behind with his language development by the time he was going to school? He understood what I said to him, but he never conversed in the same way he did in English. Although J. was worried in the beginning that Little Man would not speak any English, I was now starting to get worried he would not speak any Dutch.

A few weeks ago I was comforted by a new development. Little Man started comparing his vocabulary. "mama says hippopotamus... papa says nijlpaard", "mama says tomato, papa says tomaat".. He started comparing more and more words... He was putting his vocabulary in the right boxes in his head... But still I was worried... And then.., a few days ago, I was assured that everything would be OK....

Last week, Little Man walked in from the garden and said "Shit, Fuck, what the hell is that?" while holding a ladybug.... It's one of those moments you really feel proud as a parent. Especially when it was followed by a "Godverdomme"... Dutch for "goddamn".. yes, we had succeeded!! Our first-born was bilingual !!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

5 Best Songs About Fathers

I know that everyone has lists, but I couldn't resist making one myself. These are my favourite songs about being a father. Strangely enough, lots of songs about father - son conflict and not so much about the father-daughter relationship. Anyway, here they are. My 5 favourite songs (actually 6) ...

Father and Son - Cat Stevens

I've always been a fan of Cat Stevens (or Yusuf). This beautiful song featured on the 1970 album "Tea for the Tillerman". The song frames a conversation between a son and a father. The son thinks it's time to break away and find his own destiny, while the father doesn't seem to understand why. Although a lot of people thought that Cat Stevens was taking the side of the son (also taking into account the era the song was written in); while talking to Rolling Stone magazine he explained: "Some people think that I was taking the son’s side," its composer explained. "But how could I have sung the father’s side if I couldn’t have understood it, too? I was listening to that song recently and I heard one line and realized that that was my father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father speaking."

Daughter / Rufus is a Tit Man - Loudon Wainwright III

So I found this song about a father and a daughter. Having just become a father to a baby girl, I just had to include this beautiful ode to a daughter.

While I was doing research, I found this little gem of a song "Rufus is a tit man" by Loudon Wainwright III. I had to include it in this list as it's very funny (and true!!). It made J. laugh with tears in her eyes and for that reason alone it can go in this list.

Cat's in the Cradle - Harry Chapin

The next song is almost a warning for every dad out there. When you have a family, you try to work and and provide for them, but at one point you might realise that you didn't spend enough time with your kids and they have grown up. It's always a balance I'm trying to strike. How to have a comfortable life, but at the same time, spend enough time with J. and the kids....

A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash

I don't think I agree on the parenting style... But it's a great song... I wonder what Dr. Sears thinks of this?? hahaha...


Isn't She Lovely - Stevie Wonder

This songs sums it up how I felt when my daughter was born. 

OK, I know there are a lot of other songs out there that could make the cut. Do you have any suggestions or feel that I should have included other songs? Just let me know.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Pain of Parenthood

Just over 2.5 years ago I became a father for the first time.

My son L. was born after heavy labour and delivery. After 24 hours of labour they had to use the forceps to deliver L. Although grateful that they didn't have to perform a C-section, I am still wondering if it could have gone differently. But that story is for another time.

After L. was born, a pediatrician came to check up on him. It was at that moment that I was confronted with the worst feeling you can have as a parent: helplessness. She listened to his heart and detected a murmur. During the delivery with the forceps, they hurt his left arm and shoulder. When L. was sleeping, he was holding his arm close to his body instead of the usual 'up-in-the-air' position babies like to take. The pediatrician did some tests on his arm and said that he might never get full mobility. In the future he might even have trouble getting dressed, let alone play ball. J. and I were devastated. We started crying. I know that some parents receive a lot more devastating news than that, but at that moment our world collapsed. The dreams of a perfect baby were coming to an end. The doctor started listing possible treatments for his heart and arm. All of them involved surgery. I was scared.

About an hour later they came to fetch L. for an echocardiograph. It turned out he had a 2mm VSD, basically a small hole in the wall between the left and right ventricles of his heart. When we got back to our room, another doctor was waiting for us. He was the head of the pediatrics department and wanted to have a look at L. He did the same tests his colleague had done before him. He looked at us and asked why we looked so gloomy. I told him about his colleague and her list of treatments. He looked at us bewilderd. "We should keep an eye on this VSD, but it's really very small and it will probably heal by itself. I'll schedule you for some appointments," he said, "and with regards to his arm, I think some pain medication to start and he should be better in a few days." I asked about his mobility. "Give it 3 or 4 days and he'll be fine. No worries." The doctor also reminded us to enjoy the moment. J. and I looked at each other and felt relief and anger at the same time. What just happened? It turned out that the first doctor was a student (it was a university teaching hospital) and she had felt the need to impress us with her knowledge of complicated surgeries and procedures. By doing that, she had scared fresh new parents for no reason at all.

That was the first time I was confronted with the pain of parenthood. The sinking, helpless feeling you get when seeing your child hurt. I realised that Iwould do anything to take away his pain. If I could sign a paper that would allow me to feel all the pain L. would feel in his entire life instead of him; I would sign in a heartbeat.

After 3 days L.'s arm had healed up completely and after 4 months the cardiologist gave him the all clear on the VSD.

My second major confrontation with 'the pain of parenthood' happened this week. J. and I are of the belief that we should allow our children to explore as much as possible. We give them the freedom to discover their surroundings. So when we visit the Zoo, for example, we let L. run around (we don't lose sight of him) and let him pick which animals he wants to see. So this is what we did last Sunday morning. The Antwerp Zoo is only 5 minutes away and we have a membership, so whenever we can, we like to go and see the animals during all the different seasons. We consider the Zoo to be our own garden.

After a nice visit we were heading to the exit.

J. wanted to quickly visit the giftstore; but L. wanted to see the flamingos one more time. We split up and I followed L. to the flamingos. He was running towards them, when he suddenly tripped and fell. He fell with his head on a bench. Blood everywhere. I know that headwounds bleed profusely, and in my career I've seen some terrible wounds, but when your 2.5 year old kid is bleeding, nothing can prepare you for it. I scooped him up and put pressure on the wound with my fingers while running to the first aid station. A visit to the ER was necessary and the good doctors glued his head back together.

When my child is hurt, it hurts me just the same. It is gutwrenching and nausiating. This goes, not only for the big events, but also for the small daily events that hurt my kid. I want to protect him at all cost. Somebody who looks at my kid in a funny way? ... I want to hurt that person and do mean things to them. Another kid in the playground who pushes my child... I want to punch that kid in the face.

But this is part of the catch 22 of parenthood. As a good parent you want your child to discover the world. You want your child to explore and to be amazed by new things. This is part of the learning process for every child, everywhere in the world. As a parent and a dad, you need to allow it. The catch? Every time your child goes into unknown territory, the chance of getting hurt increases. Not only in a physical way, but also emotional. When your child is sad because of a failed adventure with a new toy, you feel sad. You don't want your child to feel that way.

Parenthood is finding a balance. Nobody can tell you where the boundaries of exploration exist for you and your child. You'll figure this out for yourself every day again, and again, and again. Every stage in growing up requires more exploration, more independence and probably more hurt in the process. As parents, we know that getting hurt is part of the learning process and we know that kids need to do it; but it doesn't mean you have to like it.

Is parenthood and being a dad easy? Sometimes it is. Most of the time it is hard and difficult. It can be frustrating, it can be tiring, it can be emotional, it can be all of these things thrown together in a debilitating cocktail of feelings.  I might say something controversial here, but I believe that any parent who says parenthood is easy is not a good parent. Parenthood should be difficult. If your choices as a parent sometimes don't keep you up at night or sometimes don't make you doubt yourself, you are not giving it your all. Parenthood and fatherhood shouldn't be easy.

Fatherhood is the most amazing experience, it grows you as a human being. It warms your heart.

You know what fatherhood does to you? It makes you a man.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mother's Day

So in a few days it's Mother's Day. Well... For me it's Mother's Day part 1.. You see, I live in a city which always had a way of going against the flow; a bit stubborn you might say. Others in Belgium might call us arrogant. You might compare it to the view Americans have about New Yorkers. So anyway, on May 12 it's Mother's Day in the majority of the world, the US and Belgium, ... except in Antwerp. People in this city have celebrated Mother's day, for a hundred years now, on August 15.

The average dad might start shivering in fear and dread..."Another date to remember!! Oh No!!" It is, .. it is .. but come on. If you're reading this blog I might presume that you are somewhat capable of handling computers, tablets, smartphones or whatever you use to read my scribblings. I'm pretty sure that little gadget you're using has a calendar in it... No excuses anymore to forget a day like Mother's Day, your anniversary, your wife's birthday or your mother-in-law's birthday.

So how do I do it? Do we celebrate it 2 times a year? Does J. get a present 2 times a year for the same effort... Hell no... You see, having an international family is sometimes difficult, but it can also hand you the solutions on a platter and it makes you look like the best husband in the world (and the best son in the world).

Since J. is American, we stick to the 2nd Sunday in May for her. That day is her day, completely, unconditionally. She doesn't have to share it with my mother, who of course requires attention as well on Mother's Day. On August 15, my mother gets the full Mother's Day treatment and she doesn't have to share it with J. That's how you sell a thing like this. "Hunny, I've been thinking. Doing this Mother's Day 2 times a year takes away from the importance of it. I think we should seperate it in having a full day for you and a full day for my mother. This way I can focus completely on you." . "My god, that is so thoughtful of you.".


So in a few days I will give J. all the attention she rightfully deserves and it will be her Mother's Day.

And for the future dads out there: you totally need to buy a present for your pregnant wife...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Day Drinking without Regrets

So Wednesday was a holiday in Belgium, the sun was out and after a few rough weeks dealing with a newborn and a 2.5 year old toddler, my wife and I were definately ready for some day-drinking. The trials of parenthood just seem less intimidating with a fair amount of alcohol in your blood.

Decent planning is the keyword here. Day-drinking can provide you with some great fun, but if you don't plan it correctly, your kids will make you regret it the day after. So here are the rules of day-drinking while being a parent:

  1. Never, ever drink in such a way you will end up with a hangover. The whole reason for day-drinking is to relieve some of the stress of parenthood. Having a hangover the next day and having your kid scream at you for breakfast, I can assure you, doesn't relieve the stress.
  2. Breastfeeding moms: There are a lot of stories out there with regards to alcohol and breastfeeding. The bottom line is that, although the alcohol is diluted a bit, it does go straight into the breastmilk; but when the alcohol levels in your blood drop, so does the levels in the breastmilk. Good planning is key here. First feed the kiddo and then have a drink. Then wait at least 2 hours (for each drink you had) before a next feeding... I know.. some of you might gasp at all this.. "OMG, she breastfeeds and drinks!"... Hold your horses.. This is a personal choice. If you don't feel like doing it, then don't.. I, for sure, like to see my wife relax and have a beer or glass of wine and enjoy herself. After 9 months of carrying a child, she deserves to have a drink.
  3. Choose your medicine wisely. As a parent, you can't do this every day; so make it worth the effort. Boxwine is usually a favourite when we go to a park or playground that doesn't have a bar attached (we're in Belgium. A playground without a bar is like a church running out of holy water). Otherwise we rely on the offerings of the bar. Not being restricted by rule n°2, I usually have a selection of beers and I never mix my beers, wine and spirits, because then I run the risk of violating rule n°1.
  4. Make sure your kids are entertained while you are sucking the last drop out of your box-a-wine. "Just invite some other parents with kids." you might say... Wrong!! Inviting other parenst with kids is the key, but you have to meet on neutral ground: a playground or a park. This way you avoid having to interrupt your drinking, to seperate kids that are fighting over the same toy...  In Belgium you can take your own booze to a playground. It's a bit more problematic in the US, where alcohol might be forbidden in the park. I haven't figured out a solution to that one. Being Belgian I was surprised when we went to a children's playground in Phoenix and alcohol was forbidden AND there was no bar nearby!! Sacrilege... (I welcome any suggestions..)
  5. Make sure you have snacks for you and the kids. Having some food in your stomach will make it easier to stick to rule n°1 and rule n°4.
  6. You want to feel comfortable. This means finding a place where people don't give you stares when your wife pops out her boobs to feed the little one. If people are giving her stares when she does that, don't even think about letting her have a sip of her favourite medicine. They will probably crucify you on the spot. Finding the right place might take a while, but once you've found it, stick to it.
  7. If you have followed rule N°4 and invited other parents, try and steer the conversation away from parenting. Once in a while it's nice to chat about something else than little Johnnie's scatalogical adventures. 
  8. Just enjoy yourself. Don't feel guilty about it. Having a day like this keeps you sane and makes you a better parent to your kids.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Google and Breastfeeding

So about a week ago I started blogging about my experiences as a dad.

J. and I are what some people might describe as 'natural parents' or 'attached parents'. We believe that we should raise our children in the most gentle and natural way possible. We don't judge other parents. Attached parenting is something that fits our lifestyle, but we realise that this might not be the case for other parents.

Breastfeeding is a huge part of this choice. L. has been breastfeed and still is; although he is 2 years and 8 months old. R. is being breastfeed as well. Naturally, I write about breastfeeding and a dad's perspective on the whole issue.

Although it took me a while to make the decision to blog, I started it with the intention of keeping it up for quite a while to come. My youngest daughter is 1 month old, so I have years of material ahead of me. As such I decided to apply for a Google AdSense account, which would allow me, in the future, to include some relevant Google ads to my blog. I was hoping I might create some revenue by which to promote my blog and to get the word out there.

This was without taking into account Google's view on breastfeeding. I was refused an account because they said my blog contained 'adult material' aka 'porn'. Apparently Google takes offense at a dad writing about his wife feeding children with her boobs (oops, I did it again.. I used the word 'boobs')

I guess there are still people out there that find breastfeeding repulsive and associate it with sex and porn. People that find it repulsive that a baby drinks milk from it's own mother; but at the same time don't find it repulsive that they drink cow's milk. Do they think a cow just makes milk so you can pour something over your cereal? 

I was going to wait a bit before publishing this post because I realise I'm angry. I'm angry at Google and I'm angry at people who judge others, fueled by their own insecurities and issues with the human body. 

In the mean time I remain proud of J., my wife. She is feeding my children and creating a loving bond that no-one can take away from her and our children. They will grow up to be strong, independent and not afraid of the human body.

If the miracle of birth wasn't enough, J. pulled another miracle out of her hat. The miracle of breastfeeding.

Home Birth and Witchcraft

So just over a month ago, my daughter R. was born.

After she was born, J. put her on her chest for about an hour to let R. sniff out the boobs.. It didn't take long for her to find them and to start her first meal in the outside world. After her feeding, I took her on my chest to get some skin-to-skin contact with my daughter. J. washed up, took a shower and got changed into some comfy clothes. In the meantime L. had come up to the bedroom and was getting acquainted with his baby sister... Grandma was shedding tears of happiness..

My daughter R. the night she was born

The whole family went downstairs and I made us something to eat. "Where are the doctors?", you might wonder. "Where are the machines, monitors, IV's?" There were none.

We had a home birth.

How did we arrive at that decision? It's hard to say. L.'s birth experience was the full medical experience. Hospital room, Delivery Room, people in scrubs, lots of equipment that makes beeping noises and have annoying alarms that only seem to be designed to give prospective parents a heart attack. In Belgium a mother stays in the hospital for 5 days after a normal delivery (6 days in case of a C-section), so when we found out that we were pregnant of R. we decided to do something different. We wanted to get the warm and fuzzy feeling we thought should be part of a delivery and birth experience. Although we did not immediately consider a home birth it was always in the back of our minds.

J. was seeing an OB at that time who was not in favour of home birth. J. simply said "Then I wil go and see a different OB". So after the first trimester we went to see a different OB. J. explained that we were considering a home birth. "I'm not a big fan of home births," he said, "but if you have a good midwife that will assist you and if you promise to continue seeing me during the pregnancy, so I can give the green light at 37 weeks, I'm OK with it". So we found a fantastic group of midwives (one of them actually a man) who made us feel comfortable with our decision. Of course we had a lot of questions and concerns, but our midwives put them all to rest. At the final check up at 37 weeks, the OB told us that he saw no reason not to have a home birth and he wished us all the best.

One evening at the end of March, J. came up to me "My water broke!". She was a bit embarrassed as she thought she had peed herself. She didn't have that experience from our first pregnancy, so this was all new to us. We called the midwife as we were concerned that J. was not having any contractions yet. "If the liquid is clear, I see no reason for concern. Just try and rest and I will see you in the morning." The next morning our midwife dropped by. No contractions yet. He called the OB to see what the plan would be. "If she comes in for 30 minutes of monitoring during the day, I will give her until the next morning. If there are no contractions then, we will have to induce". Our hearts felt heavy. It seemed we were doomed to repeat our first birth experience.

Around noon, there were no signs of contractions, so we went in for the monitoring. Everything was fine with baby, but no sign of contractions. J. and I drove home, feeling tired and beaten up. "Let's all take a nap and we'll see what happens". She took a spoon of castor oil as they say it induces labour. We went to bed.

At around 4.30pm J. woke me up. "I'm having contractions!". I started timing them and called our midwife. "I'll be right there". J. wanted to lie in the bathtub and relax. We were going through all our tips and tricks to make her feel more comfortable. "Breath, baby... relax..." At 5pm our midwife arrived and she checked up on J. "5 centimeters!!". Halfway there... At around 6pm J. was having serious labour pains. The birthing ball did wonders and she huffed and puffed through the contractions. I made her a hotpack and massaged her lower back. "You're doing great" the midwife assured us. Just before 7pm J. was really uncomfortable. "I feel I need to push! I need to push!!" The midwife checked and declared "Go girl.. Now is the time." J. sat on hands and knees next to the bed. For some reason I ended up on my back, in between her legs, looking straight up at the place where it all was happening. The head was crowning. J. pushed one more time and grabbed our daughter.

Our daughter R. was born at 7.03 pm. Our dream of having a natural, gentle birth had become reality.

Jim Gaffigan on Home Births and Midwives

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cooking for the Boobs #1

Ok, J. has been breastfeeding L. for 2.5 years and R. (1 month old) is also on the boobs. During that time I've learned a few things that I thought I would share with you. Here's a few survival tips:

If your wife is anything like mine (besides being a superwoman), your wife for sure won't have time, or is too tired to cook. Ordering delivery or take-out might get boring after a while (and is not really healthy). As a dad and as a super-husband (of which I'm sure you are too ;) ) you have to have some tricks up your sleeve for easy, fast and healthy cooking. If your wife is breastfeeding, you can cook up some stuff that will encourage those boobs to produce flowing rivers of milk for those hungry kids.

My family likes to cook organic, but that is a personal choice. If you're already cooking at home, I think you're doing great.

My favourite is the following quick and easy pasta dish. The fennel will encourage the milk production.

Fennel and Mushroom Pasta

Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • your choice of fettuccine, linguine or spagheti
  • 3 Fennel Bulbs
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (doesn't matter what type)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup fresh coarsly chopped parsley

Start boiling the water for your pasta. Take off any tough or bruised outer layers of the fennel. Chop the bulb and softer parts of the stem into ½-1 inch slices. Stir-fry the fennel in the olive oil for a few minutes. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Stir-frying for another 5 minutes, add the mushrooms. Add a cup of water and simmer the fennel and mushrooms for another 10-15 minutes until the fennel is soft and there is still some liquid to mix with the pasta. Toss al dente pasta and fennel sauté together. Toss the parsley under it and sprinkle some Parmesan on top.

If you have it at home, you can drizzle some truffle-oil on top to make it more festive.

Voila, your wife will love you forever and ever...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Winnie-the-Pooh sabotaged our beekeeping dreams

So about a year ago J. said she wanted to keep bees and as I love my wife and family very much I said "Yes, of course dear.". J. started reading blogs, articles and books about keeping bees. "I want to be as gentle and as natural as I can." she said. "We need to get a Top Bar Hive." My reply to this was "Yes, of course dear."

Now you have to understand that we live in the centre of the city. We have a small (court)yard, but nothing that would be considered flowing meadows or an actual garden. "Bees are endangered." she said. "We need to help them; and besides this is a great opportunity for L. to learn about fauna and flora." Being the 'not-yet-out-of-the-closet' hippies that we are, I could see the reasoning behind this. So we set out to prepare L. for the arrival of the bees. We started by building a little bee hotel for solitary bees. We explained to L. that bees are friendly and that they need our help and that we could never, ever, hurt them. All in all we were set up for some peaceful beekeeping.

Until that day in January. "Angry bees will hurt me!", L. blurted out. J. and I looked at each other... Where did that come from? After some investigating, we found out that L. had been watching a DVD at grandma's: Winnie the Pooh. You all know the story: the little bear sets out to get honey from the bees in any which way he can. Usually he fails in some kind of way and the bees attack him or chase him through the Hundred Acre Wood. All these months of hard work sabotaged by Disney... This elevated Disney to the same heights as Monsanto or Kim Jong Un in J.'s and my "List of Companies or Persons that are set out to Destroy the Planet".. And of course we blamed television... Screens are not a common occurence at our house, so this provided proof to us that screens were bad; very bad indeed.

What could we do? Could we still keep bees? Would L. start screaming and running away every time a bee came near? Would he try to hurt the bees so he would really get stung? We cursed Disney and the little bear they owned.

"Can I see my friends? I need to help my friends". We looked at L. "I need to help my friends, just like Pooh" J. and I started laughing. We took L. to the park to see his friends. The park sort of resembles the Hundred Acre Wood. We walked through the park and pointed out the bees and the birds. We came home and L. helped me improve the bee hotel. This year we will order our Top Bar Hive and get some bees.

But he'll only get to watch Winnie when he's at grandma's.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Snot Sucker

Really.... Seriously.... No other creature in the animal kingdom is so ill-prepared to be born and to be thrown in the harsh reality of the outside world as the human baby...

Why did we get the short end of the stick? Why are we stuck with this small excuse for a human being that is barely able to breath and eat? You watch any show on Animal Planet or one of those fancy BBC nature documentaries where a dude with a fancy accent explains how a new born elephant starts walking within 5 minutes of being born or how the baby tiger is sharpening his hunting skills just hours after being expelled into this world...

We, humans, are stuck with these small creatures that shit and piss where they lie... not able to walk , not even to turn around on it's belly to change it's perspective on the world...

The most baffling thing is snot.... yes, snot... , the clear, yellow or green (yes, it comes in a variety of shades and colors) stuff that seems to be in abundant and unlimited supply in any baby or toddler. You would think that nature has found a way for human babies to get rid of all that snot.... and guess what? It hasn't ... While the baby chimpansee is swinging from the trees, our babies are lying in their own piss and shit, while their face is covered in 50 shades of snot... Apparently, despite our massive brains, the technique of blowing your nose can only be mastered after several months ex uterus...

So what do you do as a parent? Your kid is running around with his face full of wet and dry, crusted snot..., acting like a human fly catcher with all the small bugs and flies that seem to get stuck in this nasal mucus. His head is all congested, he's got a headache and soon his ears will get infected too.. What do you do?

Introduce the Snot Sucker !!! Yes, you've read it correctly... Snot Sucker... It's really God's gift to parents, although be it a somewhat tainted gift. How do you get the snot out of a toddler's nose? What about something that can create some kind of suction by which to suck those nostrils clear of any green or yellow colored substances?... And I'm not talking about those little pear shaped devices that you sqeeuze and never give you the full snot-sucking satisfaction. Those suckers are for wimps... I'm talking the real deal here... I'm talking about 'parent-powered' suction... I'm talking about the NoseFrida...

From the picture above you might guess how it works... One end goes into your child's snot-filled nostril..., the other end goes into your mouth to provide that 'parent-powered' suction... My wife has tricked me into being the designated nose-sucker. She said this would be a great bonding opportunity for me and our children since I'm missing out on the breastfeeding bonding experience... I'm not sure if it's on the same level, but I'll take what I can get... So while the baby dolphin is swimming next to it's mother, communicating with her using all kinds of fancy sonar and echo location stuff... I'm chasing our 2.5 year old with a snot sucker in my mouth... You wonder how the human race ever evolved and survived...