Archives for category: Play

It’s great to see parents at the playground with their little ones. I love to go with mine and watch them run, climb, slide, giggle, and most importantly, wear themselves out.

There are different types of playground parents. Of course, most are welcome…and all are judged. I am missing a few types, such as creepy spy guy that watches every other kid’s actions but their own, the iParent who’s cell phone is the real baby, and feeder mom…you know, the one that doles out enough snacks for an entire elementary school and you’re perplexed because she’s only got one kid. There are others, but I’ve listed the most common.

The first kind of playground parents are the foreigners. They’re the ones that don’t bat an eyelash watching their toddler climb to the top of the swing set and do a triple pike somersault onto the sand below…head first or not. It’s not that they don’t care. They just think that lessons learned can best be had through experience. It’s a tough kind of love. They randomly yell one or two words at their child in the native tongue, and never seem overly concerned when no response is received.

The second style of parents are the squatters. Similar to the foreigners, squatters watch their progeny a bit more closely. They’re the parents that fill up the seats near the merry-go-round and relax while their kids are jetting through the playground burning off the morning’s banana pancakes. These parents don’t get too worked up and are very keen on sitting through all play activity save for a little one’s loss of tooth or limb. I used to wonder why these parents wouldn’t engage much with their kids at play, but now I get it. It’s not that they don’t care about spending every waking moment with their cubs. They do. These parents seize the opportunity to replenish their energy stores. And the tot lot is a good way to rest big feet while simultaneously exhausting little ones. Squatters are always on the lookout for a path of least resistance…or a path to an empty park bench. Often, members of this group will be squatting while iParenting their phones.

The third kind of playground parent is the helicopter variety. These parents tend to position themselves less than a hair’s length away from their delicate offspring. At. All. Times. To the untrained eye, these parents are so lovingly attentive to their hatchlings. With smiles plastered on their face (which could be easily mistaken for grimaces), these adults not so forcefully jockey other moms and babies away so that contact between themselves and their fragile halfling is never lost. Sure they’re laughing with their child to the casual onlooker, but internally they’re terrified that contact with the rubber mat or mulch pit will render their toddler snafued.

My wife thinks that I’m the helicopter dad. She’s told me that multiple times. It used to get me upset, until I really started judging watching other parents in action.  I’d just rather have a trip to the ice cream parlor than to the hospital. (Does anyone say parlor anymore?) If I can get both my kids to double digits without either one breaking a bone or losing a limb, it’s the basketball equivalent of never dropping a pass or losing the ball. Ever. If I could do it for 10 more years, I’d secure my spot in the record books for the greatest dad ever.

I’ve got friends with damaged kids under 5 (i.e. broken bones, lost teeth, severed tendons, etc.), but I’ve been blessed with big hands and the agility of a flying cockroach. I can be a child preserving (term used not in the taxidermal way) champion. My mind’s not quite right, but everyone must trade something for superhuman athleticism…and I followed suit. I say “Show me a brain that can hit a half-court jump shot? Exactly! It’s all in the hands!”

Early on, my game was protecting Mushie and Worm from harming themselves. Now they’ve almost completely changed strategy to work on maiming each other. On the plus side, I can stick to my kids like Elmer’s glue to carpet. My footwork and child handling skills have improved tremendously. I’m heading for the record books…anyone want to bet against me?


Jumping and Falling can  be seen as the same dangerous act…

Is this what they mean when they say "Catch the Baby?"

Is this what they mean when they say “Catch the Baby?”

Gavin – 39; Honeydaddy – 23 (My dad skills are growing! Ha ha ha!)

Mushmonster, how do I start? (7)

You lead with your head before your heart. (9)

“Gallop forward. Pick up steam.”

Such is your mantra. A battle scream!

Have you no clue of what you bring,

When bashing your head on everything?

Mushie, dear, your skull has won

Against Honeydaddy and his son.


Poor Worm. You football “speared” him,

Blackened his eye, and blued his soft skin!

Then you set sights (it was more like your steel forehead) onto me

Splitting my lips by jumping with glee.

“Use your head.” isn’t the same

As what you think, when playing your game.

“Who’s next?” I ask out of fear.

Mommy’s the last undamaged. It’s clear.

Your noggin, fit for a brawl,

Will, in a short time, destroy us all.

It’s formidable, no doubt.

If you’re in a pinch, your dome’s got clout!


Hear my plea! Use it for good.

Control your powers. I know you could.

I’ve said it before. Now, again.

When I say “Use your head.”, I mean your brain! Or wear a friggin’ helmet until you understand what I’m saying…sheesh!


Worm, when Mushie's around, keep your hands up to guard your face!

Worm, when Mushie’s around, keep your hands up to guard your face!

and I think it smiled back at me! I don’t know who’s happier about this, me, Mushie, or the poop in the mini potty. She said that she wanted to go poopie, so she was placed on the fake toilet thingy (whatever it’s called), and dropped a turdle.

It was amazing. Why? Because I’m starting to see it. A world without diapers and butt wipes and zinc cream and rubber gloves and hazmat suits. A world where I can leave the house without wondering how many poops I saw in the morning and anticipating what damage could happen while out in the field. It’s a future where a visit to the zoo doesn’t cover anyone’s backside, frontside, and sideside in excrement. A future where I’m not smelling butts before and between appetizers and dessert, patting the diaper sag every hour, or avoiding Mushie’s booty bulge in hopes that Steph will be “the first one” to notice that something’s amiss.

From what I’ve read about toddlers, girls tend to drop the diapers sooner than boys…something about boys just not giving a crap (pardon the pun) that a giant tootsie roll is hitching a ride. Though I can see how after a while, you just wouldn’t notice it back there…or that maybe there’s a possibility that it could just dry out and fall off on its own.

We didn’t rush the Worm into underwear. And he did take his time with it, until the peer pressure from schoolmates probably coaxed him into getting his shit together (another pun, sorry). So, I don’t really want to rush the Smushter. Studies say that it’s a sensitive subject and you can screw up children for life if you don’t potty train correctly. And there’s a fine line between letting them crap everywhere they please and forcing them to spend the better part of the day on the toilet waiting to experience the real thing. If Mushmonster was easy to change, I wouldn’t care so much. But having to wrestle and pin her down during changes isn’t fun anymore. We’re going on two years with the same flailing, kicking, and grabbing. She’s getting bigger and stronger…and I’m only getting older and slower.

Mushie, I'm just glad you didn't turn around and pick it up with your hands...

Mushie, I’m just glad you didn’t turn around and pick it up with your hands…




Holy crap, that last post was a rant and rave session! This one’s different, I promise. Plus, I’ve had over 3 weeks to blow off that steam!

I love the fall season. It’s my favorite time of year. The weather gets a bit crisp, like a ripe apple! It’s relaxing and enjoyable to welcome the changing seasons, but really only when you don’t have small children running and screaming through the moment. I have children, so I can’t just sit out on the back patio for hours and breathe in a cool old fashioned while watching (or imagining, as we do here in San Diego) leaves fall from the trees. Because as soon as my cocktail holding derriere hit the patio furniture, Mushie would already be trouncing through the yard picking, stomping, (or heaven forbid, tasting) dog poopies. (I swear she’s convinced they’re truffles…I digress.)

Sorry, back to the apples. We wanted to return to the Raven Hill apple orchard in Julian, CA that we had first visited way back in 2012. (We missed the apple orchards last year due to a complication called a 9-month old baby.)  After perusing the old internet this year, we learned that Raven Hill didn’t exist anymore. But in exactly the same place, there was an orchard called Volcan Valley Apple Farm.  (I know. I know. First our favorite orchard was on a hill…now, it’s in a valley…it’s all about perspective, I guess.) We punched the location into the GPS and early Saturday morning, we headed for the hills, er, valley.

Three things I learned while making the one hour and nineteen minute trip on the winding roads up to Julian, California:

  1. An hour in the car with small children can feel like three.
  2. Having two people in the car with motion sickness is worse than one. (Worm inherited this from his mother.)
  3. It wouldn’t be a normal weekend unless someone is crying inconsolably.

Once we arrived at our destination (and the altitude induced hypoxia kicked in), the smiles and laughter began. Worm and mommy got the color back in their faces and the woozy out of their legs. We walked the rows of tasty apples and hauled in three bags worth of the delicious (not to be confused with the genetically modified and tasteless red delicious) apples! Lucky for us, we showed up early in the season. The recent southern California droughts had left some orchards fruitless.

The day was turning out better than it had started, which is never a bad thing…and all without a flask of hard alcohol! I can’t say that it was the finest trip I’ve ever taken with the family, but it was memorable. Just like the landscape, our orchard experience this year had its ups and downs. But, the highest part was that my camera captured a really touching moment of the kids that is probably my finest work to date. I found it absolutely breathtaking (though, it didn’t quite make up for all of the crying and whining that day…).

This image speaks volumes more than my captions ever could.

This image speaks volumes more than my captions ever could.

Gavin – 36; Honeydaddy – 21 (In the muck and mire of day-to-day parenting, I know I forget to open my eyes and experience the present moment. You and your sister are doing your best to keep reminding me to do so. Please don’t give up on me.)



It was another quiet Tuesday morning…until the kids woke up. I thought I’d be a nice Honeydaddy and fix the kids some slow-cooked homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal with the apples we picked last weekend. (That post hasn’t been written yet! Oops!) That was my first mistake…making a nice breakfast, not writing the apple picking post. Cooking oatmeal means being able to stand over the stove and making sure it doesn’t burn. The little apes ones were on full throttle as soon as they opened their eyes. Once set free from their pens, neither would stay anywhere within eye and earshot of me. Since Mushie is a magnet for trouble, I kept having to run back into the bedrooms to drag her out (kicking and screaming) to the living room, where I could better gauge her wandering curiosity.  (There is a reason why some parents, such as myself, love and cherish highchairs with chains, er..constraints, I mean…safety buckles…)

After 45 minutes of this type of multitasking, the food was done. I was not-quite-so-happy to be able to corral the feral chickens sweeties and give them a tasty, healthy meal. And before he even got the first spoonful, Worm wailed about how much he didn’t like it. I’d never made this apple cinnamon version before, but Worm was certain that my oatmeal was disgusting and worthy of a bucket full of tears. He refused to sample it and thwarted my attempts to pry his raptor claws hands from over his mouth. It was only after I distracted him with moving pictures on the TV, that I was able to shovel some gruel into him. He then asked for more and gobbled up the rest of his serving. Ridiculous. After filling his belly, I asked Worm if he had learned anything from his folly.  I drew a blank stare.

In an effort to cheer up the children, I thought to myself “Hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea to take the kids to the zoo?  We could discuss how eerily similar raising children are to keeping wild animals!” So we tried to get dressed and leave.  Now in our house, it takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to get the kids and myself ready to go anywhere.  This time it was bordering on 60. Lots of whining about putting on clothes.  Mushie didn’t want a clean diaper. Worm forgot how to dress himself. No one wanted to wear shoes. I wrangled one slippery weasel child to get it clothed while the other one paraded around the house leaving a trail of toys behind. (A stun gun would really help maintain the order. My guess it that with a couple of short, but powerful zaps, I could dress the kids, pack snacks, and pile everything in the car in less than 20 minutes.)

The trip to the zoo was less than lovely. I’d hate to give the impression that toddlers cry for no reason whatsoever. So, I believe Mushie was overwhelmed by the whole ISIS crisis. She cried until she was out of tears…which just so coincided with the entire ride there…

I buckle Mushie and Worm to the wagon and by the time we get inside the zoo, it was hot!  So, more whining and crying ensued. I explained to the kids that when it takes almost 3 hours to eat breakfast, get dressed and leave the house that the day doesn’t wait for us. I drew two blank stares.

The third mistake was entirely mine. We had a brief moment of proverbial sunshine when Worm told me he loved me and that he wanted to ride the Skycar. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I thought it was a breakthrough and that the tides were turning! We rode the Skycar and it was actually a smiling, 3 minute event for all of us. But then we landed.

I can summarize the rest of the zoo trip below. This is immediately after we landed the Skycar on the other side of the zoo:

  • Worm screamed in tears “Hold me! Hold me!” until I carried him. There was no other choice.
  • Mushie screamed “Ho we! Ho we!” which means the same as “Hey, lanky asshat! I’m not interested in walking around anymore. Hold me now!” So now I was carrying both kids and the diaper bag. (In case you were wondering, the kiddie wagon was parked at the other side of the zoo, where we got on the Skycar. It was too big to fit inside.)
  • We stopped to see the elephants. I put both kids down. Tears. “Hold me! Ho we!” played in the background as I mentally twisted the words into a lovely melody. The song lasted until other people started staring. I picked them up and walked on.
  • We stopped to see the tapirs. I put the kids down. I could barely feel my biceps, but the Worm didn’t care. More tears. “I’m hungry! Eat! Eat! I don’t want that! Noooo!” I explain to Worm that I left my magic wand at home and couldn’t make his requested foods jump out of the diaper bag.
  • We stopped to see the camel. I ask Worm to walk a bit because my arms needed a break. He said HIS legs were tired and proceeded to scream, cry, and jump around me in circles to get me to carry him further. It was the oddest display of toddler fatigue I’d ever witnessed. I picked him up again and trudged on.
  • I decided to go for the trump card and offered both children lollipops, but ONLY IF THEY WALKED PART OF THE WAY back to the wagon. It worked for the Worm. But I spoke too soon and retrieved only a single pop from the diaper bag. Smushter felt like she got the short end of the stick. So now it was her turn to scream and cry.
  • I flipped that damn diaper bag inside out hunting for a second lollipop all while questioning why I left the house, why I try to care for children without my liquor flask, and why I had children in the first place…
  • I found a second lollipop and all became right in the world with each of them…and I began to feel the sensation in my arms coming back to me.

Children have a way of ruining experiences that leave an indelible mark on your psyche. Now when I hear the words “Do you want to go to the zoo?”, I cringe and think to myself “I wake up inside the zoo every day. I just open my eyes and I’m smack dab in the middle of the chimpanzee exhibit.”

I can’t believe you read this far…or maybe you just scrolled down to see the pictures. (Mom, I’m talking to you.)

A Picture of the Beau...Um...Special Children in My Life.

A Picture of the Beau…Um…Special Children in My Life.

Gavin – 35; Honeydaddy – 21 (Why do you want me to suffer, Worm? Why?)

It’s official. The Worm has wiggled his way out of his wormhole and into the still of the night.

I’m assuming that the majority of crib escapes happen under complete darkness.  As a parent, I imagine rolling over in the middle of the night and opening my eyes to note the time on the bedside clock.  Instead of numbers, I see a set of piercing eyes hovering 3 feet off the ground. I jump to the other side of the mattress and huddle behind my wife to protect my body and limbs from attack.  I look harder and see disheveled hair and a shiny object.  I yelp…in a manly way…as a signal for everyone in the house to wake up and run for safety. Then I realize that it’s only the Worm, who is standing there clutching a night-night book with a reflective mirror cover.  It’s not Chucky coming to take my life, but my own child who has broken out of his cage crib.

Worm’s clever.  He’s been milking this crib thing for all it’s worth.  The dude’s so big now that if he leaned over the railing, he’d probably fall out.  I tried to teach him how to climb out about 6 months ago, but he wasn’t having any of it.  He feigned weakness and lack of coordination.  It was a very believable, Oscar quality performance.  I bought it hook, line, and sinker.  I left the idea alone afterwards.

Realistically, there’s no reason for him to leave, once he’s put to bed.  Every beckon call is immediately answered with a “Yes, sir? More ice for your water? Could we bring you some games for your evening pleasure? Or perhaps a night time book? A song? 10 touch-me’s? A foot rub? Maybe we could offer you some freshly peeled and sliced apples?”  When he calls to use the potty, he’s answered within seconds.  Sometimes, he’ll get carried straight to the bathroom toilet, his feet never having to touch the floor.  Some people will pay big money for this kind of room service…and I think he knows he’s getting it for free!

He’s 3 and a half now. It’s probably about time for him to move out of the crib and into a bed. Some people think we waited too long, others think we should wait until he’s 18.  I’m just happy I got to be the first to see him climb out. He just called me into his room to take him to the potty, and I was standing there talking to him. He flashed a wry smile and began to survey his surroundings. Then all of a sudden, he hoisted himself up and out.  As I said before, this is something that I think most parents don’t get to see when it happens the very first time. So, I think it’s pretty cool.  Seeing the pride in his face as he successfully swung both legs over the top and plunked each foot down on the carpet of freedom was awesome. We exchanged high fives, cigars and discussed other techniques should he ever find himself trapped inside a crib against his own will.

I got video of the encore presentation, as I was clapping and screaming for more!  He did not disappoint. BTW, we are still working on doing pee pee and poopie on the same potty visit.

Gavin – 34; Honeydaddy – 21 (I think we each should get a point here.  Worm gets one point for taking advantage of his free crib service.  I’ll take a point for being in the right place at the right time! It’s time to convert the crib to a bed…)

I’m being replaced by a handheld video game.

The Worm loves me a lot.  Well, he used to love me a lot.  We’re each udders best fwends.  He tells me probably 10 times a day that he loves me and/or he wants to give me a hug.  It’s an awesome feeling and I’d like to see how long it will last.  If you would have asked me last week, I would have guessed we’d be together for years.  But, I think we’ve done something to inadvertently shortened the span of our best fwendship…maybe onto the order of days.

I know that one day my little Wormie is going to leave me for another best friend.  And I hope it will be for someone that will treat him well and love him for who he is, not just for his extreme good looks and chiseled jaw that he received from his dear old dad.  I didn’t know that this new friend would be come so soon.  And on top of that, it’s not even human.  He or she is now an ‘it’.  And it is in the form of a Leap Frog LeapPad 2.

We’ve had the LeapPad 2 for over a year.  My side of the family gave it to Worm as a gift.  I watched for that entire year plus as he would take the stylus and stab the poor thing in the screen, swing it overhead by the cord, and smash it into the coffee table repeatedly.  It survived.  (It may be able to last through a nuclear winter.)  Last week, Worm actually started to use it as directed.  He loves the thing now.  A lot.

So, yesterday we’re driving along and Worm’s sitting in the back playing his game console.  We go over some bumpy road in my truck while he’s trying to draw some figures on the LeapPad screen.  Apparently, the bumps were enough to shake up our relationship.  Being the loquaciously honest son he is, Worm got something off his chest.

“Honeydaddy, I love you.  But now I only sort of love you because I can’t do my Leap Frog when you drive over bumpy bumps and that makes me sad.  Now I only sort of love you.”


This is what love looks like, I suppose.

I know technology is replacing humans on some level, but they’re already operating on the emotional level?

Gavin – 32; Honeydaddy – 20 (I’m almost obsolete…and he’s only 3.5 years old.  When computers start changing diapers, I’ll be completely useless.  *Sigh*)

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