March 30, 2012

Ramblings of an Aging Dad

My little Carter just turned five.

And so we start another year that will certainly go faster than the last.  It really is something that sucks about being a parent, life really moves too quickly to take it all in. How often have you heard someone say before you know it the kids will be off at college.  It's so true.  

I am enjoying every minute of it, but those minutes are flying by, way too fast.  The kids are getting so big and learning new and amazing things every single day.  You want to take mental notes about it all but there is only so much that your brain can store.  I have about 25,000 pictures that I have taken over the years with the kids in them, but who has time to look at them all?  Every now and then I will go and start to delete some pictures that seem redundant, but I find that I have a hard time doing that even with ones that are completely out of focus.  It's almost as if deleting the photo would delete a memory altogether.

It's really hard sometimes seeing them get so big.  You almost want to stunt their growth and keep them the way that they are.  Why does everything have to get old? It really sucks.

I look at my niece, she just turned 16 years old and she is already starting to prepare for life after her parents house.  She is really in the midst of thinking about college and already knows what she wants to be when she gets older, a doctor of all things.  I don't know what my kids want to be yet, but soon they are going to have to start thinking about that.  They will have to start thinking about what life will hold when they no longer live under my roof.  Their own house?  That's just crazy to even think about.

I honestly don't know how my parents handled it because it's something that I struggle with everyday.  How could they have a 38 year old son?  Where did that time go? Wasn't I just that five year old kid celebrating his birthday?   

I know if I continue to dwell on the future I am going to miss everything in the here and now, but it really is hard to not think about it.  It does go fast, too fast. 

My little guy is five? How? I have no answers. 

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 28, 2012

Wednesday's Window... Carter's Birthday

I really can't believe it, my little guy is turning five.  It seems like my oldest Tyler should be older than he is.  In many ways it seems like he has been around forever, but Carter?  I have no idea how he could already be five years old.  He has always been the cutest little kid and seems to be the same size he was when we brought him home from the hospital.  I guess it must be something with being the second child.  It seems like yesterday the little guy came into this world, and now five years later to see what he has become is just amazing.  I couldn't be more proud of him as he is just starting to learn how to read and write; and seeing him counting on his little fingers when he trying to figure out simple math problems, is one of the cutest things that I have seen.  He has been difficult to deal with at times, but when he is at his cutest, he is the cutest kid around (don't tell Tyler.)  Happy Birthday Little guy! I hope you enjoy a very special Wednesday's Window.

Carter shares a birthday with his older cousin Brian
At his Second birthday hanging out with Darth Vader
On his third birthday he fell asleep at his party
He's got a devilish little grin that is irresistible 
Him and his brother are both getting SO big

I can't believe how fast life is going by.  Five years.  Crazy.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 27, 2012

Bowling for Dollars

I always like to compare the abilities of my kids.  If you recall in the past I have tackled little things like crossing their eyes and wiggling their nose.  Carter has shown impressive abilities, while Tyelr has shown he needs a little more practice. Today I am taking on the issue of bowling.  In my family bowling is a big deal.  When I was a kid, I was in a league every Saturday morning and I loved it.  Both of my parents bowl and have been know to travel around the country to various National Bowling Tournaments. Before you get the idea that they are professional bowlers, you have to take into account that these events are held in places like Reno and Vegas.  I think they have other ideas in mind when they travel to these tournaments.

When I was a kid I don't remember having bumpers to use, so I can only assume that there were a lot of games where my ball was consistently in the gutter.  Kids nowadays have it easy, just throw it down the lane and let the bumpers guide it in.  Now that Tyler is getting older I am starting to work on his technique.  I am trying to get him to slow down and actually roll the ball, instead of just throwing it down the lane.

As you can see we are getting there.  It's going to take time to get the form down, and working on converting those spares is something that is going to take a lot of practice.

As for Carter, he is a little younger so i am not so much concerned about his technique. The fact that the ball is going in the right lane and does not get stuck somewhere in the middle is good enough at this point.  He does seem to understand the importance of converting his spares though.

Final score: Carter 10; Tyler 8.  Needless to say the results did not make Tyler happy at all.  Yet again Carter shows that he is picking up things faster than his older brother.  If Tyler wants to be anything like Grandma and Grandpa we are certainly going to have to work on his game.  One of these days we will find some ability that Tyler can master that his brother can't.  But so far it seems with Carter, we have created a superhuman child.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 22, 2012

Allergy Season... Starring Legos

It seems at though winter is over in our part of the country.  I have to say it really wasn't that bad.  We had a snowfall before Halloween this year, but other than one other snowfall, that was it.  It made my wife happy, but I have to say it was kind of disappointing not being able to go sledding that much with the kids. Now spring is here and it's great that the weather is getting warmer, but that also means Allergies are kicking in.  I never had them as a kid, but my son Tyler does.  And he gets them real bad.

I hope we get him on the right medication.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 20, 2012

How to Grow Your Blog by Eight Billion Percent

I don't normally write "How To" pieces but now that I have been blogging for over a year I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert in the field.  Sure there are others that have been at it longer and others that have a bigger following, but once you hit that year mark you know that you have made it.  Being a blogger past your one year "Blogoversary" (nonsense word) really does give you street cred in this medium.

I have a pretty decent following on Twitter and Facebook, but I can't be certain that at least three quarters of my followers aren't just spammers and marketers.  I will just go with the idea that there are at least a few people that are following me because they actually like to read my blog.

This not my picture
When you are an up and coming blogger you go anywhere to get information on how to grow your blog and gain more readers.  More readers meant certain wealth, and more wealth meant instant fame.  I know that I did, and really didn't find that much useful information.  I must have visited hundreds of sites trying to find the most foolproof methods to gain more readership.  All of them had the same nonsense about being yourself, finding your voice, creating a niche and the list goes on.

I am here to tell you the one secret that every blogger needs to know in order to get viewers.

Write a post on how to grow your blog!

I can't tell you how many times I would see a "How to" post on my Twitter stream and be compelled to read it only to find that same stuff about using Twitter and Facebook and all the great social mediums.  EVERYONE WAS AN EXPERT when it came to growing their blog, I know because I read them all.

Then it hit me, I had never heard of half of these blogs and most hadn't been around the requisite one year so they could not be considered an expert in the blogging world.  The only way that ANYONE visited these blogs was because they wrote a post about growing your blog.

It's genius right?

They probably didn't even know how smart they were when they were writing it.  I can almost guarantee that that post was their most read post of all time.  Whether or not people showed up for their next entry is besides the point, they had the hook.  They suckered me in and I am sure that I wasn't alone.

The truth is, there is no right way or wrong way to grow your blog.  There are no answers, I've looked. 

Trust me.  I'm an expert.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 16, 2012

Going Bald?... Starring Legos

I think every man has a strong attachment to his hair. Obviously as you get older your kids cause you to prematurely gray.  So what do you do, you start to color it.  Only sometimes by doing that you end up looking ridiculous.  It always amazes me how some people cover up the fact that they are getting older. Now I am only 38 and really don't have that many gray hairs yet so I haven't had to worry about dying it. But I will tell that sometimes when you have kids, they can make you lose your hair altogether.

I really hope he gives it back to me.  I'm too young to be bald.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 13, 2012

The Important Lessons

I might be one of the only people in the world that actually enjoys bringing their kids to the grocery store.  It's not the easiest place to corral them but it is a great place to teach them a few life lessons.  They do learn a lot in school, which is great, but there is only so much that you can learn from behind the desk and I feel some of the best lessons can be learned while shopping for life's essentials.

The first thing that you learn is that life can be really confusing.  There are a lot of choices to make and choosing the right one is key.  Take toilet paper for example; it's not all about the simple math that you might learn in school, there are some pretty complex equations that you are going to come across.  Do you go with 24 double rolls or 12 mega rolls?  Either way it adds up to 48 regular rolls, which I have NEVER seen in my life so I can't really compare it to that.  When both cost the same, how do you know that you are choosing the right one?  One is ultra strong and the other is ultra soft so that is no help.  I spend about 10 minutes every time I go to the store going back and forth between the two before I ultimately choose the 24 pack.  

The next thing that you learn is that life just doesn't make sense sometimes.  Look at how celery is packaged; are we ever going to use THAT much celery?  I have never needed more than one or two stalks yet for some reason celery packagers continue to put entire celery plants inside of a plastic bag.  Every other vegetable you can buy by the pound or individually, but for some reason celery, a vegetable that NEVER gets used, you are forced to buy a dozen or more of.  It has to be some sort of conspiracy by farmers forcing celery on us.  I really have no explanation as to why this is the case, it will just go on to be one of life's biggest mysteries.

The third lesson that you learn is that most of the time when you are in a rush, you will end up waiting. It never ceases to amaze me that the slowest checkout people work in the express lane.  I don't know if they put people in that lane that can only count to seven, twelve, or fifteen, but every time I use the express lane it seems that I stand watching all of the other lanes zip through while I am stuck with the cashier that doesn't know the UPC Code for broccoli.  You want to get out of a store quickly? Always find the longest line because that line will have the store manager step in and they know every code like they know their own phone number.  So while Greta in the express lane is putting her glasses on to read the code for the grapes that you bought, your lanes scanner is beeping like a heart monitor.

The last lesson is that you will notice that there are some very lazy people in this world. They are the ones that constantly fail to put their carts away and leave them scattered all over the parking lot.  Why is this such an issue?  Every dent that you have on your car is because some lazy person at the grocery store did not put their cart in the little cart corral.  These carts have wheels and when they are not attended to they have a tendency to roll right into the door panel of your vehicle.  Why people cannot walk their carts 15 feet and put them away is something I will never understand. Society has become very lazy and I will not let my kids continue this trend.  The following Public Service Announcement is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING my kids can learn at the grocery store:

Please, I beg all parents to teach their kids this very important message.  Who knows, one day our world might be a dent free place for all of us to enjoy.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 9, 2012

Birthday Shopping... Starring Legos

My little guy Carter is turning five in a couple of weeks.  My oldest son does seem like he is seven and a half, in fact he seems like he has been alive longer than that.  But the thought of Carter turning five is just mind boggling.  Like any five year old he has a birthday list that is a mile long.  Some of the stuff he has on there HE ALREADY OWNS.  But don't tell him that, he just wants a lot of stuff.  Who can blame him, he's turning five.  At the top of his list is, you guessed it, Legos.  I don't know how there are Legos that we don't have, but somehow he seems to find them.  Most of the stuff he wants I am fine with, but there are some things I just can't let him have.

Maybe it's time to go back to the Duplo sized blocks?!

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 7, 2012

21st Century Dad

I have "met" a lot of awesome people in the past year over the internet.  Moms, dads, grandparents; sometimes I am amazed at just how many cool people live in this world. Some are awesome writers, others amazing photographers and then there is this guy, who just so happens to be one of the most talented people that I have come across online.  James is a school teacher who lives somewhere in the remote wilderness of Canada, isn't Canada all a remote wilderness?  Not only is he a fabulous writer and a great dad, but then he goes and does something like this:

I am going to use this as my anthem from now on, don't we all have an anthem?  I think this song epitomizes a lot of us nowadays, slowly we are losing our stereotypes as the bumbling fool when it comes to parenting.  Songs like this and more importantly dads like James are helping people realize that dads are parents too. No longer are we sitting idle and letting mom do all the work, we are making parenting a shared job.  

For more from James you should check out his blog Edudad where he discusses everything from parenting to teaching and throws in a lot of humorous stories from his kids.  He is THE 21st Century Dad.

You can also follow James on Twitter @saskadad

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 6, 2012

It's What's for Breakfast

I by no means am a gourmet chef.  I find cooking for kids to be one of the worst things about parenting.  You want to make sure that they are eating a healthy well cooked meal, but half the time the food that you spend thirty minutes slaving over a hot stove with, goes uneaten.  I can see why kids only eat things like chicken nuggets and fish sticks.  Who wants to put effort into a meal the kids could care less about.

Breakfast is one meal that I have mastered.  There is no prep time or massive cleanup and the boys usually eat what's in front of them.  If only they could eat cereal, eggs, and bagels for every meal, our cook (me) would be much happier.

Here is one meal that I have come to love over the years, it's quick, simple, and easy to do.  That is of course if you have the right tools.  Without them you should probably just stick to cereal, I mean everyone has a bowl right?

Toasted Waffles

The trick is to find a waffle that your kids will eat.  Through trial and error, I have found that my kids will eat pretty much any waffle put in front of them, so that makes shopping a little easier, you can just buy what's on sale.  For todays purpose we will use the Nutri-Grain Eggo waffle. They really enjoy the blueberry variety and we all know that blueberries are full of antioxidants, so that's a bonus.

Place your frozen waffle in the toaster.  My wife insists on microwaving them.  Why she would go through all that effort is beyond me.

We have a fancy toaster that takes a lot of the guess work out of toasting the waffle. See the two buttons pushed; FROZEN and WAFFLE.  Pretty simple stuff.

The next step is the most important; you need to push down the lever or the waffle will remain frozen.  Studies have found that the waffle tastes better when it is cooked.  Crazy I know.

When the waffle is done, this is where I go against the grain.  I use a pizza cutter to cut through the waffle, but feel free to use any sharp object that you may have on hand.  You could of course just feed them the waffle whole, but our kids are not animals and should not be treated as such.

Now that the breakfast is served, you might want to try pairing it with a cup of low fat milk and sit back and be amazed that your kids actually do know how to eat.  After breakfast you just might want to consider having waffles for every meal.  Why on earth would I make something extravagant again?  That's what we go to restaurants for.

Happy eating.

For more awesome culinary delights check out Solitary Mama and link up your favorite.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 2, 2012

New Friends... Starring Legos

It always seems that whenever we go on vacation we come home with more Legos.  We even bought some in France of all places.  Well our latest trip was to San Diego where my wife's company is located, and as you know Legoland is just up the highway in Carlsbad.  You would think at this point in our lives we've had our fill of Lego, but that is most certainly not the case.  Whenever my kids get the chance to bring new playmates home they do, sometimes much to my chagrin.

I really have to stop feeding this beast, or at least go on vacation where I know that NO Legos will be found.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?