Tuesday, June 11, 2013

You've got no Ice Cream!

I am not one normally to repost something but in this case I must. It is a simple, clever and sobering look at childhood obesity, consumerism and social norms surrounding it. I am reposting this as believe the author deserve the recognition for such a great article and to raise awareness to the issue.

We live in a very active and healthy city with a near endless supply of activities, sports, pastimes and new adventures offered within a couple of hours of your door step. This is a large part of what I love about this city and why I have chosen to settle here. My wife and I are very active, having played competitive sport our whole lives, coaching, enjoying winter sports, running, biking, hiking, going to the gym, boot camps, climbing, swimming, kayaking and etc. Having not grown up doing much of what I do now it is something I want to share with my kids and have them enjoy it as well, just being outdoors is amazing way to spend your childhood.

We also eat very well, by choice and out of need to keep up our lifestyle. We make a conscience choice not give our kids sugar and food that they do not need. Why does a 2yr old need, chocolate, ice cream or pop? They don’t, adults don't need it, they want it. I am fully aware that my kids will be offered such treats but if you read the above article, where does it stop? I never realised how bad it really was until I read the article. I knew it, I see it but I never really made the connection and it really does make you think. For me it validates what we are doing is the right thing but we do get ostracized by those that offer what is essentially a very nice gesture, all be it a forgone conclusion.

I do feel bad having to refuse them, I feel bad saying "no thanks, she does not eat ice cream" or "she only drinks water". I also feel sorry for them, I wonder why they feel its okay to offer child diabetes on a stick, and we really have normalized this behaviour. Yet, I am the bad guy for saying no thank you.

Our families live between 6 and 15 hrs. flying from us which is both good and bad for several reasons but they tend to be the worse culprits. On a recent trip the Grandparents had given my 2yr old a rather large and well accessorised cookie and a bowl of ice cream, all before lunch. In that respect we are lucky they are not here every day. This was just one day of 14, they sneak it to her behind our back and make no apologies when caught. They do not get to see her as often as we all would like so it really is a treat, it creates a bond and is something they look forward too upon uniting again.

I do have a rule though, if you give my kids sugar, you are responsible for them for the next 2 hrs. I will defend the use of treats in potty training but will leave my stance and argument for another post.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My 2 year old is...

…Fast becoming a toddler though just as lovable and cute but someone that demands more of your time, attention and shallow depths of my parenting skills.

She is now fiercely independent with a will and mind far beyond both of her years but this also gives her the ability to push the boundaries, testing her parents and of course reaping the consequences. Most of the time a pleasure to be around or normal, the definition of normal depends on points I have mentioned previously such as your parenting style, the nature V nurture debate with the addition of external (siblings, pets and etc) and environmental (allergies, living conditions and etc) factors. Your kids can be a shit compared to others and vice versa but that does not mean that is not normal for them. Whatever is normal for your kid they are also at times not normal. As they grow older, wiser and more independent they will test you when they feel like it, when they are tired, cranky, sick, hungry and even when they need to drop a deuce. Being around other kids even for short period of time can alter their behaviour.

Being the youngest of 3 boys from the oldest of 6 boys it became apparent that the youngest got picked on. So at a young and underdeveloped age being the youngest sibling, cousin and grandchild I copped a lot but was not wise enough to understand fully and the only logical way to act out was anger. This translated well later in life to the sporting field and kind of reinforced the point. Using scare tactics, anger and loud voices does work with kids, for a very short period of time.

Reinforcing over and over and over again in a calm manner that we don't bite the dogs ears or give your 5 month old brother raisins will and does work. For me, biting the kids ear in return only validates that biting is OK, you are setting examples and the phrase "monkey see, monkey do" is very much in full effect now. Don't drive with the window down and your arm out of the car because that is all they will want to do

Consequences are essential but must be realistic, effective but most importantly, implemented! I found around 2 is a good time to introduce punishment or repercussions. If your justice is no Elmo for 3 days they will not understand why they can't have Elmo in 3 hrs (or sooner) let alone days. Choose your punishment that is short and immediate to start with and work from there. To say "stop hitting your mother I will cut your arm off", and you don't, you're basically condoning their behaviour. My daughter loves the Park, going to the park to play with the kids, is all she talks about constantly, every day, its paaaainful though a very good bargaining chip. I can get her to do or stop doing anything I want (even tantrums) with the threat of not going to the park. Don't threaten kids if you are not going to follow through.

To say that I have not pinched or bit my kid in return would be a lie, a lie would also be if I thought it was effective. It happens when you are tired, cranky or at your wits end and you have tried everything else but it should not be normal practice. I was hit when I grew up and I see kids these days that perhaps should be or should have been but it is not an effective and sustainable parenting tool/style to raise healthy well balanced adults. I do agree however that in the case of extreme and imminent danger (running onto the road, standing on railings and etc) a smack across the ass can deliver an astute and clear message.

On the flip side you must give credit where credit is due. Praising them when they do something right is also a great tool especially when they do something that you ask of them, praise their listening, and let them know you are happy and proud. Don't be always pointing out the negative as that’s what they will focus on, instead try distracting them with another toy or doll instead of biting the vacuum cleaner cord.

The art of distraction is mightier that the pen and the sword.

Kids are smart, intelligent and observant little miracles and the funny thing is we want them to be so use that to your advantage. Set a good example and not just with them but let them see good behaviour and manners from everyone in the house. Kids are smart and so are you, but the advantage you have is that, you're smarter.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who is your care provider?

The pregnancy and birth first time round is a funny beast. Exciting, a new adventure of learning and anticipation that something huge is about to happen. For me it was "oh we are 4 weeks" or 15 weeks which is no big deal as the majority is yet to come and you still have plenty of time. By 21 weeks it really hits home that you are having a baby. The gravity, inevitability, the responsibility is absolute. I don't know how many time we said, "can you believe that we, are having a baby?' Your child and your wifes belly gets bigger, normal tasks become harder to accomplish as does a good nights sleep.

There are several options available to and you they all have their pros and cons. Each couple are different with their wants, needs and wishes from their provider. There are no wrong answers are there?

First is the family doctor. They are a trusted, well known individuals with a huge scope of practice, a jack of all trades whose knowledge is vast. Deliveries would be something that they do on a somewhat regular basis and would be well versed. GPs however are not specialised in Labour and Delivery as this is not their primary focus. If you want someone you can trust, go for the GP.

OBGYNs, specialist in their fields, well educated, highly trained and paid for that matter and someone you can count on when things turn from good to bad. However when it comes to the birth they generally sneak into the room at the last minute to ensure that all is well and will be gone soon after, as long as everything goes well of course. They can be hard to track down in your moment of need or resting comfortably in their quarters. 

Both times we went with a midwife. With insider knowledge my wife knew exactly which practice and group within the practice she wanted, having worked with the majority of them. It made my experience better knowing that she was comfortable and I had complete trust in them. The appointments become more frequent as the weeks and months pass until the birth. Obviously there are choices to be made as to which practice you will go with but I would recommend the a midwife. They meet you in your home after the labor begins and will be with you until after your child is born. Home visits post delivery is also apart of their service. 

Then there are Doulas. Doulas are labour support and are there to help you through with your "birth plan". It’s all well and good of having a birth plan and a Doula but when the shit hits the fan and things become life and death, literally, both are useless. Most people think of doulas as hippies that gained their certification over a weekend course, burning incense in a darkened room whilst chanting and beating a drum. For the majority of the time, you are correct! Whilst I can see their role in the process and some medical professionals are doulas, the hospital will provide a university & on the job trained, educated labour and delivery nurse that delivers on average between 1-3 babies per shift. Instead, go for someone who knows you, knows what you want and someone that you feel comfortable with. A friend or trusted relative that has been there and done that is a much more logical choice.

Ultimately the choice is yours,  and as long your choice does not make for a harrowing experience and mother and baby are fine then, alls well that ends well.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Time Flies

It has been some time since I last wrote, nigh on 3 months. Such is family life. Not a huge amount of time in reality or geological terms though the difference from a one month old to a 4 month old is astonishing!

We are fortunate to have an incredibly calm and happy baby. Whilst our first was similar we dared not say for fear that this one would prove us wrong though he is a great baby and crying only for food, a change or gas. Otherwise a happy and content little man that could not get more love and affection from his 2 year old sister. Obviously there is the whole Nature Vs Nurture debate and what I know to be true from my family and others I have come to know, kids will reflect the parent’s attitudes, demeanor and zest for life. Whatever that may be, essentially calm parents equal a calm baby (colic and other medical conditions excluded).

His wrinkles have now turned to rolls as he fattens up nicely. From 3 months babies can now take a bottle which is great for the Mom as they are able to spend some time away from the baby which is great for the sanity of the family unit as a whole. Obviously the father assumes more responsibility but is great to be able to get out and about with your little dude.

Life does change with kids and even more so with two kids but it’s important that you bring them with you as you go about your life. You still get to do the things that you want and the kids become more socialised and adaptable to new and different situations and environments. In a world with one child it was great when one partner had them with them as they go about their daily activities, the other would be childless, free to spend their time working, running errands, chores, drinking and watching sport, study or exercising. With two it is near impossible to get time to yourself. Looking back one baby is a breeze!

Two are exponentially busier than one and by my own logic the same for 2 to 3 kids, only time will tell. Two years being the difference, the toddler is inquisitive, rambunctious, boundary pushing and a mimic which makes simple tasks a lot more complicated. Preparing dinner can be a task with the toddler singing, dancing, jumping, stretching and otherwise being an angel entertaining themselves if it were not for the fact that they do this whilst standing over a newborn baby. The dog is going nuts at the fence, the buzzer goes, the phone is ringing all at the precise time you start handling the chicken. The good thing is that you have prepared the bottles, water and formula as there is not much worse than waiting for the water to boil, sterilize and then wait for it to cool down enough to feed your screaming hangry child (about 30 mins).

Don't get me wrong  we have our share of kicking, slapping, biting, toys/books to the side of the head of the new comer so keeping them separated is draining and now as the youngster starts to roll they need to be entertained more and in a safer place. Keeping a baby safe and entertained seems to be mutually exclusive unless you are holding them which makes cooking, sleep, eating, keeping a blog, laundry, work, driving, vacuuming and showering to name a few, near impossible.

As hard as it is, tiring, time consuming and believe it or not it does get stressful, it is incredible. Take the time to spend time with your kids as you won't regret it. When they run down the hall with their arms open and yell DADA as you come home, you soon forget the rest.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oh Poopikins! (Week 3)

I find it intriguing what we as humans and as a society find funny, taboo and inappropriate in everyday life. For some reason growing up I never farted in front of my family, being the youngest I took a lot of my social cues from my older brothers, right and wrong. The old man was more than happy to "let one rip" but I soon learnt that Mom did not like us doing that.

South Park are always making fart jokes as too Family Guy. We get others to "pull our finger" and we are generous in giving others "cupcakes" but yet the majority of society deemed these acts/shows as crass. Though this bodily function is natural, everyone does it, so I have discovered.

Not long after the birth of our first, I discovered that babies fart, a lot. To the point now that my youngest at nearly two years of age, whenever she farts her eyes widen and a smile crosses her face as she searches the room to find someone else to laugh with and acknowledge her air biscuit. Such as the influence we have over our children and their perceptions in life. I must plead guilty in teaching her that this is funny, I think it is. She will even laugh and point at the dog when the dog farts. If I pinched her every time she farted this would create a different response in her, probably a negative one. Nurture-1, Nature-0.

My boy is no different, he farts, though at this stage in life it’s a shart. Sharts are a great indicator of when to change them though it’s best to give it a few minutes to ensure that he is done, otherwise you get to change them again. It was an auspicious moment last night when my little dude farted for the first time without following through, a real milestone in a young life and proud parents to boot.

Now following through will lead us to Bowel Movements, poos, #2, turds, craps, logs, cables, butt drool, lawn sausage...you get the idea. When leaving the hospital you are given a reference card with 6 different photos of baby poo so you can determine the health of your child. Believe it or not they are all different colours and honestly these colours scare me a little. 

Your baby's first couple of poos will be a thick black sticky tar. I guess this is the by-product of the nutrients from the umbilical cord and a build-up of their time in the womb. As odd as this is it is normal. From here it will change to as the baby starts taking colostrum and become more watery and will change yet again when the milk finally kicks in. It now looks more like chunks of curdled milk, again totally normal.

Then came Baby Shit Green. This is actually a colour and surely this cannot be natural for a child or anyone to produce such waste. Never fear as referencing my card it has allayed my fears and I am comforted to know that this is natural. Only time will tell what exciting developments are to follow in my child's excrement.

A wise man once told me that "You have never been drunk until you have crapped yourself and I’ve been drunk 3 times". Now having one of each, both sexes make a terrible mess down there and for now I call it a tie for the lead. Gents if you think you have never crapped yourself that bad that you have shit on your balls and up your back then you are sadly mistaken. This happens a lot when you are young and thankfully the same applies for when you are drunk, you can’t remember it happening.

For the first few months disposable diapers are the way to deal with all of this. Moving forward though with our first we trialled a few different options and found one we liked. Firstly we had a service that was given to us as a gift. A cloth inner that wrapped around the baby and an outer cover that Velcro’s over the top. This was great as all you did was put the diapers in the bin provided and put the bag at your  front door once a week, they were taken away and they leave you new clean ones. As it is difficult to wrap a wiggling baby twice it was a draw back on this method. We found that they leaked a lot and we were doing more laundry as a result. Disposables are expensive and can cost up to $4000 per child until they are potty trained. Technology advances have progressed to a point that training your child is happening latter as they are drier and the parents don't feel the need to change that often nor does the child complain to have your diaper changed. Not mention the environmental impact!

We settled for cloth diapers. These are not a huge cloth folded into a triangle and held together with a pin. (I know, that's what I thought too!) Made locally, they are adjustable, machine washable and styled with various colours, prints and camouflage for the fashion conscience. An absorbable insert is coupled with a waterproof polyurethane backed cover and easily held together with press button studs (I know, I know. In this case I am in favour for the studs). The worst part is cleaning the poo off in the toilet but you soon get over that. Let’s face it, if you don't want to deal with poo, you will neither have a pet nor off spring. We got 17 of these for about $150 and this lasts us about 2 days. There is a bit more laundry to do but not enough you need to do it every day nor does the house smell like crap. The additional waste is zero.

Like most families we got a dog a before we had kids but not for the reasons you think. Having children with my wife was never an issue, we both wanted them. She had seen me with my nieces and deemed me responsible enough. As a medical professional she is trained to deal with bodily fluids and functions but me not so much. Having the dog taught me that I could deal with the avalanche of shit that was soon to come my way. Dog poo is way, way, easier to deal with. 

Our perceptions in the gastrointestinal habits of humans are odd indeed considering that it is a universal practice vital to our survival.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Benjiman Buttonless (week 2)

After a week on the boob our little man is less like Benjamin Button and more like his older sister, it’s amazing the difference a week makes. The extra skin is being filled out nicely. Eyes are opening more as he follows your voice and focuses on you when he is awake.

Babies are incredible chick magnets! If you have the choice, have a baby before you have a wife as women from the wood work will trip, swoon and queue in line for a cuddle. It can be difficult to keep track of your baby as they get passed around the room but with friends at a dinner party it is OK. In a pub setting it’s easier to lose track. Breastfeeding makes it hard to be away from Mom too long without screaming but if they are bottle fed then heading out with some mates for a pint is a good option to give the primary caregiver some rest, as well as earning brownie points for yourself and catching the game. 

I don't mind the baby crying as they are babies and that's what they do. You will spend some time trying to stop your baby crying especially if they are colicky. Mine are not and thank god for that! I pity you if yours is. Tag team is the best way to attack a crying baby and change up often. Give your partner frequent breaks as it can be distressing and wearing on your patience. If you need some time, it is OK to put them down and leave the room. A stressed, frazzled, sleepless and frustrated parent is easily achieved and is no good for anyone. Let them cry it’s what they do!

What I can’t stand is a hungry crying baby because as a man I just want to fix the problem. Whilst my breasts are ample and soft they do not produce milk so any excursion away from the baby for the Mom must be timed to perfection. Singing, walking, or rocking are great to subdue an irritated infant but to buy yourself for some time when they are hungry, offer them the knuckle of your finger as a makeshift nipple for them to suck on.

He is sleeping lots still but what you don't want to do is be quiet to get him or keep him asleep. Get them use to noise while sleeping, the TV, radio or vacuum cleaner, anything that makes noise. To have them able to sleep with noise about is perfect as it will condition them as they get older and ensure you don't become one of those patronizing parents that say, "shhh our baby is sleeping". Adapt your child to your life, bring them with you, and throw them under the table at a restaurant or pub. You are the parent and in charge, you need to get out and you need continue your life as normal or your wife will go crazy which will of course be your fault and ultimately drive you crazy. Having a baby does not need to be social suicide though it’s an easy trap to fall into. Pressing on with your life is also a great beginning to having a social and outgoing baby.

One thing I am still getting use to this week is having my wife as a drinking partner again. At first it was odd to be at home enjoying an ale or three alone while cooking dinner (OK not really) but that soon passed. Now that my wife is going to the fridge and grabbing my beers, I was a little taken aback by this. It’s a social aspect within in my culture and for us that has been missing. “Whaaat! Breast feeding Moms can’t drink" you say, actually they can. It is equated to drinking and driving, if you can drink and still drive then you can breast feed. Any alcohol intake still has to be processed by the liver prior to entering the bloodstream and then the milk. 

Good news all round as you still have your driver!


Monday, December 31, 2012

Its a BOY! (Week 1)

WOW a boy! Being the youngest of 3 boys from the eldest of 6 boys, having a girl first really put the weight of an anvil right on my heart. What do I know about girls? Do I have to think before I speak now? Do I have to have a tea party? Though instantly realising I still have some time before I have to put the seat back down, these and many more questions came to mind but I would not change it for the world. Young girls are loving, caring, playful, gentle and will melt your heart at the blink of an eye.

For now, I have a son. The name lives on, oh the stories and beers we shall share. The anticipation was crippling. We did not know the sex of the baby and during the last ten months found this to be quite rare and a little ostracising. I received looks and comments from friends and strangers that made me feel inferior or small pox ridden, but just because you can does not necessarily mean you should. There are very few surprises left in this world of 24hr news and instant gratification but it was not an issue at all, until the last few weeks when all you want to do is meet the new member of your family. This feeling of anticipation is true regardless if you know the sex or not and is only heightened by not knowing. Another self discovered fact and a con for the "Knowing" argument, is the retail consumerism of a couple that know the sex compared to those that do not. Most expectant mothers simply can not walk past a cute pink or blue outfit that their new unborn baby "simply must have" in knowing the sex. If the mother-to-be loves to shop, ha, well then my friend, now she has someone else to shop for and another excuse.

People will stop you in the street, grab the mother-to-be by the hand and offer you an unsolicited diagnosis on the sex of your baby. Questions will be asked by your co-workers that have not even met your wife/partner and from your answer will also determine for you, the sex of your baby. There are old wives tales that will prognosticate and your opinion will be sought from friends as to what you think it is. Such incidents are flattering at first as its good to know that people do care for and of others, but by the end, it does wear pretty thin and verges on creepy. Regardless, I have found two things to be true in guessing what your next child will be:
  1. It does not matter what it is, you will love your child regardless of its sex.
  2. What ever you think it is, it will be the opposite.
Enjoy the unknown, you will have their whole life to enjoy their company and save yourself some money.

Family, friends and friends of friends and family will give you what ever baby clothes and toys they have that they want to get rid of. For your first, your wife/partner will have a baby shower and those that did not attend will give you a present anyway. You will receive so many presents and clothes that the need to shop before hand is very limited. There are essentials you need yes, but you don't need half the crap that is on offer. A bath tub, forget it, use the sink. Newborns don't bath that often and its a waste of space. We had one given to us for our first and we used it 3 times. It got moved form pillar to post and I forgot how many times I tripped over it.

Clothing Tip: Get/Ask for the onsies with zippers. The press stud buttons are a pain in the ass at 3am in the dark with little sleep. There is one zipper and and upwards of 8 press stud buttons.

For the the first week and the first three weeks for that matter, all they do is sleep, eat and shit. Enjoy it, it is actually a great transition to family life and between you and me your role is limited in comparison to that of the mother. You will be needed though to change and fetch diapers, grab her phone, knitting, laptop or drink when Mom is in a comfy spot feeding. Though with our second my role has turned into distracting and entertaining the older sibling so she does not grab and fling the shitty diaper at the dog.

Our kids are breastfeed, apart from giving nutrients and antibodies that are not 100% replicated by formula, it  is also a great boost to their immune system which right now is non existent. He says with a whisper "You did not hear it from me but breastfeeding is a great in aiding the Moms to shed those baby pounds (in addition to exercise of course)". If you are bottle feeding then you will be busier than a one armed traffic cop. Bottles need to be washed and sterilized, water boiled and cooled, powder added, bottle reheated and baby feed. In feeding every 2-3hrs there is a lot of this, a lot of prep work. Sterilizing the bottles is made easier with a contraption that looks like a giant Tupperware container, some water in the bottom, bottles in and about 6mins in the microwave and your job is done. If you are bottle feeding, this is a must.

Another concern that come flooding back to me this week is at this young age is, how fragile newborns can be. Obviously holding the head is paramount but it can get challenging changing a squirming baby while trying to force his arms and legs into a onesie. What you must remember is, the delivery. Think of what these little munchkins do to arrive into this world. If they can manipulate themselves to get through an opening like that then putting on some clothes will not be a problem. If you hear a crack followed by a cry, feel free to stop and seek medical advice.

People's Exhibit A: Bath in the sink..

Friday, December 28, 2012


As a new father for the second time now, we were the first of our group of friends to have a baby. Now with our second baby here, there is a gravitational pull for families to bond and new friendship emerge through child birth. I have been encouraged by some to put together my experiences, advice and tips for new and expectant fathers.

As the patriarch of the family and the 10 months preceding the birth, the fathers take a back seat to the child bearer and the unborn for obvious reasons. Little attention is paid to the father during this time or his thoughts, concerns and wants are address only before the family dog. Unfortunately this decline in the social/familia pecking order continues after the birth as the needs of others are met. A noble and chivalrous act that is paid back in full by a lovely pair of socks gifted on Fathers Day.

I guess I am your average Vancouverite. Mid 30s, mortgage, a wife, 2 kids (girl and boy), I have a great love of the outdoors snowboarding, hiking, camping, running, biking and of course I am born elsewhere.

The content of my blog is directed at 1st time/expecting fathers and the views and experiences are that of my own. I am not a medical professional though am married to one, I don't pretend to know everything about the birthing process, child rearing or parenting. What I write about are my experiences and what has worked for me. The choices you make will depend on options available to you, your circumstances, finances, practicality, but most of all what WILL work for you and your family.

I am sure you have had friends/family/co-workers that offer you unsolicited advice and that have told you exactly what you must do with your child as that's what they did. There is nothing worse! I hate these people. Everyones experiences WILL be different, pregnancies, deliveries, eating and sleeping patterns and etc, will all differ to others and even between your kids.

I intend to give weekly updates of the growth and development of my new baby boy as well as touch on some topics so hopefully I can give you some insight, tips and ideas as to what you can do or expect when rearing you child, with a little humor.