Monday, November 30, 2015

Dinner at our House is Rarely Cute

So… Campbell’s Soup, whose soup I love and eat without being paid to say so, reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate in their #RealRealLife campaign. You may have seen their recent spot with the two dads doing the Star Wars schtick with their boy. It is adorable and you can watch it here. So I was like “Sure Campbell's. I like your soups. My kids like your soups. They’re quick and easy to make. Yeah, you can pay to sponsor a set of posts on my blog.” And then they were like “Awesome. Oh, by the way, we’re also going to send you a Keurig that makes soup.” What is this magic you speak of? Deal done. And here we go…

This month’s soup post is about dinner at our house.

I really wish I could say that dinners at our house were cute. I guess sometimes they are. Maybe one out of ten of them are cute or slightly resemble the dinner table in a 50’s television show. Heck, I even wish I could say that dinners at our house are adorably hectic like the dinner scene in A Christmas Story where the mom consistently has to get up to get stuff and never gets a warm bite of food. Even that would be good. But if I am being honest, more often than not our dinners mostly involve a progression of crying, bargaining, more crying, capitulating, possibly some more crying, and then arguing about why we’re not having dessert.

Here’s the thing. It’s not that my kids are picky eaters. For the most part they aren’t. Sure, they like chicken nuggets and pizza more than they like me, but they like every other food just slightly less than they like me. And it’s not they would rather be plugged into an iPad or a TV than sitting at the dinner table with their family. When I yell “Dinner's ready!” they yell “Hooray” and come running. It’s once they sit down that something eventually triggers the chaos. The reason for that? When members of my family are hungry, my wife and myself included, we become horrible irrational people.

The chaos always comes out of left field. The plate is too pink. Duchess wants broken AND fixed ice. Captain dropped a piece of food on the floor and our dog ate it. Captain dropped a piece of food on the floor and Riley didn’t eat it. There is no rhyme or reason to it. We just have to take our kids as they come, even if they come hungry.

Ideally we would have dinner earlier. 5:30 would be great, but that’s not what dinner looks like in our house. Unless I swing through McDonalds on the way home from the office, a home cooked meal isn’t going to be on the table until 6:30 – 7:00. Sometimes we give them snacks right when we get home, but that snack somehow magically turns into a plate of uneaten food an hour later.

One solution we’ve found is quick foods. If I can have dinner on the table within 15 minutes of walking in the door, that turns into the 1/10 cute dinners. Unfortunately (or gloriously if you are my kids) 15 minute dinners end up being mini corn dogs, chicken nuggets, or PB&J sandwiches. All of which they love, none of which are exceptionally good for them..

You know what else is quick? Soup. Yeah, I know that’s a pretty convenient transition for a sponsored post about soup, but I am being 100% honest when I tell you that when I read the initial email from Campbell’s about doing this series, I was cooking a box of Frozen-themed condensed chicken noodle soup. Immediately showed Stevie.

“Ha! Check it out. Campbell’s wants to work with the blog and I am literally making Campbell’s Soup right now.”

I poured the soup into the kids bowls’, set a grilled cheese (cut in triangles, not squares) next to each one, and the four of us sat down to our 1/10 cute family dinner with no screaming and no crying and Frozen themed noodle soup.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Something I Wrote for My Boy on His Birthday

Last night my boy and I rolled around on the living room floor. He'd run towards me arms out, full scream... “AHHHHHHHH!!" Then his whole self would collide with my chest sending us both rolling backwards. His laugh was like summer rain, surprising at first, comforting as it washed over me, strong until it wasn't. 

After a few seconds of rolling back and forth his laugh stuttered out and I set him down so he could grab more breathe from the room.

“AGAIN! AGAIN! Daddy!” 

He turned, ran to the fireplace, turned again and ran once more to my chest. 


When he was born I never really worried about loving him. When his sister came into the world my heart opened up in a way I didn’t know was possible. I found that love was not finite. My capacity to generate it was nuclear. 

I did worry I wouldn’t get time to know him. 

Life gets busier and busier. My daughter fills a room, a world really, with her joy and her tears. I worried for a while that he would get drowned out by her awesomeness. 

I was wrong. He is a beacon on the mountain. All things come to him, including his sister. They co-exist in my everything. They hold hands in the car. They lay on each other while they watch movies. They both jump on top of me and scream and laugh and scream and laugh and scream and laugh. Then they do it again. 

Last night she was sitting at the kitchen table tracing pictures of Stevie with a pencil while Captain and I rough-housed on the floor. “Come on YeeYee! Come on!” 

“I can’t, buddy.” (She calls him buddy too.) “I’m learning to be an artist like mommy.”

“OK. AHHHHHHHHH” And again we rolled backwards. I am a human roller coaster. I am The Colossus. 

He loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates. His favorite word is pleeeeeeaase. Not please. Pleeeeeeaase. When he says “I lub you daddy” I try to blink and capture the moment like a picture. I want his tiny voice in my ears and his face permanently attached to the backs of my eyelids. I want the moments on dial up, random access memory for my lonelier moments. 

After wrestling we got him in his jammies. He didn’t want pants, because he is a normal human being and who really wants pants. I said OK, because I am a kind and benevolent father also sleeps without pants on. I read Little Blue Truck. Then he read Little Blue Truck. I read Naked, and then he read Naked. His turn is really just him turning the pages and yelling out the words he knows. I like to yell them with him. (By the way, Naked is the title of a book. My wife pointed out that this sounded weird.) 

I turned the light off and I sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” When I sang “Skies are blue” he said “No. Green.” I sang “skies are green” and he said “no, red.” We went through all the colors he knows and he giggled every time. This is our thing. This is our language. This is our goodnight.  
Foreheads were kissed. Hugs given and taken, and another night with my boy was done. I shut the door and went downstairs. 

Later that night when Stevie and I went to bed I opened his door and peeked in on him. He was asleep, Little Blue Truck tucked in the crook of his arm. It was 11:30.

“What are you doing?” 

“I don't know. I just wanted to see him one last time as a two-year-old.”

“Let me see.”

Stevie and I ended our night together staring, perhaps a little too long, at our boy. Our perfect little dude. Our last two-year-old. Fast asleep and almost three. 

Happy birthday, buddy. We love you. 

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