10 Things I Love About Kids…

March 24, 2018 11:33pm
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  1. When you’re holding them and they put their little hand on your shoulder as if some sort of highly regarded confidant.
  2. Their insatiable passion for cookies.
  3. Quietly watching them play from a distance.
  4. Muppet shoes.
  5. Dinosaur roars.
  6. Genuine, earnest laughter.
  7. Teaching them how to fly.
  8. Perpetual, unbridled happiness.
  9. Perpetual, unbridled happiness with regards to food.
  10. Random leg hugs when you least expect them.

Dining with Kids

March 4, 2018 1:19pm
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Last night was the first night in a couple of months that we’ve taken the entire family out to dinner … namely because the last time we tried, it was absolutely terrible!

The three of them have just been at a bad age overall because Christopher isn’t as occupied by his iPad as he’s been in the past, and David & Matthew are starting to become wild in their own right. As much as we really enjoy eating out, it’s just not worth the hassle when you know that 90 minutes later you’re going to walk away cranky after paying so much for food you only got to half eat because you spent more time dealing with kids that didn’t want to be there than actually enjoying the atmosphere…

😛

So last night wasn’t great, but it certainly was an improvement from last time. Still, there were a few points of note that I wanted to write about…

  • Why is it that servers act like they’ve never seated a table with kids before??? When you see me quickly whisking silverware and plates and anything away from the kids the moment you set them down within their reach, maybe don’t put anything else within their curious grasp?! Luckily we had a table that sat six with only four seats occupied, so there were some spots where we could “stage” everything, but even when they bring out drinks, it always shocks me when they put them right in the middle of the table when two seconds later that’s precisely what the kids go for…
  • Time seems to pass slower when you’ve got kids teetering on the edge of cranky. I don’t know if it was because we were one of the last tables of the night, but I swear we had one of the slowest servers in existence – frustrating when you’re waiting on those french fries to occupy the kids, or the check so that you can just get the heck out of there! It’s made me start to wonder if servers treat families like ours like the hot potato because we eat slower and they anticipate a below-average tip … although the second part is a misnomer because I actually try to tip more when my kids leave food on the floor that they have to clean up!
  • Don’t make me beg for water. This one has nothing to do with the kids, but one of my primary measures how I rate food service is how well they do at keeping my water glass full. At a good restaurant, I shouldn’t even have to ask for refills, whereas at a bad one I’m lucky to get a single refill all night … which sucks on nights like this when I purposely order something spicy… 🙁
  • Dessert is ALWAYS to go! As much as we would’ve liked to enjoy a warm dessert there at the restaurant, the kids had lasted about as long as we could possibly expect, and in fact Christopher had fallen asleep in the car before we pulled out of the parking lot. Sometimes you have to know when to cut your losses and call it a day!

All in all it was nice to somewhat get a meal actually served to us at a table as opposed to out of a window, and it’s encouraging to see that maybe the kids are getting to the point where they’ll let us score a bite to eat without the prerequisite that two-thirds of them have to be asleep and the third has to be in a really good mood!

Gun Violence Overload

February 17, 2018 2:26am
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My brain is completely fried from everything surrounding this week’s mass shooting at a high school in South Florida.

Yesterday I wrote an essay about my thoughts, which didn’t get the support that I had expected.

Today I spent way more time than I should commenting on threads with people who will never ever ever consider guns to be even one iota of the problem because it’s everybody else’s fault – parents, violence in the media gun-free school zones – you name it, they’ll point the finger and then make sure that we never mention their beloved guns in a negative light on their watch. It’s so apathetic and sad, it leaves me speechless.

When I went to pick Christopher up from school, I couldn’t help but notice that the flagpole out front had the American flag flying at half mast, and I paused for a second to try and figure out how to explain to a four year-old that it was a symbol of respect because a very bad person had hurt some kids at another school.

On the plus side, holding his hand as I walked back through the parking lot to our car renewed my position on this matter because I realized that I’m going to have kids in the public school system for probably the next 15 years and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and just accept that active shooter drills need to be a part of their curriculum because adults can’t get their shit in gear and figure out how to stop bad people from barging into their schools carrying guns.

I’m still VERY ANGRY about the topic, and I’m rapidly losing respect for anyone who shrugs it off and says that there’s nothing we can really do because that’s bullshit and my children deserve better.

It really disgusted me to find before I started writing this that in fact I’ve already written about mass shootings many times before…

I don’t know how we as a nation got to be so lethargic about gun violence, as if it’s just the uncomfortable side of our right to bear arms that we all have to accept in the name of freedom.

The NRA, an organization that as far as I’m concerned should be leading the charge on responsible gun ownership, spends tens of millions of dollars every single year lobbying politicians to steer clear of any legislation even remotely resembling gun control.

And gun sales spike every time there’s a shooting, just like they surged whenever a Republican talked about how Obama was trying to take away our guns when calling that statement an utter lie doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

My mind goes numb just trying to wrap my head around it, but I know that we’ve got to change. We’ve got to have open dialogues about all sorts of ways to combat mass shootings, from mental health to better background checks to more parental awareness, better security in schools, and maybe some guns even need to come off the streets, too.

I know that gun advocates consider that to be treason, but if we can’t even protect our own children in their own schools anymore, we don’t deserve to call ourselves The Land of the Free. 

Kids deserve better from us and adults need to start acting like adults.

When kids who had to hide inside of closets beg on TV for adults to do something, anything to help protect them from all of this senseless violence, every last one of us should be ashamed. 

Parents shouldn’t have to bury their teenagers because you’re too afraid to loosen your grip on the assault rifle that you cuddle with in bed every night out of this paranoid delusion that it’s the only thing protecting you from your government.

The entire world shakes its head and sighs about how pathetic it is that America can’t seem to figure out its gun problem when it has almost as many weapons as it does people and it spends more on its military than it does on taking care of its own people.

America cannot possibly be “the greatest country in the world” when we stand by and do nothing while our kids are murdered at their schools, and I’m tired of listening to people give excuses – young and old, gun owners and paid-off politicians and just crabby Republicans in general – who shrug their shoulders and say, “There’s nothing that we can do…”

Stand up and get the fuck out of the way so that those of us who still care about our kids can do something before even more schoolchildren are chalked up to statistics.

Excessive Viewing

October 28, 2017 2:21pm
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One of the unique things that I’ve experienced as a parent is that we tend to watch the same movies over and over again in our house.

Case in point – I think I’ve seen The Lego Movie three times in the last 24 hours, and Moana at least twice … although once was this morning and I was still asleep for the majority of it.

Only with a toddler is it possible to have the conversation:

Dad: That movie was great – what do you want to watch next?

Kid: Toys!

Dad: We just finished watching Toy Story … the credits are literally still playing on the screen.

Kid: Toys!

Dad: Toys it is…

Admittedly we probably let our kids watch TV a little more than we should, but frankly there’s three of them and only two of us, and when one of us is incapacitated with work or whatever … hey, I’ll take any help that I can get! 😛

Besides, I don’t really paint TV as the terrible threat that a lot of people consider it to be because I’ve seen plenty of its pros firsthand. Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse have done a great job of supplementing and reinforcing what Christopher is learning with his letters and numbers and shapes and colors, not to mention speech, creativity, and gaining a better understanding of the world around him and how things work.

Yesterday he came into my office and I was drinking out of a bottle of water, and so he pointed to it and said, “Me try it!” and we had a fun, little (albeit wet) mishap of him trying to drink straight from a bottle, and regular water no less! All because of a Sesame Street song with various singing foods convincing Elmo to try something new.

And a big part of why I introduced him to The Lego Movie last night is because he’s gotten more and more into Legos in the last year, to the point where he’s not only playing with Duplos but also most of my own Lego sets which are several years above his age range. It was really awesome to look over and see him playing with his own in between watching scenes in the movie – I was finally able to capture a picture of it this afternoon…


If my kids were literally just vegging in front of the TV for hours on end not doing anything else, I might be more concerned, but they tend to watch a lot like Sara and I do. We’re almost always doing something else while we’re watching, and a lot of times I’ll just have it on in the background to listen to episodes of Shark Tank or something while I’m doing the dishes or other simple work. TV has way too much value to tune it out completely, and as long as the kids are getting something worthwhile out of it, I’m ok with that.

…even if it means watching Bolt for the fourth time in a row on the same day… :O

I really hate all of that macho, bullish crap about dads “protecting” their daughters by threatening their dates with guns and whatnot. Isn’t like the first rule of owning a gun something about not waving it around in front of people like a complete lunatic???

Thankfully I never really had to go through anything like that growing up. Hell, I still get shivers thinking about the time when the father of a girl who I wasn’t even dating raised his voice at me for calling too late – I probably would’ve moved out of state a lot sooner had one ever actually pulled any of this white trash, overly protective nonsense…

I mean, sure – I get it. Teenagers are stupid. My friends and I did plenty of stupid things when we were growing up, like stealing an orange construction barrel from the school and drinking the cheapest vodka we could get our hands on until we spent the rest of the night puking sandpaper!

But with all sincerity, our stupidity was mostly pretty well contained in that nobody ever got hurt, or drank and drove, or got pregnant, etc…

And I get that not everyone’s stupidity was as harmless – for the opposite of those same things.

I just look at my three sons, and if I try to imagine them in that awkward situation where a father of one of their prom dates wants them to pose with a picture of their rifle, or even just tries to make a joke about how he’ll be cleaning his guns until 10:00pm that night … I don’t really know what I’d do.

Because I can’t very well say that I’d threaten another man for jokingly threatening one of my sons with a weapon … that goes against the whole point of this.

But I might have to sit down and ask him just how much he likes this girl because crazy can be dangerous, too, and I have to look out for my sons just as much as that guy claims to be looking out for his daughters.

Christopher – 1, Buzz Lightyear – 0

January 17, 2017 1:19pm
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Today I was reminded of an old episode of the Gobots in which Leader-1 got captured by the Renegades and ran through this machine that effectively disassembled him into little more than a pile of nuts and bolts…

It seems those age ranges that Lego puts on the side of its boxes are there for just such an occasion like when your toddler wanders off with your Lego Buzz Lightyear and proceeds to disassemble him by banging him repeatedly against his high chair’s tray to signal that he’s done with his lunch.

Sorry, Buzz, but if it’s any consolation, the other Guardians did manage to put Leader-1 back together again by the end of their episode, so I’ll see what I can do just as soon as I get this little Renegade of my own put down for a nap! 😉

When I saw this particular ad from Hillary earlier this summary, I couldn’t help but agree with it … though admittedly she’s already had my vote for a thousand other reasons, so I didn’t really give it a whole lot of thought beyond that…

…until today I came across this article reporting that the NEA suggests that Donald Trump’s campaigning is posing a negative effect on children, particularly with regards to bullying on the playground, citing examples of Latino kids getting bullied by their classmates about “deportation” and talking about “President Trump’s wall.”

I feel like this is an important topic worth discussing because despite my oldest son only being 2.5, we’re already desperately making changes in how we talk around our house to try to prevent one of his favorite words from being “Shit!” It’s no secret that children’s minds are impressionable and even if they don’t understand the complicated subject matters at hand, they still pick up on keywords and heated emotions that you might not necessarily want parroted back at you in the grocery store or when your relatives are over for a visit.

One particular example specific to politics sticks out in my mind from the last election cycle after President Obama defeated Mitt Romney and got re-elected for his second term. The child, who will go unnamed, was absolutely devastated that Romney lost and spent god knows how long bawling about how “our country was doomed” because Obama had won his re-election.

It’s worth noting that his parents were both clearly Republicans, though I haven’t a clue just how vocal they were about their political choices in front of their child, but regardless, I think it’s safe to say that ten year-olds shouldn’t have a political affiliation whatsoever!!!

I was only vaguely aware of politics even though most of high school when we started taking classes about government, and it probably wasn’t until the Monica Lewinsky scandal was everywhere in 1998 during my senior year that I even partially began paying attention … most likely at that point just for the giggles – I couldn’t have told you about any of Clinton’s actual policies to save my life…

Granted, I grew up in a household where politics wasn’t really on the forefront of anybody’s minds, whereas now thanks to social media we have the opportunity to get all riled up about politics pretty much 24×7. And that’s a problem for all sorts of other reasons, too, but with regards to parenting I think we might need a reminder not only that our kids are always listening, but also learning from how we debate and discuss our political beliefs…

…and if you’re the kind of person who tends to get most of their information from Facebook posts and soundbites – that might not be the kind of learning that you really want your child to be exposed to!

Now it goes without saying that I think Donald Trump is a horrible choice for president and any number of things that he’s said would get any of my kids’ mouths washed out with soap if I ever heard about them getting said out on the playground at school, but I also think that we need to be aware of the things we say because our kids are listening to those words, too, and who does a child learn to emulate first but his own Mom and Dad?

When you rave about how Obama is ruining the country and how these libtards don’t know freedom from the hole in their asses … that’s an example of respect, or lack thereof, for your children to learn.

When you polarize your views based only on a candidate’s failings and ignore the legitimate things that they’ve accomplished in their career … that’s an example of blind politics and a failure to find the good in other people.

And when you brush off racist and sexist remarks because you think that political correctness is a blight on our nation’s future … you’re giving a pass to your own kids to treat other people the same way, and maybe they don’t see it like just a joke as you claim to view such behavior yourself.

Parenting over the last couple of years has taught me that we have to be more aware of our surroundings because it’s never quite as cute and hilarious when it’s your own kid running around the living room shouting, “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!!!” when you’ve got company over, and heaven forbid it becomes a habit that resurfaces sometime when they’re in church or school! 😯

So not only do we have to watch our own behavior, but seeing that we can’t exactly control the behavior of the politicians that we follow and support, it does beg the question of why they deserve our support if they can’t serve as good role models while running for the highest office in the land.

Food for Thought – 20% of the US population is under the age of 15 – which candidate would you rather they learn how to treat their peers from???

The Sevener Twins Have Arrived!

September 16, 2016 1:18pm
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Apparently I haven’t blogged here in a while, so what better way to return than by sharing the announcement of not one, but two new additions to the Sevener family?! 😉

…I’m sure there will be plenty of posts about the anxiety and dual dirty diapers in the near future, so stay tuned for that!

* * * * *

Today has been a special day as we are very thankful to be welcoming not one, but TWO new baby boys into our family…

David Owen Sevener (formerly known as Baby A)
Born on Thursday, September 15th, 2016 at 12:10pm
4 lbs 3 oz – 18 inches long

AND

Matthew Edward Sevener (formerly known as Baby B)
Born on Thursday, September 15th, 2016 at 12:11pm
2 lbs 1 oz – 13.5 inches long

Both babies are resting in the NICU with the same phenomenal staff that helped welcome Christopher into the world here only 2.5 years earlier, and though we’ve still got some challenges ahead of ourselves before they can journey home, overall today was a grand success.

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(continued from today’s Thing-a-Day post entitled Gate Breach…)

It felt a little cruel and wicked witch-like after literally locking Christopher in his own bedroom earlier for naptime, so after taking a few hours to regroup, here’s my new defense scheme that I’ve planned to hold out the night:

  • The primary gate at his bedroom door – the one he can climb over – is slightly elevated off the floor, but now not enough for him to be able slip under. I’m not sure if it’s too tall for him to climb and he can still just pop it out of place with a good blow, but that’s ok…
  • All other doors in the adjacent hallway have been closed off and locked, so if he does escape from his room, there’s really nowhere else for him to go. Note that the laundry room is apparently the one door that isn’t lockable, so in theory he could slip in and gain access to brooms and other weaponry, but I did lock the outer door leading out to the garage, so any attempts to sneak out to his getaway vehicle should ultimately prove to be futile.
  • And lastly, the outer gate that normally keeps him out of the hallway and isolated in the kitchen / living room / playroom area of the house has now been secured to instead keep him in the hallway should he ever get this far. This he will not like because unlike the other gate at his door, this wooden gate is still taller than he is, offering maximum security at admittedly a premium price. That said, if it ends up getting put to the task, we may need to look into picking up another one to replace the inferior gate at his bedroom door…

As of now, he’s been under lock and key for approx. 25 minutes and despite much crying and protest, this upgraded security system seems to be keeping the toddler at bay. Now it’s just a matter of time to see if we make it through the whole night.

This is my house – I have to defend it!

…from my wandering, bedtime-resistant two year-old son… 😛

In hindsight it’s something I wish we would’ve just done a year ago, but today we finally bit the bullet and opened Christopher’s college fund.

I think the delay was that the last time I researched all of this, I wanted to go with a plan from Vanguard but their 529 offering requires a $3,000 minimum deposit so we’ve been slowly saving towards that, however in reviewing some of my own retirement savings (through T. Rowe Price) I discovered that they don’t have a minimum at all and it only takes a $50/month recurring contribution to eliminate the nominal $10 annual fee, so I guess I finally just figured why not?!

It’s kind of scary to think of what college might cost 17 years from now when you consider that it’s literally gone up over 1,000% over the last 30 years … I’d like to hope that numerous things will happen between now and then to help get costs back under control, but in the meantime any little bit that we can offer our kid(s) is certainly going to help!

Truth be told, neither Sara nor I really got any financial help for our respective educations. I didn’t qualify for any grants, but I only did two years so was able to balance the costs between living at home and putting on credit cards what I couldn’t pay with my job at the time. Sara pretty much got student loans to cover both her bachelors degree as well as her nursing degree when she left teaching to go into nursing, and although the problems with student loans themselves are a rant that is entirely too un-jolly for an advent blog post, I will say that based on her current repayment schedule the last of them are set to be paid of in 2029.

In comparison, Christopher should be starting college himself ONLY FOUR YEARS LATER in 2033!

Regardless however, the numbers are still very much in favor of a college education being “valuable” in more ways than just the economic and as parents, we kind of look at it as our job to make options like that available to our kid when he has to make that all-too-important decision of whether to go off to college right away or to jump headfirst into a nightshift position driving a delivery truck that will slowly eat away at his soul until he finally decides to suck it up and give college a try anyways… 😛

So Merry Christmas, Christopher – very much belated since you were born 18 months ago, but we’ll do what we can to catch this puppy up in the years to come!

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