Ask Your Dad Blog

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sleep and Hard Decisions


Sometimes the sponsored posts are fun. I get to try something new, sync up with a bunch of cool people, and make a few bucks to keep this blog running. This one was not as fun. It brought up some hard decisions. It caused some difficult discussions. Even as I am writing this I don’t know what the answers are, but before I get into all that let me just say: This post is sponsored by Beautyrest and in partnership with Life of Dad. All opinions are mine.

Beauty Rest sent me a sleep tracker that I have been using for the last thirty days to keep track of how much or, in most cases, how little I am sleeping. It is a pretty amazing little piece of technology. A sensor placed between my mattress and my box frame monitors my movements, my breathing, and my heart rate throughout the night. The plan was to use it for 30 days and see how much I could improve my sleeping. Stevie and I both put one on our side of the bed and every morning we look at how we slept, how our heart and breathing rates were, and how many times we woke up.

We woke up a lot. And it is my fault.

All those orange parts are me waking up.

Here’s the thing, and this is embarrassing and hard for me to write about. I snore. I snore loudly. I always have, but as I’ve gotten older and heavier it has gotten worse. It affects a lot of different aspects of my life. I am hesitant to share rooms with people on trips. I am terrified of dozing off on airplanes. My kids refuse to sleep in our bed. (Ok, that last one has come in handy.)

Stevie is a champ about it, and incredibly kind, but I know it is affecting her. It is affecting me too. I am tired all the time. I drink way more coffee than I should. I have low energy during the day. I am basically a walking checklist of the symptoms of Sleep Apnea. I know it. Stevie knows it. I just haven’t wanted to admit it.

Stevie has asked me to go to the doctor multiple times. I haven’t listened. I’ve gotten embarrassed and angry, which isn’t fair to her. I just know what they are going to say. They are going to tell me I am fat and that being not-fat is going to help. They are going to tell me that if I can’t be not-fat then I am going to need to wear a CPAP to sleep. A CPAP is a machine you wear while sleeping, and honestly, as someone who feels claustrophobic if there is a blanket near my face, I can’t think of a worse living hell than having the rest of my nights of sleep be consigned to a plastic breathing tube.

But there it is on our sleep reports, plain as day. I am keeping us up. My breathing rate is dropping. Stevie even recorded me snoring and played it for me. You know that feeling you get when someone takes an unflattering photo of you and you get a glimpse of what the world sees you like when you’re not sucking it in or holding the camera at the best angle? That gut punch feeling of confirmation of all your self-conscious fears crashing in on top of you like a wave shitty truth tumbling you over and over and pulling you back into a nightmare you’ve been doing your best not to look at? Try watching three minutes of yourself snorting and gurgling and trying to breath on a normal Tuesday night. Try realizing that this is what your wife lives with… what she sleeps with. I feel like a broken monster.

And the solution? Well I’ve been trying to not be fat for a decade, so I suppose I will keep up that fight. In the meantime, I will see a doctor and hook myself up to the CPAP to see if it will help. I have my doubts, and my fears, and my self-deprecating thoughts… but those aren’t going away regardless of whether I am hooked up to a machine. Maybe at least Stevie and I will be able to sleep.

Thanks to Beautyrest and Life of Dad for involving me in this campaign. I know it didn’t turn out as cheerful as others, but the technology worked to shine some light on things that needed to be addressed. For that, I am grateful. And even though I did not improve my sleep over the 30 Day test, my hope is that the truths I am going to be facing over the next few weeks will eventually lead to both Stevie and I sleeping healthily through the night.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I need to go make a doctor’s appointment now. If any of you have had similar experiences or advice, all comments are appreciated. If you want to learn more about the Beautyrest Sleeptracker you can check it out here. It works really well and I am am happy it came into our lives when it did.




Monday, February 27, 2017

Things We Tried - Do Your Part(ner) Follow Up!





This post is sponsored by my long-time friends at Plum Organics.

So a few weeks ago Stevie and I made a fun video and took the Plum Organics Pledge to Do Your Part(ner). The pledge wasn’t just to get jiggy with it (yes I just typed that) but also to make time for each other outside of our parenting responsibilities. Honestly, it was a nice reminder that we need to work harder to find time alone together. So, remaining completely PG, here are the actions that Stevie and I did over the last three weeks to find time to find each other, and their consequent reactions and results. Spoiler alert: Some worked. Some didn’t.
Action: We turned off the TV
It seems like such a simple thing, but tell that to someone who absolutely NEEDS to know who Nick sent home on The Bachelor. Still, despite my need to see who got sent home and whether it affected my standing in my Bachelor Fantasy League (It didn’t. I’m still losing), Stevie and I decided to turn the TV off and spend a night actually talking to each other. Reaction: My wife is really funny and smart and fun to talk to. With a little gentle prodding our talking muscles warmed up and we worked our way through discussions about our kids, family and friend gossip, future plans, who annoys us most on The Bachelor, and whether we should buy a new house. Result: We fell asleep like two kids talking about comic books at a sleepover. Yep. No nookie. I guess we are just too interesting. By the time we finished talking about ALL THE THINGS it was past midnight and as many of your know, married people don’t have sex past midnight or they turn into gremlins. Neither of us minded though. It was really nice to have such a long, uninterrupted conversation.

Action: We gave each other massages
Our box came with massage oil. We both like massages. It seemed like a perfect match. We cracked open the massage oil, put on some Enya and planned to each give the other a nice massage.

Reaction: Stevie fell asleep during her massage. Stupid Enya.

I don’t blame Stevie for this. You may have already heard, but we stayed up until midnight talking to each-other the night before and regardless of how late we decide to stay up, our kids’ internal alarms still go off at 6:30 AM every day. Pair that early rise with a full day of work, an evil snow-filled commute, rushing the kids to gymnastics, a post gymnastics living room dance party to the entire soundtrack to Moana, bed time stories, catching up on the Bachelor (that show REALLY does not need to be so long) and by the time we got to Enya and massage oils we were already half asleep.  The only reason she was the one who fell asleep was because she got to go first. I would have crashed too.

Result: I snagged a towel, cleaned off the flowery smelling back oil off of sleeping Stevie, and cuddled up for some much needed rest.
Action: We watched a bunch of porn.
Just kidding. We didn’t do that. I just thought it would be funny to freak you out. We did watch Notting Hill, which is kind of like cheesy emotional porn. We thought a romantic movie might be a nice beginning to an “us” night. To avoid falling asleep, we set the all the clocks forward an hour in the house and convinced the kids that it was their bed time when it was actually only seven. I know, we’re monsters. If it makes you feel any better, our plan totally backfired because when we moved our literal clocks back their internal clocks also moved back an hour… so 5:30 AM the next morning was just AWESOME. At least we got to watch our movie.

Reaction: I fell asleep 25 minutes into the movie.
Look. It wasn’t really my fault. My wife is an incredibly comfortable pillow. Not that she is big and pillowy… which would be fine too, but she is warm and she does this thing where she absent-mindedly runs her fingers through my hair and it’s just so damn relaxing. And let’s be honest, Notting Hill is basically the romantic-comedy equivalent of Enya. I mean, yeah sure. Hugh Grant is charming and British and Julia Roberts has a distractingly large mouth, but if you close your eyes and try to pay attention to the movie it is a giant yawn-fest. I was out before Rhys Ifans (the best part of the movie) made his underwear clad entrance.

Result: Once she noticed I was out, Stevie allowed herself to fall asleep too. We woke up on the couch at 5:30 AM to Netflix asking us if we were still there and our kids asking for Frosted Mini Wheats.  
Action: We got naked and hopped into bed
Don’t picture it. Don’t even reread the subheading. Just go back to laughing about Notting Hill. Pretend I didn’t say anything.

Reaction: This worked just fine. Funny how throwing two naked adults who love each other into a bed has that effect. Mission accomplished. We did our Part… ner. (I’m so sorry.)

Result: We both fell asleep after. It was perfect.
Anyway, thanks for tagging along for our PG sex talk. It was a really fun campaign and we appreciate Plum Organics for involving us. Sorry (not sorry) we didn’t make another baby-food eater.  

Oh! And the winners of the Do Your Part(ner) Boxes are…
  • Gabe Tononi
  • Laurie Drake
  • Melissa Barton
  • Baily Young
  • Mary Gordan
If one of these is you, check your email!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Stevie and John Talk about Sex, and Being Parents, and Kids, and Stuff [Video]



This post is sponsored by my long-time friends at Plum Organics.

So… yeah. A baby food brand asked me to create a post about sex. Why? (You and I both ask simultaneously?) Well, I believe the first reason is that sex means more babies and babies like baby food. Also, having worked for Plum for a couple years now discussing ALL the unfiltered realities of parenting, I can tell you that they care about parents being happy. And well… sex and sad don’t really pair.

Before saying yes I checked with Stevie to see if she was down for a little parent time sexy talk on the blog and she said fine as long as Plum doesn’t think we’re having another baby, because no sir/ma’am.

I talked about sex once on this blog and things got a little crazy. It was probably because I had kind of a click-baity title. The piece was called “Giving up on Sex” and honestly it was kind of a bait-and-switch. We weren’t really giving up on sex. The whole premise was that Stevie and I both felt so much pressure to keep up the physical intimacy portion of our marriage that the anxiety it was causing was seeping into and affecting other portions of our life. And it was hurting any drive we had to put the effort into being intimate. So we gave up on sex being an obligation or a chore. It worked out great… for awhile. Then it didn’t. Then it did. Bottom line there were a lot of internal and external factors that kept us from finding each other in intimate situations and sometimes just loving each other and waiting for it to happen was a great solution… and other times that was a dumb idea and we needed to put in the effort.

Which is why I’m stoked about this cheeky campaign with Plum. It is called Do Your Part(ner) and the whole point of the campaign is to empower parents to make time for their relationship and their partner, sans guilt. They’ve made a website with videos, expert resources, and some fun quirky humor. It's also a place to take a pledge to Do Your Part(ner).

To celebrate the launch of the campaign, Stevie and I interviewed each-other with some sexy time questions, and took the pledge together. We also opened our date-night box that Plum sent us! Anyway, check out the video and stay tuned until the end for a special announcement. (NO WE’RE NOT HAVING ANOTHER KID.)


OK, so the announcement is that if you go take the pledge and come back here to leave a comment saying you did so, I will be selecting five winners!

Step 1: Go to http://www.doyourpartner.com/
Step 2: Take the pledge.
Step 3: Come back here and let me know you did by commenting and clicking contest button.
Step 4: Probably most likely win.*



*Chances of winning are actually determined by the number of entries in the contest, not by me saying the probability.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Horrible Moments in Parenting #3569

Last week during dinner I was trying to ask Duchess about her day and she matter-of-factly told me that she didn't feel like talking. A few minutes later she had chewed her tortilla into the shape of a star and was remarkably proud of herself.

"Look dad! I made a star."

"I don't feel like looking at it." I quipped back.

And then she started bawling.

I thought I was being snarky and she would immediately relate it back to what she had said earlier, but that's not how it came across. It came across as cruel and dismissive... which honestly she has probably never experienced from me before.

Anyway... not my finest parenting moment. But, there are no take-backs. We fill our lives with irrevocable acts, and its only later we find out which ones actually mattered.

One time, when I was about my daughter’s age, my dad and I were going to the store. I was probably a year into reading and was paying particularly close attention to business signs. When we pulled into a strip mall I asked “Dad, why are the O’s on the Payless Shoe Store sign orange dots.”



“I don’t know. That is a really good question,” he replied.

Let’s be honest. It wasn’t a really good question. It was kind of a dumb question. Knowing the answer to why a graphic designer decided to make the O’s orange dots on the Payless Shoe Store sign probably would not have been a life changing realization. But all six-year-old me could think was ”YES! I asked a good question!”

Even now, knowing that it is a silly six-year-old question, I still get that little tinge of pride in my gut thinking of my dad saying that. There is NO way he knew at the time that he was creating a tiny happy memory nugget in my growing brain. But here it is 30 years later getting written down. I kind of wonder if someday my 35-year-old daughter will be making a tortilla star with her teeth and suddenly become very sad at the thought of me not wanting to look at it.

What’s the lesson I learned? I guess I have two. 1, I need to be less of a snarky asshole with my six-year-old. She understands a ton, but sarcastic teasing is still just dad being a jerk. 2, kids operate on a different scale. I should be proud of star shaped tortillas just like my dad was proud of my questioning of brand fonts. If my kid starts a blog someday I want it to be about how I was proud of silly things, and not that I walked away in a snarky huff.

I want to be the dad that is proud.

This is a re-creation. This time I told her it was the best tortilla star I had ever seen.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

The King of Soup is Me

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods for this campaign, but all opinions expressed above are unbiased and true. For instance, the soup is actually as good as I say it is. Seriously. It's exceed all my expectations.



It's January and I am writing about soup again. This time I am working with Idahoan® Foods. They apparently heard about my love of soup and asked me to give their potato soups a try. Since this post is also a partnership with my long-time friends, Life of Dad, of course there is a spin on it. They challenged me to become the "#KingofSoup" by transforming my kitchen into a steak house... and then eating soup.

You guys know me. I won't pass up an opportunity to put an adorable bow-tie on my kid and have him serve me steak, so we gladly obliged. I stopped by the store and picked up a couple New York cuts for Stevie and I, and some Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets for the kids. FYI, Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets are the Steak of the kid world.




But back to the soup, because that is why we are here. Look guys. I am going to be completely honest. I have long been a lover of powdered mashed potatoes. When I was younger and thinner and more apt to wander off into the mountains for weeks at a time, powdered mash potatoes were an easy and light way to carry calories. The potatoes I brought were Idahoan® and I loved them very much. Toss a little cheese and some boiling water into a mug with your potato powder and you have a delicious dinner.



But could they do soup? The answer is yes. Yes they can. Surprisingly well. It was better than soup I have had at some real steak houses.

We made the Creamy Potato one that night. The rest have been eaten since.

The Steakhouse

While I was excited for the soup, Stevie was excited to get to use a tablecloth. That is, she was excited until she realized that our table cloth was in the garage and I may have left the lawnmower on top of it. We're working through that. Instead we used a sheet, because we are classy and our steak house is classy.


Duchess also decided we needed rose pedals on our table. I tried to tell her that steak houses don't have rose pedals on tables and she just looked at me with eyes that said "You get soup, dad. Let me have rose pedals."

I looked back at her and thought with my eyes "How do you do that with your eyes? Did you learn that from your mom?"

"Are you trying to fart dad?"

"No. I am talking to you about rose pedals with my eyes."

"You are weird"

"No. I am the #KingofSoup."

When a six year old rolls her eyes at you, you know you're parenting at a 10.



Duchess didn't just want to set the table. She also wanted to make the soup. She is getting really good at making all sorts of "pour this thing into that pot" foods. I may be the #KingofSoup, but she is the princess of Mac and Cheese. She did really well with the potato soup too.


Captain, on the other hand, cannot be trusted in front of boiling water just yet. So he got to be the MaƮtre d'. He was just as excited by his tiny bow-tie as I was. I wish I could wear bow-ties. Bow-ties are cool. Unfortunately, at my current weight a bow-tie makes me looked like a tied off upside down balloon... so I live vicariously through my son's bow-tie. That's how parents do it right?



Side note. Captain has hit maximum cuteness. We didn't think it was possible for a kid to get cuter, but holy cow. My theory is that since he is the second child and constantly competing for attention that some sort of evolutionary cute gene kicked in and now he has unnatural level's of cuteness. I may be the Soup King, but Captain is so cute that I don't even remember how I was going to finish this sentence.



Anyway, that's all I've got. In summation, I still love soup. We got to have a fun date night with potato products, and my kids are pretty swell.

Also, Stevie apologizes for not taking any pictures of us. She's not sure how it happened. I blame the bow-tie on my unnaturally adorable son. Anyway, try the soup. Seriously, you'll be surprised by how good it is. Try dipping your dinosaur chicken nuggets in it... or your steak.

For more information, be sure to follow @Idahoanfoods on social media or stop by Idahoan.com







Friday, December 9, 2016

In Defense of Santa



The other day, a buddy of mine posted an article about how lying to your kids about Santa is bad for them. He agreed with the article. I disagreed. We're still friends. No big deal. BUT at one point in the conversation he said, "I still have yet to find an argument FOR perpetuating the Santa myth that is the least bit compelling."

AND I thought, "Challenge accepted. I am going to convince this guy that the Santa myth is awesome." I started to write a point by point rebuttal, and halfway through realized that it didn't matter one bit. Trying to convince people why they shouldn't feel how they feel about something tends to become more of an exercise in self-justification than a sincere effort to make a connection with someone who sees things differently than you. I wasn't really trying to convince my friend. I was just having fun writing about Santa. So I’m giving up any pretense of trying to change my buddy’s mind, or anybody's mind for that matter, and admitting that this post is all about me. And my kids. And Santa… who. Is. AWESOME.

We play the Santa game. We tell the stories and perpetuate the myth. We visit the guy in the mall, and at various company parties. We make cookies and leave out milk. We stay up late after the kids go to bed wrapping presents in paper we've kept hidden all month. We eat the cookies they left out as messily as possible so our overzealous crumbs will provide the obvious clues needed to figure out that, indeed, Santa was here... and he's kind of a slob. Why do we do it? What's our compelling argument? It’s fun. The kids enjoy it. Stevie and I enjoy it. 

And...

We like magic

Stevie and I feel that it is important for our kids to believe in magic for a bit. We think that a belief in magical things is great fertilizer for cultivating imagination in tiny humans. The magic of the world will be removed by the curse/blessing of perspective soon enough. For these few years we want to let them believe reindeer fly, and see where it takes them. Yes, some people will say that it is our job to drop as much reality on our kids as possible so that when they’re eventually confronted by a world full of it they have the faculties needed to cope – but I like to believe that having that tiny memory somewhere in the back of my head of what it felt like to believe impossible things were indeed possible is what helps me cope with the harsher realities of being an adult.

We don't mind lying

“But what about the lie? You’re lying to your kids?” Says the imaginary person in my head I am arguing with.

If the worst thing I ever do to my kid’s is lie to them, then I will be forever happy with my parenting score card. We lie to our kids all the time. We tell them they are safe. We tell them we’ll never go away. We make promises we know we may not be able to keep. And we do this to help them feel secure, because the fallout from discovering the lie is less than the fallout of dealing with the truth. 

Chances are that I’m not going to die any time soon, so I tell my kids I’m not going to die. I tell my kids there is a Santa because I believe that the joy they get from believing in Santa is more than the disappointment they will feel when they discover the truth. Do I know this for sure? No, but I don't really know anything for sure... not since becoming a parent.

Learning the truth is a great exercise in... learning the truth

I do know that, for me, discovering the reality of Santa was one of the first times in my young life that I can recall gathering facts, exploring their validity, questioning what I had been told, and finding out things weren't the way I had been taught. I wasn't resentful of my parents for lying to me. I felt empowered by the process of figuring it out, and excited to move to the other side of the myth. It felt like a right of passage. Yes, all of that is anecdotal. I don’t really care. I don’t need to.

You know why? 

We don’t have to dissect everything 

That may be my least favorite part of being a parent. Sure, this may not be a compelling argument, but it honestly doesn't need to. Sometimes, when I've buried myself in facts and theories and arguments about what is and isn't best for my kids, when I've kept myself up at night asking over and over if the choices I am making for them will break them or form them into happy humans, I come to the conclusion that no amount of advice will help. I just have to trust my gut. I just have to believe.

I believe in Santa. Not, that he exists, but that letting my kids believe that he does is better for them than making sure they know he doesn't. I believe. And trust me, as a non-religious, science loving, fact finding kind of guy, that is hard for me to say. Well... it's hard for me to say until Christmas morning when my kids run out to the tree yelling "Santa came! Santa came!" Then it suddenly becomes pretty a compelling argument.



Merry Christmas,

The Kinnears

P.S. Yes, my favorite Christmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street. Both the original and the remake. I love them both.

P.S.S If you want to give me a Christmas present, please come visit me on Facebook. It would make me tremendously happy.