Day 77: Bizarre Behavior

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“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.”
― Bill Cosby

There’s absolutely no way to predict what you’ll do to keep your kids happy. I’ve turned into a dragon, a monster, a clown, an acrobat, a chef, a movie critic, a chauffeur, a professor, an artist, a computer technician, a auto mechanic, and so many more just to keep my kids happy.

The only way to do that  is to let go of feeling self conscious. The great thing about kids, is that they don’t make fun of you, no matter how goofy you are, at least while they are little.

Day 76: A Few of My Favorite Things

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One thing that my wife and I like to do is take road trips. Fortunately, her family only lives a few hours away, which makes it reasonable to go see them more often. My family, however, is an over 20-hour trip by car, which makes this a trip we take only seldomly.

Over the long hours, we often decide to do things that will spark interesting conversations. One thing we do is “my favorite things”. In this case, it has little to do with the Sound of Music, though schnitzel with noodles actually does appear high on my list favorite things. Throw in crisp apple strudel too.

We each take a turn listing a category such as “my favorite restaurant to get a hamburger it”. We then have to guess what the other person will say. The person then reveals his or her answer and takes a minute to talk about why and what comes in second place.

We try to think of interesting things that do more than scratch the surface. We learned long ago what our favorite movies are, our favorite books, our favorite TV show. Be a little more specific so that it takes more thought. What was your favorite song when you were in high school? What’s the best present that I’ve ever given you for Christmas?

Using these times when you have hours together on the road
is an idea that should be used to it’s fullest. You never know what you might learn about the person you see almost every day.

Day 75: Dr. Benjamin Spock (Not a Vulcan) “Father of Parenting”

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Photo by: MDCarchives

When and where did they live?  Born on May 2, 1903 in New Haven Connecticut and died on March 15th, 1998 in La Jolla, California.

What are they the father of? Why is he famous?

When Dr. Benjamin Spock (not a Vulcan) died in 1998, TIME magazine said that he “singlehandedly changed the way parents raise their children.” (http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/14/65-years-since-spock-five-ideas-that-changed-american-parenting/) He wrote the very popular “Baby and Child Care” in 1946 and many other popular books.

How many children did they have?  Did they follow in their father’s footsteps? Spock had two sons, Michael and John. He later expressed regret that he spent little time with them when they were young because he was so busy. Michael became a director of a children’s museum, and John became the owner of a construction firm.

What can we learn from them?

It is good to give advice, but it is better to heed your own advice. Dr. Spock said that he regretted talking so much about other people’s children that he didn’t spent as much time with his own children.

Day 74: Easy to Be King

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“It is very easy to be a military strategist, a mercenary, or a king, but much harder to be a father.”
― Nadia ScrievaTides of Tranquility

I have done things in my life for which I had received welcome attention. I’ve been on stage for thousands of people at a time, and had people come ask me to autograph my books. Getting to this point took a lot of work, but they pale in comparison to my ongoing efforts at become a better father.

While both my writing and singing have brought me great satisfaction, it is nothing like the satisfaction I feel seeing my children grow and progress and feeling the genuine love they return to me every day.

Being a good day takes a lot of work, over a long period of time. People might like a book I’ve written and stay with it for a while, or clap and cheer at the end of a concert, but my work as a father will shape the lives of my children for the rest of their lives for good or ill, and then shape what kind of parents they will be.

Question:  Does being a father bring you satisfaction? Why or why not? What can you do to increase your satisfaction with fatherhood?

Day 73: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

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I remember the first time I held my first son in my arms. It is sort of surreal experience to look down and see your own facial features reflected on another human being. In some respects, I kind of felt sorry for the little guy. I remember thinking once in those early days "Oh boy, you got my huge noggin." When I was growing up, my friends used to call me “melon head” as I put prize-winning melons watermelons to shame.

At first, it might be a little nerve-racking to hold the little guy or gal because they seem so fragile. There are a few things to remember holding a newborn baby. First, is that babies are much more flexible than even young children. Many of their bones and joints are simply not as developed yet and so they might bend and stretch in ways that you would not expect. This helps the baby for the birthing process.
Secondly, if you feel of depression in the top of your baby's head, don't panic. Someone didn't drop them and they don't have a malformed skull. This is what is known as the "soft spot". Before birth the bones of a baby’s skull do not fuse together, which helps them be able to be born through a very small space without damaging their head. After birth, the bones start to fuse together and the soft spot should shrink in the coming months.
Third, is that infant need extra support to their head and neck. Infants might be happiest in several different positions but whatever you do support the neck. If you don't, their heads can easily flop around which can cause damage.

Fourth, make sure you are holding an infant with clean hands. Babies are exceptionally susceptible to pathogens. Their immune system’s are not fully developed and so must be extra cautious. As a rule, make sure to wash your hands frequently around your infants and specifically before you hold or feed him or her. Avoid touching their mouth, eyes, nose, and ears, as these are common places where germs can enter. For the few first few months at least, it is wise to limit the number of people that you allow to hold the baby, as each new person has potential to introduce different kinds of germs.

Finally, just enjoy the experience. They really do grow very quickly and soon holding your baby will be less like holding the weight of a plastic doll and more like holding the weight of a sack of potatoes. Eventually, it will be like holding something you can’t pick up at all.

Day 72: Making Flubber

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Now some of us they remember one of the movies made about a wonderful substance known as Flubber. It bounced all around and generally caused havoc. Growing up, we used to make a version of Flubber, which was plenty bouncy and squishy, but did not cause all that much trouble. Is a big hit with all of us kids and really fun just to sink your fingers into.

It is easy to make and can be done with the children. It’s also not that expensive as the main ingredients are regular school glue and borax soap. When you make it, it is not sticky and doesn’t leave a mess everywhere.

Here is the recipe for making Flubber guaranteed to put your on your kid’s “World’s Best Dad” list.

http://crafts.creativebug.com/make-flubber-1998.html

Question: Would this be an activity my kids would enjoy?

Day 71: A Fatherly Lesson in Forgiveness

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If you’re human, then the following lesson probably applies to you. I know that does to me. We all do things that we regret. We all face moments when we must ask forgiveness of others. Chances are, you’re like the rest of us and are not yet a perfect father. There will be many times we need to ask forgiveness of your children for your shortcomings, and likely there will be many times when your children should apologize to you.

I was fortunate to have a forgiving father who taught me the value of forgiving even when you don’t feel like it. The person asking forgiveness doesn’t always necessarily deserve it, but you always deserve the peace that comes from granting another person forgiveness who has wronged you.

My dad introduced a powerful lesson about forgiveness on the family night we had long ago. He filled a clear measuring cup that held about 2 cups of water to the brim. He then applied several drops of dark red food coloring. We watched in fascination as tendrils of colors snaked through the water, eventually turning the entire contents red. “This is what happens when you do something wrong. It may seem like this water that is never going to be all right again. Do you think that there is any way that we could turn this water clear again?”

We all shook our heads. Obviously, the food coloring had spread throughout the whole glass of water and this was something that couldn’t be undone.

My father then took a small glass which contained bleach. He poured it little by little into the red stained water. Slowly, the color in the water lightened and then, to our astonishment, disappeared altogether.

The water returned to its clear state with no indication of the deep red dye that had permeated it. “This is the power of repentance and forgiveness,” he said. He likened it to a scripture from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. “Through your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18, King James Version). This seems an appropriate passage for what we had just witnessed.

Red, crimson, scarlet. These are no easy things to make go away. Anyone who’s ever gotten a drop of blood on his clothing knows what that’s like. Ultimately, what my father taught me was that it was our duty to forgive others so that we might be forgiven by each other and by our Heavenly Father. That is a lesson I hope to instill as powerfully in my own children.

Day 70: Justice VS. Peace and Quiet

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“Parents are not interested in justice, they’re interested in peace and quiet.”
― Bill Cosby

It’s funny, but it can also be a trap that we fall into. Sometimes it easier to do things for peace and quiet rather than taking the time to do what is best for our kids. It is easy to turn on the TV, and harder to figure out your kids’ needs and to spend time with them.

Maybe you could watch reruns of the Cosby Show together. Bill would approve

Day 69: Room Service at Home

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One of the things that I grew up seeing my father do was surprising my mother periodically with breakfast in bed. Admittedly, most of these fell on days that she was being recognized, such as Mother’s Day, their anniversary, or her birthday. But sometimes he did it just because.

I was raised in a family of eight children and though we weren’t exactly poor, there wasn’t all that much money to spare on lavish things. Getting breakfast in bed just made you feel like you were doing something out of the ordinary, a little fancier like getting room service delivered at a hotel. It shows planning and forethought, and usually entails sacrificing a little bit of sleep so that you can get up early enough to prepare the meal.

When my dad did breakfast, it wasn’t just plain toast and a bowl of cereal either. He’d make his famous sourdough pancakes with buttermilk syrup and serve them with scrambled eggs and bacon, and some kind of juice. Other times he would bring donuts and milk, anything that my mother enjoyed.

As we got older, he invited us to help him prepare the meal for mother. We’d get up early and sneak around softly so that she wouldn’t wake up. He would let each of us put a different elements of the meal on the tray and another one of us would carry the tray to her room. If it was her birthday, we would come into the room together and sing her Happy Birthday while we handed her the tray with the food.

These were wonderful memories and breakfast in bed is an excellent way that you can help your kids recognize their mother’s special days. And maybe once in a while just because.

Day 68: Johann Sebastian Bach, Father of the Fugue

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When and where did they live?  Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany in 1685 and lived in Germany all his life.

What are they the father of? Why is he famous?   He is “Father of the Fugue”, which is a Baroque musical form. He was an accomplish musician, especially with the organ and left many works that are still performed today such as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Tocatta and Fugue in G Minor”. He influenced many of the great composers to follow him such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

How many children did they have? Did they follow in their father’s footsteps? Bach was many times a father. He was married twice and had seven children with his first wife and 13 with his second.

Many of his children had notable musical careers of their own such as:

Wilhelm Friedemann

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

Gottfried Heinrich Bach,

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach

Johann Christian Bach

What can we learn from them?  If you work hard, you can leave a legacy for you family to follow for generations.

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bach_family

http://www.jsbach.org/

http://www.baroquemusic.org/bqxjsbach.html

“The Best of Bach” Video: http://youtu.be/6JQm5aSjX6g