July 31, 2013

Favorites (Age 6)

A List of Sippy Cup's Favorite Things (Age 6)

Favorite Movie - Despicable Me 2

Favorite Book - The Mighty Avengers: An Origin Story

Favorite Toy - Skylanders Giants (Video Game)

Favorite Color - Red

Favorite Baseball Team - Atlanta Braves

July 30, 2013

Stand-Up Routine

Sippy Cup: "Hey Dad. Why can't the giraffe ride in the car?"

Me: "Wait. Is this a joke? I'm confused."

Sippy Cup (giggling): "Yeah. So why can't the giraffe ride in the car?"

Me: "I don't know."

Sippy Cup (jumping up and down): "Because his neck is too long!"

Me (scrunching my forehead in confusion): "Uhm, I don't think you know how jokes work."

Sippy Cup: "Yes I do. Why can't the giant sit in your house?"

Me: "Okay. I'm game. Let's try this again. I don't know. Why can't the giant sit in my house?"

Sippy Cup (giggling maniacally): "Because he's too big and fat!"

Me: "You, my good sir, are silly."

Sippy Cup (laughing): "I'm so hilarious!"

July 29, 2013

Conversations With My Daughter (1)

My daughter is 2 years-old. Sometimes we talk. It never makes any sense.

Princess Teacup: "Daddy.  Where Mommy go?"

Me: "To the supermarket baby."

Princess Teacup (confused): "The supermarcus?"

Me: "Close.  The supermarket."

Princess Teacup: "Why?"

Me: "She went to do the food shopping."

Princess Teacup: "Oh my God."

Me: "What happened?"

Princess Teacup (pointing to the floor): "Look Daddy!"

Me (looking down): "I don't see what you're pointing to..."

Princess Teacup: "I want pickle."

Me: "I don't think you should be eating a pickle at 9:30 in the morning."

Princess Teacup: "I want pickle."

Me: "Fine. Let's go to the kitchen."

Princess Teacup (laughing): "You silly Daddy!"

Me: "This is confusing."

Princess Teacup (in a sing-song lilt): "I'm gonna eat bananas!"

July 25, 2013

My 5 New Jobs Since I Became a Dad

When you become a father, you have a vague understanding of the responsibilities that lay ahead of you: diaper changing, late-night feedings, anything and everything your wife tells you to do since (admittedly) she worked a lot harder throughout the pregnancy, etc.

What I was not prepared for, however, were the additional responsibilities that you unexpectedly inherit once you become a Dad.  However, while you may not be prepared for these new roles that you assume as a Dad, you eventually learn how to get them done (or you learn how to find the YouTube videos which will teach you the proper way to get them done).

With that in mind, here is my list of the 5 new jobs I've inherited since I became a Dad.

1. Exterminator - I'm not a fan of bugs. Never have been, never will be. Do you know those little boys that like to dig up worms and catch fireflies and start fires?  I was not one of those little boys. Do you want to know who cares about my serious aversion to insects? Not a single individual in my household. Whenever there is the slightest hint of the presence of any insect (i.e. a ladybug, a mosquito, a lazer-powered water bug, etc.), it is expected that I will hunt down said beast and slay it whilst armed with one broom handle and two house slippers. One time, after a particularly rainy evening, I awoke to find a water bug in the hallway. I already knew what was expected of me and calmly told my wife to keep the kids in the room. She locked the door and I went to war. 12 minutes later, I emerged victorious. I may have knocked over a few photo frames onto my head (my memory, for some reason, is a bit hazy) but the fact remains that I accomplished my task. Was it a task I was prepared for? No. But someone had to do it.

2. Ghost Hunter - Sometimes, late at night, my children will hear a strange sound coming from the living room. At this point, it is expected that I will get up to investigate. Before returning to the comfort of my bed, I must debrief them as to the exact location of the strange sound, the precise cause of the strange sound and the list of measures that I have taken to prevent the strange sound from happening again. Thankfully, I have not discovered the presence of any ghosts in my house.  What I have discovered, coincidentally, is that the M.O.M. does not find it funny when I purposely take longer than I should and try to sneak back into the room and whisper "Boo!". As it turns out, hiding and scaring your wife (a native [read: violent] New Yorker) is a terrible idea.

3. Security Specialist & Personal Bodyguard - somewhat related to #2 except that this job is assigned to me whenever we leave the house.  I have to be aware of our surroundings at all times, know the exact location of all safety exits and be mindful of any roaming lions or alligators or zombies.  In addition to this, I should be able to "...tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside and, at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking..." Or maybe that's Jason Bourne.  Either way, same difference.

4. Butler - this one is pretty obvious. My children make late night demands and I do their bidding. One time, I tried to ignore Princess Teacup's requests.  This was the same night that I learned that she had taught herself how to climb out of her crib.  This was also the night that I learned that she could move swiftly and silently in the cover of darkness and sneak up next to me. She might be Talia al Ghul but I could be wrong.

5. Handy Man & General Contractor - I'm a writer.  Almost by definition, this means "power tools" are a mystery to me similar to "muscle cars" and "rugby" and "tents". Since becoming a father, however, I have taught myself how to fix a toilet, re-wire electrical outlets, and build every single piece of IKEA furniture ever made. Even more impressive is the fact that I have managed to accomplish all of these tasks without requiring a trip to the emergency room.

Well, there you have it.  The Top 5 New Jobs I've taken on since I became a Dad.  

I'm sure this list will continue to grow. And I'll be sure to come back and update you as soon as it happens.

July 24, 2013

With Her Eyes

The M.O.M. and I were watching a movie the other night.

In one particular scene, the couple attends a cocktail party and one of them (in a moment of unabashed jealousy) shoots the other a very specific "look".

Me (sitting up): "Whoa.  That was uncanny. I recognize that look."

M.O.M. (reclined with her head on my lap): "Yep. You should."

Me: "No. Seriously. That was unbelievable. That's the same look you give me all the time. I know that look."

M.O.M. (nodding and looking up at me): "Yes. It's me, punching you in the face.  With my eyes."

July 22, 2013

The Difference

When I explain to people that I write on this site, I often go to great lengths to try and explain why this site is "different".

The obvious answer is that this is a personal site, one that is dedicated to my experiences as a husband and a father to the three most important people in my life.

Nevertheless, as this site continues to grow, I have begun to find it necessary to specify how we are different from other "daddy blogs".  This is especially important when describing the site to new readers who have no idea who we are and what we are about.

Why are we different?  There are a variety of reasons and it seems that I find a new one every day.

My approach to parenting is not novel or ground-breaking or new.  It isn't solely a "top-down" view of parenting, wherein my wife and I lay down the rules and demand respect; to us, parenting is a collaborative experience, one in which their opinion and preferences and desires are just as important as ours.

To me, parenting is a mutual learning experience.  My children and I are getting to know one another as we all grow up and mature and evolve as human beings.  While I know that I want to show my kids all of the different things I enjoy, I also want to make sure that I take the time to enjoy all the different things that they love.  

However, while I do know that I want this experience to be a collaborative effort, I also understand that I am responsible for laying down a framework of rules and expectations so that they learn to be mature and respectful adults.  Once again, even in this regard, my approach is not novel or ground-breaking of new: I show my children the respect they have earned and deserve so that they, in turn, can show me the same level of respect.  

On this site, I embrace the many different versions of "daddy" that I have become. Some versions are better than others.  And that is okay.  Because, while this site is a memory book for my children to enjoy when they are older, it is also a reminder to all parents (current and potential) that you have to find your own answer to the question: just how in the hell am I going to raise these kids?

Why are we different?  Because we recognize that we make plenty of mistakes; because we are aware that our children are little human beings with their own view of their world; and because we are willing to admit that what we do is not novel or ground-breaking or new.  

July 19, 2013

The Creative Block

Some of you may have noticed that we have an amazing new banner image (see above right) on the site.

And (if you are long-time fans) you will recognize that it was drawn by our resident creative genius, Jonathan Mejia.

Since he is my cousin, I am sure you will make the logical assumption that my opinion of his talent is slightly biased; however, you would be wrong.  My opinion of Jonathan is based on fact.  His talent is other-worldly.

People often tell me that my writing is "...amazing..." and "...impressive..." and "...so funny I laughed until my stomach hurt! Why don't you have a book deal?!" (When you tell yourself these things, while doing a Stuart Smalley-style daily affirmation, it still counts...right?)  However, Jon's artistic talent is truly mind-blowing.

I just put words together and, sometimes, they're funny or poignant or delicious.  By comparison, this man actually creates things, completely out of thin air!  He takes a blank sheet of paper, thinks of something and then--BOOM--it's on the page.  I don't create words; I mean, I could, but then it wouldn't make any kind of sensification.  See what I mean?

Anyway, Jon has a new website: The Creative Block.

Click the link and visit his personal site so that you too can view his work, recognize his inherent skill and hire him for all of your drawing, cartooning and graphic design needs.

I am so incredibly proud of him; click on The Creative Block and you'll see why.

It will be the most bodastical thingnizzle you do today.

July 16, 2013

A Better Place

I have debated writing this post since Saturday night.  Partly because I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to let the initial feelings of outrage subside and partly because I was not sure I had anything of merit to add to the conversation.

I do not overestimate my position in the world.  I am a father who, out of boredom and opportunity, created a site for his children to enjoy in their future years.  Nevertheless, not speaking about the shooting of Trayvon Martin began to feel strangely disrespectful.  

What bothers me about the verdict of the case is the legal precedent it establishes, the fact that future defense attorneys can refer to this moment as an example when the jury supported their argument. What concerns me is the message it sends to the citizens in "Stand Your Ground" states that you have the right to take it upon yourself to ignore the instructions of trained professionals, to aggressively stalk someone, to initiate a confrontation and then murder them because you feel threatened by the situation you helped to manifest.

I'm not sure why this was the "a-ha" moment for so many people.  Why this case (and its subsequent verdict) received so much attention as compared to the fact that, for the past few years, there has been a war waged in the streets of Chicago. However, I'm slowly beginning to realize that the lack of national outrage at the death of innocent kids in urban centers across America is a separate issue. The issue is thematically related to Tryavon's death, certainly, but they are separate.  And just because the deaths of other innocent children has not received the same level of national media coverage and public outcry does not mean that people are wrong for mobilizing now.

Sippy Cup is light-skinned with hazel eyes and fine, strawberry-blond hair.  The reality is that my son will most likely never have to be subjected to racial profiling.  Nevertheless, I am scared.  I am scared for my friends, for their kids, for my nephew and for my godson, a sweet, loving, supremely intelligent, caramel-skinned young man who lives in Florida.

Tragic moments like these terrify me.  But I cannot let my own fears paralyze me into complacent immobility or, even worse, cynical acceptance.  And so here I am, trying to make sense of this tragedy in the best way I know how.  Trying to find the words to explain to the future version of my children why this happened and why we have to work hard to do whatever is in our power to make sure it never happens again.  My job as their father is to teach my children respect, kindness, compassion and love.  My job is to leave this world a better place than I first found it and I plan to do so by raising two children who will not be afraid of someone simply because of the color of their skin.

I am not a lawyer. I am not a politician. I am not an activist. I am not Trayvon Martin.

I am a father.  And, out of respect to the entire Martin family, I will make sure I do my job.

July 15, 2013

The Good Men Project (2)

In a bit of decidedly unexpected (but exciting) news, I am happy to announce that I am an official Staff Writer for The Good Men Project.

This will afford me the opportunity to submit longer articles about the realities of modern parenthood while saving all of the everyday madness and lunacy of our "life-at-home" stories for the Sippy Cups and Cufflinks site.

Please stay tuned to both sites for more of my awesome Internetz words.

- Mr. Cufflinks

July 12, 2013

Capital U

M.O.M. (reading from a Brain Quest card): "How much is 7 minus 5?"

Sippycup: "Two!"

M.O.M.: "Good job.  Now, which word does NOT belong here: dog, rabbit, gerbil, tiger?"

Sippycup (creasing his forehead in concentration): "That's weird.  Uhm...the tiger!  Because you can't keep it as a pet!"

M.O.M. (smiling proudly): "Nice!  Next question: What is the capital of the United States of America?"

Sippycup (grinning broadly): "The U!"

Me (nodding my head): "Yep."

July 11, 2013

Adult Activities

-Princess Teacup and Sippy Cup are raucously playing in the background-

M.O.M. (prepping dinner in the kitchen): "Oh my God, these kids are driving me crazy today."

Me (anxiously awaiting dinner in the kitchen): "Just today?"

M.O.M. (turning to face me): "Seriously. I need to do an adult activity soon or I'm going to lose my mind."

Sippy Cup (walking into the kitchen): "What's an adult activity?"

M.O.M. (with no hesitation): "Drinking."

July 8, 2013

The Good Men Project

Over the holiday weekend, Sippy Cup and I did a lot of memorable things.

We went to a baseball game, saw a fireworks show, went to the beach, saw Despicable Me 2, went to a birthday party and even had the energy left over on Sunday to update the layout of the site some more.

While I promise there will be photos of the baseball game posted very soon, I do have a bit of exciting news to share: I have had three separate articles published on the Good Men Project.

The Good Men Project is a fantastic site dedicated to advancing the social dialogue concerning modern manhood and fatherhood.  As they write in their About Us section:

"Guys today are neither the mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be. Our community is smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded; they strive to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace, and to understand their role in a changing world. The Good Men Project is a place where that happens. We’re glad to have you along for the ride."

I have been a fan of the Good Men Project for quite some time and was really humbled when I learned they were interested in running my pieces.  This has been a great opportunity and I hope to submit new work in the future.

Click on the links above to read the pieces and to check out the rest of the site; if you're a fan of my site, then there is a really good chance you'll be a fan of The Good Men Project as well.

And, now, back to our regularly scheduled madness; Princess Teacup is currently climbing onto my lap and trying to shut the laptop screen since it's "Bedtime Daaeee!"