April 30, 2010

Michael Goldmill

I'm generally a pretty happy dude.  I recognize that I have a lot to be thankful for and am grateful for the experiences that have come my way so far. 

Nevertheless, I also have my off days, days when the proverbial glass is not only half-empty but the other half has been spilled all over the kitchen counter top.

Thankfully, I have an antidote ready for when the poison strikes.

He's only 3 years-old.  He has no idea what an "off day" is.  But he's the best corner man I could have ever hoped for.

Thanks lil dude.  Daddy loves you.  Now please put the eggs back in the fridge. 

April 29, 2010

The Natural

Growing up in New York City, I was a professional player of "That's My Car". 

If you are unfamiliar with the game, the rules are rather straightforward: you point to any vehicle you see and yell out "That's my car!" before anyone else can, thereby laying an imaginary claim to the car.

The game is simple.  The game is fun.  There are, I'm sure, multiple different versions of it played around the world (for example, I also used to play "That's Your Car!" with my cousins and, you can safely assume, that the car pointed at was not one any self-respecting child would ever want to own).

Today, Lil Sippy Cup and I played "That's My Car" for the first time.  Being an expert with 20+ years of playing experience, I took it easy on him, slowing down my mongoose-like reaction times to compensate for his lack of familiarity with the game. 

I pointed at a black BMW 645.  He stared out the window.

I pointed at a silver Infiniti G35.  He looked at me in silence.

I pointed at a red Lexus IS.  He kept his eyes fixed out the window.

At this point, I was beginning to think that he didn't understand the rules of the game and was about to walk away from the couch.  Suddenly he pointed out the window and yelled "That's mine!"

He was pointing at an airplane.

And, just like that, in a move filled with the subtle grace of a prodigy, Lil Sippy Cup became the Grand Master of "That's My Car".

April 28, 2010

The Big Boy

Earlier today, I was sitting at the dining room table, aimlessly wandering around the Internet, when I heard the familiar light-footed stride of my son walking down the hallway.

Me: "Hey little dude.  What's up?"

Lil Sippy Cup: "Hey Dad."

Lil Sippy Cup comes around the table's edge and is now in full view.

Me: "Oh, you don't have pants on.  That's interesting."

Lil Sippy Cup (looking down at his outfit): "Yes, it is."

Me: "Just out of curiosity, why don't you have pants on?"

Lil Sippy Cup: "Because I took them off."

Me (putting my head down and lightly rubbing my temples): "I guess that makes sense."

Lil Sippy Cup (sweetly patting me on the leg): "Its ok Dad.  Don't worry.  You're a big boy."

My only hope is that one day, in the distant future, Lil Sippy Cup's children will be able to look back at these moments and fully appreciate why their grandfather refuses to wear pants when he comes over to visit.

April 27, 2010

Mr. Cufflink Got A Brand New Bag

Actually, a brand new camera.  And, yes, its officially the greatest gift I've ever gotten.  Here's the inaugural photo.

Its a dSLR.  However, Lil Sippy Cup is convinced its actually an evil Decepticon from the Transformers Universe. 

I've tried to convince him otherwise but its not going so well.

April 26, 2010

Maestro Does Know

I think one of the most important things that I have learned while going through this new experience of being a stay-at-home dad has been that someone younger than you can provide hours of inspiration. 

I think we are conditioned to believe that our role models or our heroes are supposed to be older than us because, due to their age, they have a wealth of experience and wisdom that we just do not have access to.

Inspirational people, however, are different.  Inspiration defies convention, does not stay within the boundaries of cultural construct or societal expectation.  It can come from anywhere and from anyone and at any time.

Levi Maestro is one of my inspirations.  He is someone who has learned to pursue his dreams in spite of whatever doubts or obstacles may have been placed in his path.  And, most importantly, he has remained infectiously positive throughout the entire experience.  He has retained the sense of humble awe we are all born with and has turned his love of life and his keen artistic sense into a wildly successful career.

I recently wrote Maestro an email to just say "Thank You" for, essentially, being so awesome.

In an unanticipated turn of events, he emailed me back.

Which, in turn, led to this: http://maestroknows.com/2010/04/what-life-is-about/

I remember before Lil Sippy Cup was born, I had all these grand visions of him being a professional baseball player. 

Now that we are both older and wiser and thanks to that rare breed of human being like Levi Maestro, I just want him to do whatever makes him happy.  And maybe ride a skateboard while he's at it.

April 25, 2010


Being a stay-at-home dad, I like to help out around the house, doing the chores that (a) I know how to do properly and (b) have the smallest risk of personal injury or accidental poisoning.

Lil Sippy Cup likes to help out as well.  Like when he offers to clean the glass-top coffee table.

And, just in case you're curious, this is what a Gyrinocheilus is. 

April 24, 2010

What I Learned Today (4)

Today, I learned that my desire to watch a movie or television is directly proportional to Lil Sippy Cups' desire to suddenly speak to me or watch his entire Thomas the Tank Engine DVD collection.  This means that, as soon as I sit on the couch to watch a NBA playoff game, Lil Sippy Cup interprets this to mean that, actually, it's time to watch Thomas and Friends: Hero of the Rails for the 37th time.

April 23, 2010

Natural Born Photog

Lil Sippy Cup has been a devoted fan of my digital camera since he was first able to control his hands in a civilized manner.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before...yes, I have.  Regardless, although it is a simple point-and-shoot, I try my best to keep it safe.  And by "safe", I mean "out of his hands".

Sometimes, I'll hear him rummaging through the drawers, then a few seconds of silence, followed by a few minutes of giggling after which he'll come running out of the room laughing maniacally.

That's when I'll go and make sure he hasn't started a fire under the bed or something equally as disastrous.  When there is nothing blatantly wrong under the bed or with the room in general, I'll check my camera. 

And that's when I'll find shots like these in there.

The bright side, of course, is that at the very least, he's kind of good at it.  And he knows how to put it in focus.

April 22, 2010

The Tangled Web

Lil Sippy Cup is a big fan of bath time.  Since he enjoys personal nudity to an embarrassing degree, I guess this shouldn't surprise me (bath time is the one occasion where I actually insist that he remove his clothes).

I've learned to keep the water level rather low after a wildly disastrous incident where I thought it would be a good idea to replicate a mini-pool in the bathtub.  In my defense, I thought a deep water level would make it more fun to play with his favorite bath toy, "Boatie", the speed boat.  Lil Sippy Cup, however, thought the deep water level meant that climbing onto the ledge of the bath tub to do a "splash down" (as he called it) was not only justified but required.  Lesson learned.

Nevertheless, even with the lowered water levels, Lil Sippy Cup has found a way to keep bath time interesting and, of course, mildly dangerous. 

Me: "Okay, bath time is over.  Let's get you out."

Lil Sippy Cup nods Yes.

Me: "Are you doing another silent protest?  Because, if you are, that's perfectly fine with me."

Lil Sippy Cup shakes his head No.

Me: "Wait a second.  Is your mouth full?"

Lil Sippy Cup nods Yes.

Me: "Dude, are you really drinking the bath water?!"

Lil Sippy Cup (swallows): "No."

And, with that conversation ladies and gentlemen, we have entered into a new stage of early childhood development. 

Lil Sippy Cup has discovered lying.

April 20, 2010

Be Happy

As part of his birthday extravaganza, Lil Sippy Cup received a pair of helium balloons.

As expected, they have become weapons.

The irony of getting hit in the face with this particular balloon has not been lost on me.

April 19, 2010

Style Timeout - Polo Shirt

With the summer months and PGA tours around the proverbial bend, men everywhere will soon begin to embrace polo shirts.  These short-sleeved, cotton shirts could easily be called golf shirts or tennis shirts, since they are used in all 3 sports, but, for the sake of clarity, I will refer to them as polo shirts.

For those of you who are interested, Rene Lacoste, the French 7-time Grand Slam Tennis Champion who was nicknamed "the Crocodile", is credited with designing the first version of the shirt.  It was short-sleeved, made from a pique cotton (pique refers to the type of weaving used and makes the shirt more "breathable") and had a longer shirt tail in the back to prevent the shirt from coming out of his tennis shorts as he bounded up and down the courts (feel free to read more about it here).  Eventually, Lacoste would turn his stylish design ideas into an apparel company in 1933.  And thus was born Lacoste

As it turns out, Lacoste makes my favorite polo shirt and the one I tend to buy season after season.  Why Lacoste?  Their recent versions of the polo shirt come with a trimmer cut, slimmer sleeves, and without a ridiculous shirt tail.  What does this all translate into?  A shirt that fits better than most, won't make you look like you're swimming in a sea of cotton and looks great both tucked into your flat-front khakis or un-tucked with your jeans.

Here's a photo of the black version I own:

Image courtesy of Nordstrom

And, just in case you're a visual learner, here's an illustration; try your best to look like the guy on the left (Camillo Villegas) and not the guy on the right (Vijay Singh).

Even better, here's a video from the guys at GQ with step-by-step instructions on how to upgrade your golf style completely, with specific tips on slimmer cut polo shirts.

April 18, 2010

Dragon in Training

As part of their promotions for the new DreamWorks movie How To Train Your Dragon, you can now turn a McDonald's Happy Meal Box into a Viking helmet.

I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea...

April 17, 2010

The Negotiator

As you all know, Lil Sippy Cup celebrated his 3rd birthday yesterday.

After an evening of having cake for dinner and gummy bears for dessert, bedtime was, to say the least, interesting.

Me: "Ok lil dude, time for bed."

Lil Sippy Cup: "Nope."

Me: "Oh, you must've thought this was up for debate.  I can appreciate your confusion."

Lil Sippy Cup: "Can I take one toy to my Big Boy Bed?"

Me: "No, I think you should focus on sleeping tonight."

Lil Sippy Cup: "Ok."

Me: "Thanks."

Lil Sippy Cup (smiling broadly): "How about 5 toys?"

His negotiating tactics are not that great.  Or maybe they're superb.  I guess it depends on your perspective. 

April 15, 2010

Memory Lane

Lil Sippy Cup officially turns 3 tomorrow.  I know I have referred to him as a 3 year-old already but that's because calling him a 2 and 11 month year-old for the past month would have been terrible.  I wasn't a Math major.  Leave me alone.

I also wasn't a Biology major, so human growth and development happens through the awesome power of magic for me.

Regardless, going from this...

...to this...

is pretty damn cool.

April 14, 2010

Camera Flash

A few months ago, I asked Lil Sippy Cup to pose for "a nice picture for Grandma".

This is what he gave me:

A split-second later, he did one of these:

While neither of these met my standards of a "nice picture", they illustrate his personality better than I ever could.  And, for the record, his Grandma loved both of them.  But she's slightly biased.

April 13, 2010

What I Learned Today (3)

Today, I learned that when I hear a deafening crash, followed by a thunderous boom, and my son shouts out "I'm okay!" what he really means to say is "Dude!  You have GOT to come and see how close we just came to going to the hospital!"

April 12, 2010

Style Timeout - Aviator Sunglasses

Lil Sippy Cup loves the sunlight.  My eyes, on the other hand, do not.  I'm not an underground cave-dweller or anything but my eyes are a bit sensitive to sunlight.  To strike a comfortable balance between my need to keep an eye on him as he frolics in the park while simultaneously not melting my eyeballs, I wear sunglasses.

As with all of my style/accessory choices, I've given this a good amount of thought.  Through trial and error and more than a few instances of public embarrassment, I have finally figured out what my favorite style of sunglasses are: the Aviators.

Aviator sunglasses are a style of sunglasses developed by Ray-Ban in 1936 for use by military fighter pilots.  However, when General Douglas MacArthur landed on the beaches of the Philippines during World War II wearing a pair of Aviators, the American public fell in love with them.  Eventually, the glasses were released to the general public in 1938.  They then enjoyed another rise in popularity several years later as style-conscious celebrities such as Steve McQueen, Robert Redford and Tom Cruise wore them both in their films and off-set as well.

The great thing about the Aviators is that (as with my previous style posts) they are subtle, classic and look great on any type of face.  Whether you have strong, chiseled features, a long and narrow head, or a flabby gelatinous mold sitting on top of your neck, these sunglasses will look good on you.  The Ray-Ban aviators are also suprisingly affordable and come in a wide-range of lens type, frame material, and color combinations.

Here is a photo of the gold-wire frames that I own:

Photo Courtesy of Zappos

It is an unfortunate reality that most dads I see in the playground are usually wearing some oddly shaped glasses more suited for either (a) bicycling through the French Alps or (b) fighting Agent Smith as you try to save the world.  Ultimately, I say, to each his own; nevertheless, for my personal tastes, I'd rather remind people of this guy as opposed to this one.

April 11, 2010

Pet Bandit

I woke up this morning, as I do on most mornings, with Lil Sippy Cup staring at me.

Me: "Lil dude. Good morning."

Lil Sippy Cup: "Daddy, I want a pet."

Me: "Ok, sure, we should probably eat breakfast first though.  What kind of pet do you want?"

Lil Sippy Cup: "I have no idea."

Me: "Well, that's a problem.  How about a puppy?"

Lil Sippy Cup: "How about a raccoon?!"

I wish I could be making this stuff up.  As it turns out, he's not the first person to have this idea.  I still haven't decided if that makes me feel any better about his choice.

April 10, 2010

Sippy Cup Rex

There is a scene in Ridley Scott's Award-winning film Gladiator that has always resonated with me.

Marcus Aurelius and his son, Commodus, are in the emperor's field quarters, celebrating the final Roman victory against the Germanic barbarians.  Commodus, fully expecting to be made emperor upon his father's death, paces the floor, doing his best to contain his nervous excitement.  Marcus Aurelius, however, has other plans for his beloved empire; plans that do not involve having a psychopath at the helm.

The scene progresses, the drama unfolds, the tension builds and Commodus, utterly despaired and confused by his father's decision, says to him, "All I've ever wanted was to live up to you, Caesar.  Father."

The emperor, in turn, responds with, "Commodus.  Your faults as a son are my failures as a father."

I love that quote.  Those words have helped to guide me along this intense journey called fatherhood.  They remind me to push harder, to do better, to lead by example, all in the humble hope that my actions will help make my son into a smarter man, a sincere gentleman, and an overall decent human being.

Of course, the scene does end with Commodus murdering his father.

So I'm also trying really hard to make sure that my last scene plays out a little differently.

April 8, 2010

Paternity Tests

I've learned that the truest tests of fatherhood don't happen in the big moments, like when he's arguing over toys or stealing forks from diners

They happen in the little moments, when no one else is really paying attention.  Like when you patiently answer 73 questions during the 5 minute walk to the playground. 

Or when you teach your son the proper way to eat every last bit of his coconut icee.

Son of Zeus

In the months leading up to my son's birth, I outlined for myself what kind of dad I was going to be.  I had decided that I would be a nice combination of "cool" and "strong draconian disciplinarian", that I would rule with a mighty but righteous hand, like a much younger version of Zeus.

Then I found out he could make this face at will.

Soon after, I realized that part of being a good father means finding the strength to say "No" even when you really, really, really want to say "Yes".

And for those of you who might be curious, he was crying because he wanted the camera.  I took the picture and then gave him the camera.  I told you I'd be righteous.

April 7, 2010

Blowin' in the Playground Wind

Stay-at-home dads have a bad reputation.  Actually dads, in general, have a bad reputation.  We're often portrayed as the Cro-Magnon oaf, fresh out of the primordial ooze, barely capable of changing a diaper or preparing a meal.  I won't allow myself to comment on this today.  Maybe in the future.  But not today.

I will however post these awesome pictures of Lil Sippy Cup, at the playground, having the time of his life.

He screamed and laughed...

...we found a way to practice his counting...

...and right now, we're back home and he's happy, he's clean, he's well-fed, and, as I type this, he's taking a nap.

By Lil Sippy Cup's count, that makes the score Me - 1.  Stereotypes - 0.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cufflink

This morning, I found Lil Sippy Cup staring at the aquarium he had built with his mom; you know, the masterpiece of pre-K artistic expression they patiently created last week?

Seeing as how she had to go back to work today, I figured he was thinking about her and missing her while staring at the aquarium with pride and love.

Standing next to him by the window sill, enjoying the morning silence, I felt a slight tug on my tee shirt.

I looked down and, while holding the aquarium firmly in his hands and staring up at me, he said "Daddy, can we eat this now?"

I'm still not quite sure how to process this latest conversation.  But it's pretty clear to me that, after a brief hiatus, Mr. Hyde is back in town.

April 6, 2010

Patiently Waiting

When I look at this picture and I think about this morning's attack, it becomes pretty obvious that he had been planning it for quite some time now.  It also becomes pretty obvious that letting him play with boxing gloves when he was younger was probably not a good idea.

Lil Van Helsing

Lil Sippy Cup and I have this game we have played since he first started crawling around the house. 

Some people would call it "Hide and Seek" but we call it "AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I'M A MONSTER!"

The premise is simple: one of us hides, the other one seeks, and, when the hidee is found, he jumps out and screams "AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I'M A MONSTER!" while chasing the seeker.

We have been playing this game for 2 and a half years now and the rules have never been modified in any way. 

Until this morning.

I hid.  Lil Sippy Cup found me.  I jumped out and screamed "AAARRRGGGHHH! I'M A MONSTER!"  Lil Sippy Cup promptly punched me in the shin and ran away.

As I sit here, gingerly rubbing the expanding knot on my leg, I realize our imaginary games will have to include new rules.  Or safety equipment at the very least.

April 5, 2010

Style Timeout - The Tank Watch

As a new parent, you do not initially realize just how important the concept of time is to the proper development of your child.  Not only does time dictate feeding times and nap times, it will also let you know that, no matter what your son says, he has indeed been swinging on the monkey bars for 17 minutes straight.

That's why having a great watch is so important.  As a man, I know that the natural inclination is to gravitate towards the chunky watches with 32 dials, 14 time zones, and a laser beam.  While these achievements of chronological magnificence are, I'm sure, useful in certain situations, the harsh reality is that I am neither (a) a deep-sea diver nor (b) a secret agent.

Therefore, my personal choice in recent years has been the Tank watch.

To be specific, the "Tank" is actually the name of the style of watch created by the famous French watchmaker Louis Cartier in 1917.  The Cartier Tank, a watch inspired by the rectangular lines and precise proportions of the Allied Forces' tanks in World War I, was eventually perfected in 1919.  As a matter of fact, the steel band edition of the watch was designed to resemble the caterpillar tracks of its armored muse.

Now, obviously, although the Cartier version of the watch is gorgeous, I am in no position to pay close to $5,000 for a watch.  However, the tank style is produced by multiple watch manufacturers and is available in a wide range of prices.  The watch is subtle, graceful and classic and makes the difficult transition from "play-date outfit" to "formal evening wear" with ease.  I wear mine, literally, every single day.

Here is a picture of the version I own, with a leather band, crafted by Seiko:

Photo Courtesy of Amazon

As a parent, I understand that there are more pressing responsibilities than personal style; things like rent, food, and body wash. However, I do not subscribe to the belief that responsible parenting should happen at the expense of fashionable appearance. To me, the easiest solution is to find affordable, classic pieces that will endure both the test of time as well as withstand multiple hits from your son's toy hammer. 

A watch inspired by an armored tank passes both of these tests triumphantly.

A Letter to my Son's Immune System

Thanks for abandoning your post at 12:30am.  You suck.

Mr. Cufflink

April 4, 2010

Easter Buds

I enjoy Easter Sunday because it serves as a reminder that the warmer spring and summer months are on their way.

Lil Sippy Cup loves Easter Sunday because he receives baskets full of toys and candy from his aunts and uncles.  And, as we all know, anything involving free games and sugar is automatically awesome in his book.

Happy Easter everyone.  Excuse me while I go and stop my son from doing forward rolls on the hardwood floor.

What I Learned Today (2)

Today, I learned that when I tell my son "Hey little dude, be careful with that" and he says "I will!" what he really means is "I'm totally going to spill this entire bag of chips on the bed!"

April 3, 2010

Lil Sippy Cup and the Bottle Caps

Lil Sippy Cup runs with a pretty tight crew.  I call them the Bottle Caps.

As the temperature continues to climb with the approaching summer months and, subsequently, as his play-date calendar becomes booked with appointments, I will begin introducing the various members of the squad.

Today's Bottle Caps: AJ (the muscle) and Jayden (the advisor).



In spite of the fact that they are all toddlers (or, perhaps, because they are toddlers), they each have a brutally honest approach to personal communication, a deeply-seeded sense of loyalty, and a true appreciation of mud and potato chips.  They're also really good at sharing which, as I have come to learn, is the foundation of any successful human being.

If the true measure of a man is the company that he keeps, then Lil Sippy Cup is obviously on his way to becoming a pretty amazing man.

Morning Sap

This morning, without any provocation or warning, Lil Sippy Cup turned to his mother and said "I think Daddy is my best-friend."

Those moments, the random ones that last only 7 seconds, are the main reasons why I keep him around.

And they're also why he's my best-friend too...

April 2, 2010

King Of His Hill

Having learned from our trip to the Museum of Natural History (as detailed here), we decided to take Lil Sippy Cup to the playground today.  I figured if a stupefying frozen whale couldn't impress him, then he should be in charge of his own entertainment from now on.

Of course, in classic Lil Sippy Cup fashion, he ran around the playground for a little while, simultaneously testing out both the jungle gym equipment and my reflexes.  However, he grew tired of that rather quickly.

His favorite part of the park?  This random little hill with a flag pole firmly cemented on its peak.

He, literally, ran up and down this hill, laughing and yelling, for 25 minutes straight.

The only other thing that captured his attention in the 55 acre park?  The water fountains of course.

In the end, I learned something really valuable.  No matter how far we may advance in our technological future, nothing will ever beat fresh-air, running around, and screaming like an absolute lunatic.

Breakfast Debate

Lil Sippy Cup and I got into another dispute over what constitutes a legitimate breakfast this morning.

We were in the supermarket, picking up the ingredients we needed in Aisle 2.

I had offered mom-made banana pancakes.

He wanted rice.

I'm proud to say that I was able to prove the validity of my argument to him and win the debate.

Besides, he got distracted by the cereal aisle.

April 1, 2010

Anakin and Shmi

So, remember the other day, how I tried to do Arts & Crafts with Lil Sippy Cup and it quickly morphed into a surprise gladiator attack?  (If you don't, it's ok; you can read the details here). 

Well, today, Lil Sippy Cup did some Arts & Crafts with mommy.  I sat back, a smug and confident smile on my face, quietly waiting for him to turn foam stickers into ninja stars.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when, after an hour or so of Jedi-like focus and concentration, they had created a genuine aquarium out of a plastic container, wire, and foam stickers.

You see, being a teacher, she knows all about these stores which are entirely dedicated to either (a) education, (b) arts/crafts/hobbies or (c) some combination of all of those things. 

Being a genius, she makes sure to buy supplies both for her classroom and for the house.

More importantly, being an amazing mom, she knows that all her 3 year-old son needs is positive reinforcement, motivation and love in order to complete any task confidently, successfully and non-violently.

And what did I do today?  I bought a cactus.

Minimalist Results

Ikea is a marvelous place, full of all the things you never knew you needed but are really glad when you find out they all cost $3.99 a piece.  One of these things you never knew you needed?  A play tent for your 3 year-old son.

I came home with this feat of Swiss engineering, this miracle of structural integrity and minimalist design, and presented it to my son.

Lil Sippy Cup spent the next 3 hours playing with the measuring spoons his mother bought.

I spent the next 3 hours hiding inside a tent.