Monthly Archives: July 2012

by in / Daddy Stuff
Playground Interventions: When a Grown-Up is Mean

Playground Interventions: When a Grown-Up is Mean

The other day I took my boys to a local park they really enjoy, and had an incident that was very new to me. It has me wondering about what I should have done differently, if anything, and what the etiquette is in such a situation.

Questions on playground etiquette usually have to do with intervening to correct someone else’s child.

But when do you intervene when the problem is another adult?

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by in / Daddy Stuff
The Makings of a Star Wars Kid

The Makings of a Star Wars Kid

After a couple of recent exposures to the concept, today my son Tucker has been asking a lot if we can watch a show or movie “with lightsabers.”

(Well, “lie-sah-bows” or “lay-see-bees” or “lah-say-bays,” etc.)

Awesome, right?

I mean, it’s like every geek parent’s dream to have their child, of their own accord, take an interest in Star Wars! I don’t want to be That Geek, who forces stuff on his kids. I try my best to go with what he takes an interest in. So the fact that he is asking is big for me.

But . . . wow . . . my little Padawan is only THREE, guys.

I honestly don’t think he’s ready for the movies. Or even the Clone Wars animated series, to be honest. And he probably won’t be for a while, in the sense that he will actually enjoy the movies, never mind understand them or just not be scared by them.

Most of what I read suggests that age 6 to 10 is the best age, although I’m sure opinions differ. And all of this is completely secondary to the very important discussion of in what order to show him the movies, when the time comes (I happen to think there is a lot of merit in the Machete Order).

In the meantime, I’m thinking maybe my best move is to avoid Star Wars tv and movies altogether for now, and start with some books.

Any recommendations on good Star Wars stuff that is toddler-appropriate without being awful?

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If a Dad Can…

If a Dad Can…

What other sorts of parenting responsibilities do you find that dads are ridiculously not expected to be able to handle?

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by in / Daddy Stuff
A Day In The Life of This At-Home Dad

A Day In The Life of This At-Home Dad

One of the questions I have been asked more than any other by various media-types during my brief stint as a minor celebrity has been “So what are your days like? Can you walk me through a typical day?”

I always have a hard time answering that, for a couple of reasons. One, they don’t have time to actually hear the answer. And two, while routine is wonderful and there are some days that feel like one big episode of deja vu all over again, we actually try to mix things up a lot. Some days we are out most of the day doing activities. Others we have lots of errands that need to get done. Sometimes we never leave the house.

But in an effort to get a good answer in writing, I decided to track a day, which in this case was a Thursday a couple of weeks ago, to give a sense of what a “typical day” is like.


6:30 AM – Tucker (age 3) wakes up. My wife, Anna, is in the shower, and instructs him that to go lay on the couch until she is done. I wake up enough to hear their conversation, but don’t let it show.

7:19 AM – Anna comes and kisses me goodbye, and tells me Tucker is sitting quietly in the living room watching Yo Gabba Gabba!, and Coltrane (age 1) is still sleeping.

7:20 AM – Anna leaves for work, telling Tucker to let me sleep a little bit longer.

7:20:01 AM – Tucker comes and wakes me up.

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Garden Friends GIVEAWAY Winners!

Garden Friends GIVEAWAY Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered our Garden Friends Giveaway!


Congratulations to these lucky winners!


Winners of the Garden Friends: Fruit, Vegetable & Herb Garden Stakes printable PDF are:

Deana C.

Diane B.

Erin C.

Erma H.


The Grand Prize Winner, who, in addition to the above PDF also wins a copy of Now I Eat My ABCs is:

Now I Eat My ABCsTB!


Winners have been notified via email. If you are one of the winners and have not received an email detailing how to get your prize, please contact me!

If you were not a winner this time, I hope you’ll consider buying a book instead! They are only $4.99 and have a ton of uses, beyond garden stakes and into iron-on t-shirt designs, scrapbooking, and much more! Thanks!

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by in / Daddy Stuff
Finding the Need: From Time-Out as punishment, to preemptive Special Quiet Time

Finding the Need: From Time-Out as punishment, to preemptive Special Quiet Time

I’ve been lucky to find a great community of local mommy and daddy friends in the last couple of months, and I’ve been learning a lot from them.

Recently one of the moms asked for some recommendations for books that might help her face the power-struggles so common between parent and 3-year-old (the “thorny threes” are totally the new “terrible twos”).

Having a willful 3-year-old of my own, I was very interested in the discussion that followed, with people sharing recommendations not just of books they liked but philosophies and strategies for parenting young kids in a thoughtful way.

One of the things that stuck out to me was this bit from one of my lovely new friends:

“Every behavior has a need associated with it. Find the need and the behavior may just disappear.”

I spent a lot of time thinking about that.

One of my biggest headaches recently in the parenting department is the seemingly inexplicable behavioral changes that can happen. I don’t mean temper tantrums–although those suck–but rather how my otherwise genial child can go from being praised one minute for doing something great, to stubbornly doing (or continuing to do) something he should not, even as I stand there telling him to stop. It’s often like he decides then and there “This will totally be worth the punishment!” and goes ahead with the bad behavior anyway. He can literally go from receiving a special thank-you for good behavior to being in Time-Out within two minutes.

I often ask him why he does that, but of course he has no good answer. He’s three years old! So instead I just started observing and looking for the “need” he may be seeking to fill, without really knowing it.

As I sat with him the other day, discussing why he was now in Time-Out (“what he did”) I decided to try re-framing the discussion to try to find with what “need” this behavior was associated. We’d talked about the idea of “consequences,” both the good and bad variety, and that Time-Out and not getting to do certain fun things are often consequences of making poor choices or doing hurtful things.

I asked him if sometimes even though Time-Out is a “bad consequence” he still sometimes does things he knows he shouldn’t because he sort of likes being in Time-Out — if he actually wants to get in trouble so he will be put in Time-Out.

He said “Yes, sometimes.”

“Why?” I asked.

He wasn’t sure, but with some prodding he said that when he has Time-Out he likes the quiet time to himself.

“Tucker, I have an idea. Do you think you can help me with something?”

“Yes, sure!”

“Okay. My idea is this: What if, when you feel like you want to do something that you know will lead to Time-Out, you have that time by yourself before you do something and get into trouble? That way instead of Time-Out being a punishment, it can be a good thing. It can be your own special quiet time. What do you think?”

“I think that’s a great idea, Dada! Can I have it in my room on my bed?”

“That sounds like a perfect place. So here’s what we’ll do. We’re going to go back into the living room and play with Cole. When you feel like you need some time by yourself, you just tell me you need Special Quiet Time. Then you can come sit or lay on your bed until you feel like you are done. Good plan?”

“It’s a really good plan, okay!”

Long story short?

Water. Shed. Moment.

I’m not going to lie and say he’s suddenly a 100% Angel Child. We have our moments. We probably always will. But when I’ve sensed that he is starting to make some poor choices, if I say “Tucker, I think you might be starting to make poor choices. Do you think maybe you need some Special Quiet Time to help?” he will very often agree, go take the time he needs, and his behavior will improve. Already he is starting to self-regulate his own feelings and behaviors.

Well, he’s trying. He’s still only three!

You can imagine how preferable this sort of thing is over a battle of wills, yelling, and doling out punishments.

I think the moment that really hit home for me how effective this has been already though was this afternoon. We were eating lunch when Tucker asked if he could go to his room. He hadn’t done anything wrong just then, but (he explained to me) he felt like he’d “made a bad choice when I opened the baby gate and let Cole out before and I want to go be in Special Quiet Time to think about how I can make good choices.”

Is he just putting me on? I really don’t know. Maybe. Will it last? I don’t know that either.

But for the moment? I’ll take it.

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by in / Giveaway
GIVEAWAY! Garden Friends Fruit, Vegetable & Herbs Printables!

GIVEAWAY! Garden Friends Fruit, Vegetable & Herbs Printables!


In the summer of 2012, my family got our first plot at a local community garden, and we’ve been having a blast growing all sorts of delicious fruits and vegetables and herbs.

As a part of making our little area of the garden our own, I made some custom garden stakes from my own illustrations. Due to popular demand, I’m now offering these illustrations in a downloadable, printable PDF document for just $4.99.

The document includes every item I have created, in three sizes — 3.75″, 3″, and 2″ squares, all in full color and high resolution. Just print and cut the ones you want to use, however you’d like to use them.

Items included in this set are based on our own family garden, which are as follows: Basil, Beans, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Corn, Cucumbers, Kale (Red Russian), Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes (Yukon Gold), Pumpkin, Rosemary, Spaghetti Squash, Spinach, Strawberries, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, and Zucchini.

In addition I have included things we didn’t grow this year but you might want: Cabbage, Cauliflower, Eggplant, Garlic, Jalapeño, Melon, Mushrooms, Radish, Red Cabbage, and Watermelon.

To celebrate the release of this download, I’d like to give some away for FREE!

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Foodie Friday: Rick Bayless’ Mojo de Ajo (Garlic Oil)

Foodie Friday: Rick Bayless’ Mojo de Ajo (Garlic Oil)

I’ve mentioned before that my family this year has a plot in a local community garden.

We’ve been absolutely loving it, both as a fun activity to do as a family and because it has been amazingly productive in getting some great, fresh produce into our hands and bellies. Most, we have grown ourselves, but our garden is also home to a wonderful test garden, where some incredible varieties of heritage crops are grown.

This week we happened to make our weekly family trip to the garden on the same day when the test garden crew were harvesting literal carloads of the most beautiful garlic you’ve ever seen. The aroma was incredible. We were offered a few heads… then a few more… and then some more… and by the time we left we had a mountainous treasure I couldn’t wait to get home and start using.

My first thought: I am making a huge batch of Mojo de Ajo!

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Five Things Restaurants Could Do To Be More Family Friendly

Five Things Restaurants Could Do To Be More Family Friendly

As young kids go, I think my wife and I would both admit that we’ve gotten off fairly easy in the “eating” department with both of our young boys.

That doesn’t mean they eat anything and everything we ask. It doesn’t mean there aren’t massive and unexplainable changes in likes and dislikes that happen on a whim. It doesn’t mean our dining room floor doesn’t constantly look like I’m trying to make compost under the table.

What it means is simply that we’ve been very lucky to have boys who are generally good at trying new things, don’t give us too much trouble at mealtime, and make eating out at a restaurant something we don’t fear.

That said, we’ve quickly started to learn which restaurants have put some serious thought into how to be “family friendly.”

And I don’t mean “family friendly” in that they have a cartoon mascot wandering the seating area, a garish color-scheme, or free ice cream. Nor do I mean the basics that would make any restaurant appealing (delicious food, cleanliness, good service, etc.). I mean the things that actually make eating out an easier experience for parents.

Here are some little ways that I think restaurants can do business, and vastly increase the chances that they’ll get our business again and again:

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“Don’t Call me Mrs. Dad!” say Working Moms

“Don’t Call me Mrs. Dad!” say Working Moms

(DDN) — According recent U.S. Census Bureau information, the number of working moms has increased yet again. Mothers are working outside of the home in a staggering 70% of households with children under the age of 18 and are increasingly the primary breadwinner for the family.

The stereotype of the hapless, helpless woman — and the idea that women have no place or anything to contribute to the work force — is holding little water with real families.

But old stereotypes die hard, and many of these moms feel like society still has a hard time accepting them.

For most, this lack of acceptance can be best summed up in two words: Mrs. Dad.

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