Jason

The Greatest Job in the World!

Well it’s official, I turned in my resignation today. I will be leaving the hotel and customer service industries to start a new and exciting profession. I start my new job on May 7th 2011. I’ll be working for four of the greatest bosses in the world, my family.

Kirsten and I have been trying to create the opportunity for me to become a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) for awhile now. If you read “In Defense of Dads” you’ll know that for a time I was a Work From Home Dad and we both saw the positive effects it had on our boys both in their education and overall attitude. I grew up with a stay at home mom and a father who ran his own company which made both of my parents very accessible to me. I credit this as one of the biggest influences on my life and want to give my children the same.

For me being a stay at home dad is not a 5 year plan until Keria attends Kindergarten but rather a career choice. This is what I want to do. I want to explore the world with my children. I want to be the chaperon on the field trips. I want them to always have someone to come to with questions and concerns. I want to see the smile on Kirsten’s face when she comes home to dinner on the table, a clean house and can she can relax.

This is a new job for me and I will need some adjustment time, but I’m excited and can’t seem to stop smiling every time I think about it.

In Defense of Dads

On a busy day home with the kids, I saw a tweet float past my twitter feeds: “Dad-Mom Role Reversal- What happens when Dad stays home?” I thought it sounded good for Jason, who stays at home with the kids more often than I do, and forwarded it along to him without reading it. What I found out was that this article had deeply upset him. Instead of being a supportive article for working mothers about having dads stay home with the kids, it was a list of ways that dads don’t measure up to moms. Following this article, I ran across a slew of other articles that were different subjects but all had same same context: Dads just can’t cut it.

The problem with these articles is that they measure dads against moms as if dads are just a substitute for when mom isn’t around. This hardly seems fair. We wouldn’t look down on a dad for not breastfeeding his child or a mom for not properly teaching her son to fish. So why would we look down on a dad for not being a mom?? Dads do not cease to be a man just because they’re home with the kids. And why treat men as though their value is diminished when they’re home supporting and nurturing the most important people in our lives: our children.

Years ago, Jason worked from home part time while the kids were in school. When the kids were off of school, he was there with them. Was the house absolutely spotless? Well, no. Did the boys always leave the house matching? Ha. Uh, no. (Seems my boys lack the “matching” gene.)

But the kitchen was always picked up and dinner was always made. The kids made it to soccer and baseball practice on time. Jason was involved with their sports and coached them on how to do better. Homework was always complete and the boys felt confident in their schooling. Their grades soared, they had less problems at school, and in the evenings, since a lot of this work was done ahead of time, I had time to sit and teach them German words and phrases.

Life was good. There was a sense of relaxation knowing that while not everything was done up to my Type A Mom standards, the big stuff, the stuff that mattered most to our family, was taken care of. And most importantly, the kids were happy.

Bringing a baby into the house puts a new spin on the home life. The learning curve and the stakes seems higher. But the nice part about being a new mom is that people understand when things aren’t under control. No one expects a clean house and dinner on the table when you’ve been home all day with an infant. How is that any different than when dad begins his journey of staying home with the kids?

Children are a whole new language (for both parents) and it takes an entire immersion into their world to fully understand how to keep their lives and the house under control. Maybe if we granted dads the compassion and understanding that we extend to new moms, we’d find that dads are just as capable of running the show. With a dash of fart jokes on the side.

5 Signs I’m Raising a Nerd.

5 Signs I might be raising a future nerd.

1. Not only does he know what a Dalek is, he builds one out of Legos.

2. He comes inside on a sunny day to work out math problems or read instead of playing outside.

3. When talking to you about college he is already weighing out the differences between MIT and Cal Poly.

4. For fun you help him figure out the cost benefit analysis of changing all the indoor lighting to LED light bulbs.

5. He wants his future car license plate will read:

 

 

Social Media and Parenting

Imagine, if you will, Billy Mays sitting at a computer…

“Tired of waiting for Billy to bring over the new girlfriend to show her all his funny baby pictures? Do your kids avoid you having any interaction with their cool friends? Does Jane make you park around the corner from the school to pick her up?

“Well, now you don’t have to! You can get all the lovely social interaction with your children and their friends! And even their friend’s friends! With Social Media, not only can you show Billy’s new chick all his baby pictures, but you can share it with all his future girlfriends and their parents! Did Jane dance funny for you when she was 8? Wanna share those sweet moments of Billy and Grandma pinching his checks? Social Media can do all that and more!

“But wait there’s more!! Login today and sign up from all the different forms of social media and you share all those moments with friends 24 Hours a day! That’s right! Your kids don’t even have to be awake to be embarrassed anymore!”

- Okay now the serious note.

After I wrote this, Kirsten had the following conversation with Anthony after school:

Anthony: “Hey mom? Remember that silly picture you put on Facebook?? Well, now the whole world has seen it!”

Photo in Question - Posted with Permission of Tween.

Kirsten: “What exactly do you mean ‘the whole world’?”

Anthony: “Well, Ben’s mom saw it and showed Ben and now everyone at school knows about it!”

There I was writing what I thought was a funny article about how social media allows us a quicker and easier way to embarrass our children. Every parents right and responsibility.  But then Ethan, our nine year old, puts in his two cents:

Ethan: “Dad isn’t that cyber bullying?”

Dad: “Well, it’s different…wait…maybe…not really. It’s really about the intent, honey. Mom and I don’t share these photos and captions with the intent to humiliate you but to rather show how cute you are as kids.”

Ethan: “ohhhhh….but it’s still embarrassing.”

So, as social media grows and changes, maybe we need to step back and look at how it changes the interactions of the family. Do your kids have access to social media? Should they be allowed to not friend you? At what level do we trust them and let them interact with the social world with out us? Do we become cyber stalkers and read every email, every Facebook comment, every tweet?

Luckily, I have some time to think about this. For you parents already dealing with this, what do you think? What have you learned?

Time Capsule #2

So, this time we had several questions for the boys for their time capsule:

Dad’s comments in red.

Question 1: List your top five favorite foods.

Anthony’s Answers:                         Ethan’s Answers:

1. Dad’s General Tso Chicken        1. Mom’s Mini Meat loafs
2. Homemade Pizzas                       2. Crab
3. Waffles                                           3. Lobster
4. Steak                                              4. Salmon
5. Bacon grease Pancakes             5. Steak


Anthony: 1. Spicy goodness.  2. We need to do this more often.  3. Only if your Nana makes the batter.  4. A boy after my own Heart.  5. You’ve had them ONCE. They must have been good.  Ethan: 1. So Greasy but so good.  2 -4. Not a seafood lover myself but with Nana as your influence, I can see why you love them.  5. You really are a protein kind of kid aren’t ya.


Question 2: Top Five Least favorite foods.

Anthony’s Answers                           Ethan’s Answers:

1. Spinach                                             1. Christmas Salad
2. Brussels Sprouts                           2. Blueberry Muffins
3. Peach A’s Baby bites                    3. Calamari
4. Honey Syrup                                 4. Stuff Crusted Pizza (the crust)
5. Seafood                                           5. Sushi


Anthony: 1. It grows on you. No, I mean it literally.  2. I love them now, hated them at your age. 3. They are for the BABY, stop eating her food.  4. Why? it’s soooo good.  5. High five on that one. Ethan:  1. I think it’s the Gorgonzola you don’t like.  2. Is it the muffin or the blueberry? 3. There is a cooked seafood you wont eat!?  4. We aren’t even going to talk about this (shun).  5. I think you don’t like the idea of it being raw.


Question 3:  What do you want to do in the year 2011?

Anthony’s Answers                           Ethan’s Answers:

1. Laser dome                                         1. Go to California
2. Water area at Hershey Park          2. Go to Disneyworld
3. Taekwondo                                        3. Build the Lego Death-star
4. Fencing                                              4. Play Soccer on a team
5. Buy an upgraded bike                   5. Learn to make Meatloaf

Anthony: 1. No problem.  2. I think we can do that. Game on!  3. Let me talk to your mother.  4. We’ve talked about this; you sign up for fencing, you sign up for Latin dance classes.  5. You can buy whatever you want with your own money.  Ethan: 1. It is not likely – have you seen airfares? Now times that by 5.  2. Maybe when Keira is two or three.  3. Now that’s what I’m talking about.  4. I think we can do that.  5. We can do that next week!


Question 4: What are you New Year’s Resolutions?

Anthony’s Answers                           Ethan’s Answers:

1. Eat Healthier                                   1. Be active every day
2. Get better grades                          2. Help shovel snow until finished
3. Exercise more                                3. Be nicer to my pets

Anthony: 1. No doubt, both of us, but it means no more Willow Street doughnuts.  2. Dude, how much better can you get? A++?  3. Couch to 5K with me.  Ethan: 1. Little dude, if you were any more active, you would put the pink drumming bunny to shame.  2. I’m totally down with that one. I’ll even make hot cocoa.  3. While this is good, I’ve never seen you be bad to any of them. Al, your cat, is just rude no mater how you treat him.


Question 5: What charity would you like to help this year?

Anthony’s Answers                           Ethan’s Answers:

1. Help others study                                      1. Send money to Africa
2. Volunteer to help                                      2.  Send money to Sea Shepherds
middle school teachers
3. Offer my lunch to those who                 3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter
forget their lunch

Anthony: 1. This is a great one.  2. I didn’t even know that was an option. Go for it!  3. Just make sure you eat, too. I did this, too. I paid for a friend’s lunch during high school for nearly an entire year.  Ethan: 1. I think you were talking about the Water program. I’m all for giving.  2. Where exactly are you getting all this cash? Remember, sometimes it’s good to make people aware of charities, too. 3. We are sooooo going to do this, little man.


Kirsten and Jason’s Story

I found this post I wrote for Kirsten and my wedding website which I thought after the website went away was lost. Today is a great day to share where our love started. So if you don’t know “The Story of Us” here it is. If you do, you might laugh even more.

The Story of Us

Written in Spring of 2004

How It All Started

It was the summer of 1996 and I was getting ready to start my senior year at Patrick Henry High School. The summer had been lively but I was now ready to get back the daily routine of school – and all this Started with Band Camp. Yes, I met my future wife at marching band. So yes, I can say “this one time at band camp….” When I first meet Kirsten, she was one of the incoming freshmen and I was one of the old timers – you know the ones that stand in the back of the line up and make faces at the new kids.

The first time we every spoke to each other was at a “Band Party”. The party was pretty usual for us, some people got thrown in the pool, some were attempting to throw others in, and I was off in my own little world hanging out by the spa. Out of all the people there Kirsten, who appeared to be a bright bubbly hyper girl, came up to me and asked if I was doing okay because she noticed that I was alone. To be honest, that was the moment I fell in love with her – true compassion with out looking for some kind of benefit. We talked for awhile while the party continued

As I consumed myself with college application processes, running two of my own companies and the working in theatre department at Patrick Henry, time flew by. Kirsten and I shared two classes together that year. We had band first thing in the morning (which, I will admit, I only remember being awake for half of) and 2nd year French. Even with my time being so occupied by many other things, we grew to be great friends in French class. She started out sitting behind me. We would pass notes back and forth via her shoe kicking me. I still don’t know how Madame Stout never noticed. By October she was sitting next to me. As she told me about her many “boy” problems, I came to love just talking to her. She made me laugh and kept my spirits up when theatre was driving me nuts.

By December, I had found out I was accepted to NYU. I finally got my dream of living in New York City. Up to this point in my life I had never had a girlfriend, although I had many friends that were girls who used to kill my ears with their many boyfriend problems. So being as I knew that come August I was moving to NYC, I resolved myself not to grow attached to anyone. (Yeah, that worked well.)

The Beginning of a Relationship

One night I had been working late at the theatre building sets and I remember Madame Stout was having a meeting about the German exchange students. I thought it would be cool to host a student, and I knew Kirsten would be there, so I figured I would stop by and say hello. When I got there, they were talking not only about hosting, but traveling to Germany with the school that summer. At this point in my life I had never been in another country, not even Mexico. I went home that night and asked about hosting a student. My parents had no problems with that. Later I casually noted that some of the kids were also going to Germany for a month that summer and that I thought it was cool. My dad looked at me and asked if I wanted to go. I said sure, it would be cool but I didn’t know if they would let me. They shocked me by saying that if I really wanted to go they thought it would be a good experience and that I should go. My jaw hit the ground and the next day I was telling Kirsten that I was going, only to find out she would be traveling with the group as well.

Several months later I found myself at the San Diego international airport at 5:30 the day after graduation, getting ready to board a plane for Germany. This was my first time this far away from home but having the other kids there really helped. Kirsten and I even passed her journal back and forth on the plane because she was sitting behind me, just like in French class. We were to spend 2 weeks in Düsseldorf, week in Paris, and a week in Berlin

As we were in Germany, Kirsten’s and my friendship kept growing and we would meet up and hang out with each other. Then one night, when were all supposed to meet up, I messed up and told her that we would meet her on the next train. It turned out we were taking the trolley, not the train and I got all mixed up. I felt so horrible that I got her all mixed up and I couldn’t get the idea of her standing out on the platform waiting for me and me never appearing out of my head. The rest of the night, I started to realize how much having her around affected my mood. It was then I started to realize I didn’t want to spend time without having her around.

The First Kiss

Kirsten did end up forgiving me, although she still sometimes brings up that she waited there for a man that never showed up. On our one week trip to Paris, it rained nearly everyday and I was in such a sour mood cause I had a cold and was having headaches. Kirsten was hanging out in the boys’ room at the hostile. She was reading a Stephen King book on my bunk listening to music when I came in. Andreas went to go take a shower and Robert was reading some novel at the time. I climbed up on the bunk and started talking Kirsten about my head killing me. She let me lay my head in her lap while she read her book to see if I could relax a little. What came next and what I did I will never understand except that my mind knew I had to. Somewhere in my soul I knew if I didn’t kiss her right now I would never kiss her again. I reached up with both hands moved the book out of the way placed my hands on her cheeks pulling her face to mine and kissed her full red lips.

I’ve never felt anything like that moment of my life. I knew I was in love, but as all young men, I didn’t understand it. It was only one kiss. We didn’t talk about it much and we all went to bed that night and I was left to my hated rationality. I kept thinking about college and the age difference and such. The next week in Paris, Kirsten and I were fused at the hip. We spent all our extra time attempting to figure out if this thing could work. Finally on the train ride back to our host town as we were pulling into the station I asked Kirsten “So are we dating?” as she was standing in front of my seat. At the very moment, God sent me a sign – the train jolted to a stop at the station and Kirsten’s knee fell squarely between my legs, leaving me breathless and in much pain. Yes she kneed me and I knew it was love.

Today

Now nearly 7 years and several cross country moves later, we are living happily in PA. Although we have been together for so long, each morning when I wake up to her beautiful face, as she’s kicking me, pinching me, forgetting to turn off the alarm, or whispering in my ear the word “forever”, I think to myself, I love this woman. It’s been a long journey for us to reach this point, and this is only a staging point for the longer journey ahead of us. Soon Kirsten and I will be joined as Husband and Wife, and our worlds will become one as our story already has.

Time Capsule

I’ve started a new project with Anthony and Ethan. I’m going to be creating a “Time Capsule” for each of them. I’ll put some of their school work in there and a few other odds and ends. What I’m going to have them do over the next couple weeks is answer a set of questions that I think they will find interesting to look back at when they are 20 or 30.

So Yesterday I asked them both to list 20 things they wanted to learn in life. Then I had them add why they wanted to learn these things and what jobs they thought might use these skills. I’m posting their answers because they are too cute not to share.

Anthony’s List: Dads comments in red

1. Fly a Plane Why?: I want to fly around the world. Who needs this trait?: Pilots ( Me too )

2. Blow Stuff up Why?: Fun way to get rid of useless objects. Who needs this trait?: Scientists ( Greatest explanation why EVER)

3. Build Robots Why?: So i can have someone help me. Who needs this trait?: Scientists ( what he doesn’t realize yet is that what kids are for :-P )

4.Fly Helicopter Why?: So I can fly around the world  Who needs this trait?: Pilots

5. Learn to Speak all Languages Why?: So I can travel around the world  Who needs this trait?: Translators.

6. Learn to play Electric Guitar  Why?: It’s a good instrument Who needs this trait?: Rock-stars

7. Taekwondo Why?: Self Defense Who needs this trait?: Military (AKA so I can kick my brothers butt)

8. Jump Hurdles Why?:  I like to jump objects Who needs this trait?: Athletes

9. Front Flips Why?: Because they are difficult  Who needs this trait?: Stuntmen

10. Back Flips Why?: because they are difficult  Who needs this trait?: Stuntmen

11. Read minds Why?:  Useful Who needs this trait?: Superheros (guess that answers the age old geek question: Fly or read minds?)

12. Take stuff apart and put it back together Why?: To understand things Who needs this trait?: Engineer (just stop doing it to things that aren’t broken in the house!)

13. Juggle Knifes Why?: It’s dangerous Who needs this trait?: ? (My own fault : I do this. )

14. Build a Catapult Why?: Cause they are ancient Who needs this trait?: Engineer (Why cause it’s fun darn it! everyone should have at least one.)

15. Save and Spend Money Wisely Why?: Useful Who needs this trait?: Bankers (This one made my freaking day!)

16. Blow Glass Why?: decorations Who needs this trait?: Renaissance Faire Glass Blowers

17. Build a fire in the fireplace Why?: Useful Who needs this trait?: A Dad :’-)

18. Sketch Why?: for fun Who needs this trait?: Artists

19. Build a Hovercraft Why?: cool Vehicle  Who needs this trait?: Scientist (Heck yeah!)

20. Climb Mountains Why?:  Hobie Who needs this trait?: athletes

From all this I’ve determined Anthony is going to be an inventor who makes tons of money and globe trots around in is own airplane. In his spare time he’s going to become a stuntman/special effects person so he can blow stuff up and build catapults. And like many people with too much money he’s going to start a rock band that wont ever really get that far cause he’ll be spending too much time climbing mountains in Asia to ever tour. Oh and don’t forget he’ll be rolling up to your house in a Hover Craft designed by Deeds Designs inc. 

Ethan’s List Dad’s comments in red.

1. To Fly a Helicopter Why?: So I can fly around the world Who needs this trait?: Pilots

2. How to build a robot Why?:  So I wont get lonely Who needs this trait?: Engineers (as long as I’m around you’ll never be alone.)

3. How to build an airplane Why?: It would make me capable of building one if I had all the pieces Who needs this trait?: Engineers

4. How to build a car Why?:  So I could understand the engine Who needs this trait?: Engineers

5. How to paint Why?: I want to teach Art Who needs this trait?: Artists (just not on the walls okay)

6. How to play the bass Why?: I’m interested in Deep instruments Who needs this trait?: Musicians (there is a lonely Bass guitar downstairs in the basement.)

7. How to build a Military Ship Why?Who needs this trait?:Engineers

8. How to pitch accurately Why?: I want to pitch in baseball Who needs this trait?: Baseball Players (first step keep your eyes open when you throw)

9. How to build pencils Why?:  So I can make my own Who needs this trait?: Engineers

10. How to make a sword Why?: Because I want to work at the Renaissance Faire Who needs this trait?: Blacksmiths (can we start with nerf swords)

11. How to take profession pictures Why?:  I like to take pictures Who needs this trait?: Photographer (just ask mom)

12. How to blow glass Why?:  the process is so interesting Who needs this trait?: Glass blowers (maybe we could get a family discount to learn)

13. How to build a submarine Why?: Blank  Who needs this trait?: Blank

14. How to launch a rocket to the moon Why?: Because I would like to someday Who needs this trait?: Scientists (when you do make sure there is a seat for me.)

15. If Alien Exist Why?:  I can I always think I see UFO’s Who needs this trait?: S.E.T.I. (if you find out let Papa know he was right)

16. How to make Military Weapons Why?: To help defend our country Who needs this trait?: Engineer

17. How make a rockets Why?:  I want to help NASA make the next Rocket Who needs this trait?: Engineer (do this before number 14)

18. How to catch a football with one hand Why?:  So I can be a running back Who needs this trait?: Football players (I think we need to go over player positions)

19. How to build a TV Why?: So I know what materials are needed Who needs this trait?: Engineer (you can’t have one in your own room till you move out, even if you build it.)

20. How to make Ink Why?: So I can make ink when I need it Who needs this trait?: Engineer (I’m curious when you think you’ll need it)

From all this I’ve determined that Ethan will work for NASA working on their Deep space missions building ships that are like a Space Navy. He’ll have to build a robot to keep him company on the long voyages. He’s going to play in his brother’s rock band via web-cast from deep space. In his off time he will look for alien life and play space football on the observation deck of the USS Deedski, the first Military Spaceship to fly outside our Galaxy. 

Photobug

I’ve been looking at pictures of Anthony and Ethan from the time we moved out here till just recently. Those two boys are growing WAY to fast. I feel like I need to take a picture of them everyday just to keep up with the changes. With all the craziness that is our life lately I’ve decided to take some time aside and make sure to get in some good pictures of the kids. The dishes in the sink, the clothes in the wash, the unsorted boxes in the basement can all wait an extra hour. I need pictures of my kids before they are no longer kids.

Finding the time is the problem. If I’m home in the morning then they are at school, if I’m home at night they are usually taking care of their homework or outside playing while I take care of the baby. I NEED to make this happen. Keira has tons of pictures. 1. she’s a baby, cute as can be. 2. Taking a picture of her is like shooting fish in a barrel (yes I did just use that age-old saying.) I think I need to break out the camera gear it all set so I can just take it on the fly. Get pictures of the kids all the time before they are too old to want to go on a shoot with their old man.

One of the hardest parts for me is I love pictures in my hands, with the wave of digital they tend to stay on the sim card or on the computer. I was thinking each year we need to create a print book either for the entire family or one for each child. That way we can see how our life is changing. This year in particular would be very interesting. We could load an entire section of the images Kirsten took while preggers. I think I need to make “The Deeds family album 2010 a priority.

Daddy Duty

Starting tomorrow, I will be on Daddy Duty full-time. This will be Kirsten’s first trip out-of-town since Keira was born. Baby Keira and the Boys will be without their mommy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and half of Thursday. On Thursday, I’ll be packing up the kids and all their stuff for two days down in D.C..= This will be interesting a three-hour car ride with the boys and Keira. I think when I hit the hotel I’m going to be taking a nap while mommy takes the boys and Keira to the pool.

To top it off, I didn’t really realize I work Monday night until 11pm and Tuesday morning at 6:30am. So I’m scheduled to only get 5 hours of sleep anyway, add to that a teething baby, I might as well stay up all night. I don’t think I would mind the 24/7 Daddy duty, except at night. I normally get up with Keira anyway, but if she get’s really cranky, mommy feeds her. It will take a lot more effort for me to feed her than mommy. We’ll see how this goes. In truth, it’s our test drive for Kirsten’s big trip in December. Kirsten will be out of the country for just over a week. Then it will be the holidays. Oh, and in January, Kirsten works 60+ hours a week. I don’t think Rogaine will be able to keep up with the amount of hair I will lose in the next three months. :-P

Is it February yet?

You Can’t Always Just Fix it…

One of the hardest lessons I have learned am still learning, not only as a parent, but as a husband is you can’t always fix the problems. The best thing you can do is listen, let them get things off their chest. Even if you think you know the answers, just keep them to yourself. Sometimes people just need someone to hear their frustrations so they don’t feel alone. I’ve struggled with this for much of my life. I’m a fixer, could be because I’m male, Sagittarius, or even that my name means healer. For whatever reason, I am constantly trying to fix the problems my family brings to me. What is that really teaching my children though? Run to Daddy, he’ll make it better. Lately I’ve been trying to give my boys more freedom, but with it comes more responsibility for their own actions or inactions. I think I’ve said to Ethan about 100 times. “Well what’s the solution.” He generally already knows that answer himself and doesn’t need me, he just needs more confidence in himself.

I’ve hard the hardest time when it comes to Kirsten, nothing hurts my heart worse than to see my wife frustrated and crying over something I have absolutely no control. It literally drives me insane, but I can’t let it. It won’t help her work through things if I’m acting mad and frustrated, too. Not to give away my secrets, but I’ve found that if I listen and ask questions instead of over solutions she work through at least the emotions, if not a possible solution for her problems.

You can’t always just fix it… but you can always be there to listen when they want to talk.