3 Steps to Winning Soccer Practice Snacks

It’s a rite of passage.

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…and sometimes you let them wear pirate hats to soccer because it’s just easier that way.

You signed your kiddo up to play soccer. (Yay!)

And then you signed up to bring snack next Sunday. (Ugh!)

Here’s the reality of the soccer-snack relationship, the order of importance KIDS place on the weekly gathering:

  1. Seeing Friends
  2. Snack
  3. Running & Screaming
  4. Wearing Gear
  5. Getting There On Time
  6. Playing Soccer

So, snack is pretty effing important, mom and dad.

Thankfully, we can make it super easy for you with this step-by-step guide.

  • Bring two options. Seedless oranges/clementines plus a modular bag/squeezie. This should be easy for kids and parents to grab and open/peel. If possible, let your player help pick it out.
    • Pro-Tip: Leave the chocolate at home. It may melt during the practice and no parent wants chocolate-covered hands in their car.
  • Make sure you have enough. At least 25% of the kids will bring a sibling. Look at the list above – if you are dragged there by a parent and aren’t playing soccer or even wearing some gear, snack is pretty much all you can look forward to.
    • Pro-Tip: You can ask a bored sibling (or one of your own bored kids you brought along!) to help you distribute snack.
  • Bring a trash bag. A grocery bag will do, and this is something other parents notice – and your kid can help with! Ask them to go bring the trash bag around to collect trash and even a 3-year-old can feel like they contributed.
    • Pro-Tip: Throw a roll of paper towels in your bag. You won’t regret it.

Follow these steps and you can spend the hour rooting on your kid, sipping your hot beverage, socializing with other parents – confident you will win snack time.

 

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What’s Your Favorite Truck, Dad? Optimus Prime

Over the past few months, we’ve done something creative at dinnertime.

Our two oldest kids are 5 1/2 and nearly 4 – certainly able to carry a conversation.

So, in the vein of late night talk shows, each night they get to host their own chat show to interview the rest of the family, complete with an announcer (Daddy) giving them an introduction Ed McMahon would envy. #DatedReference

You can imagine the adorably painful conversations at the beginning. One evening, The Best Mom and I had to answer, “what is your favorite color” five times, even saying the next question HAD to be different.

But over time, the questions became better and led to what we hoped it would be: a deeper dinner conversation beyond “how was your day” and a way to fuel their curiosity and confidence.

My son asked me an innocent question one night last week and my answer was reflexive:

Bug: Daddy, what is your favorite truck?

Me: Optimus Prime!

I knew he was expecting “dump truck” or “fire engine,” but, dammit, Optimus Prime, Transformer, leader of the Autobots, is my all-time favorite truck!

Long-haul trailer by-day and galactic superhero on-call?

Please, tell me which truck is better than Optimus Prime?

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Here is where it got good.

Instead of blowing off the comment as another silly thing Daddy said, Bug asked a follow-up question(!): “What is an Optimus Prime?”

That kicked off a 20-minute conversation with my kids on the Transformers, including watching (several times) an animation of Optimus Prime transforming from truck to robot and back again.

A few days later, we were driving on the highway and my daughter started asking me if every truck we passed by was a Transformer. Granted, it got old after 4 trucks, but it felt amazing that my kids were now curious about one of my favorite childhood brands.

It’s a delicate balance – you push your favorites on them by saying “Watch this, I loved it when I was your age!” and you’ll likely get a fairly negative response. Guide them to being interested in it and their perspective changes entirely.

Next up: Figuring out solutions for Fraggle Rock and Thundercats!

The Flu Shot and the Crossface Chicken Wing

I took my daughter to get her flu shot last week.

She hates needles and is big enough to run away from them.

The nurse and I looked each other in the eye and I knew I had to do SOMETHING.


Like many kids of my generation, I was (am) a massive professional wrestling fan.

Real life superherodownload-8es and villains competing in the center of a jam-packed arena…and broadcast into my home on Saturdays…and Sundays…and eventually Mondays, Thursdays…and…well, now you can fresh wrestling content on TV just about every day of the week.

I vividly remember in 1994 when Bob Backlund returned to the then-WWF to face Bret Hart. Before my time, Backlund was a champion and superstar. (I didn’t remember a time before Hulk Hogan)

In their bout, Backlund was the aged golden boy…doing the same schtick he apparently did in the 1970s that earned him prominence and fame. However, the 1990s fan was a different fan and his goodie-two-shoes persona agitated fans.

Then, when he couldn’t beat Hart…Backlund snapped!

He locked Hart in a devastating hold I’d never seen before – the crossface chickenwing!

Backlund wrapped one arm around Hart’s neck and used his other arm to wrench his shoulder.

And to REALLY sell it, Backlund screamed like a banshee, with veins bulging from his neck and beady eyes wide open.

I thought Hart was going to die at the hands of this crazy old man!


As Beanie screamed at the sight of the flu shot needle being prepared and the nurse asked for her shoulder, I had the eureka moment.

The crossface chickenwing will keep her shoulder stable long enough to get the shot.

Finding inspiration from Bob Backlund’s hold, I pulled Beanie’s arm back to expose her shoulder. I then gently restrained her flailing neck with my other arm then wrapped a leg around her to prevent her from running mid-shot.

It wasn’t pretty (and it did NOT hurt her, only restrained her for safety), but it held for the five seconds needed to complete the shot.

When it was all over, I expected my daughter to spew venom at me like never before.

Instead, she smiled and said it wasn’t that bad. Then asked for a sticker.

And that’s how watching professional wrestling helped ensure my daughter got her flu shot. See, Mom and Dad, I told you it would come in handy one day.

[Note: Please do not use wrestling holds on children. This was for medical purposes only to help a nurse to give my scared kindergartner an important shot. Thank you.]

batman day

Happy #BatmanDay!

batman daySuperheroes are kind of a big deal in my house.

Growing up, my uncle owned a comic book store, so it was easy to follow the escapades of my favorite characters.

I gravitated to the DC Universe, one filled with pure fantasy and imagination. Time travel. Aliens. Mythology. While I’ve always appreciated the Marvel line, it was never my #1.

Batman was an anomaly compared to Superman (my all-time favorite fictional character), Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the rest. His parents were shot and killed when he was a boy, leaving him all alone in a dark world. The future Dark Knight trained himself to be a one-man crime-fighting machine, grappling with Gotham City’s most dangerous villains.

His superpower was his grit, determination, and creativity, fueled by a desire for justice.

A self-made hero in a world where most heroes are born with powers or acquire them through an accident. That definitely stood out to me.

I love getting to share the love of these characters with my children. Bug asked to wear a Batman t-shirt today…and when I found out that today is #BatmanDay, how could I refuse?

What comic book character impacted you the most as a kid?

 

 

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Parenting and Punctuality

Punctuality is an interesting concept.

Being somewhere EXACTLY when you are expected to be there is a mix between science and art. You have to know yourself and the situation around you and plan for the unexpected, all for the chance to be there perfectly on-time, no questions asked.

Before kids, I was on-time, every time, like we all wish airplanes would be.

Now, as a parent, I have dual perceptions of what punctuality means in my personal life. [Note: professionally, punctuality is the rule, without exception.]

  • Sympathy

My family is three kids, two adults, one dog.

For us to get the entire brood up, fed, dressed, pottied, packed, and in the car to go anywhere at any time takes a Herculean effort.

Kids are messy – literally and figuratively. Let’s focus on the figuratively. They provide unexpected challenges at every turn, from clothes that fit YESTERDAY not fitting today, to hating what was their favorite food last week, to nap time lasting blessedly longer than expected, to having a meltdown because you put on Paw Patrol and not Sesame Street.

It’s nearly impossible to crack the code and figure out what combination of timing, food, clothing, packing and everything else aligns to get us where we need to be.

Feel for us parents. Excuse us. Don’t judge us for tardiness when we have kids in tow.

  • Anger

On the flip side, parents know how valuable every second of every day is.

If we are expected somewhere and we get there when we should get there…and someone is late…that does not go over well.

We didn’t do everything we had to do to get somewhere on-time to wait for anyone else. That’s wasted time and we don’t have time for that.


dad baby napIs this a double standard? I’m pretty sure it is.

But do know this: All things being equal, staying home to watch movies, play in the backyard, and bake cookies sounds like a fulfilling day to me.

So if parents go through the trouble to get the family out of the house – be it one kid, three kids, or even more, it means we REALLY want to see you and spend time with you.

If your parent friends are going to see you today, you are better than pajamas and cookies.

Which means you are amazing and incredible and valued and loved. You are the party parents want to be at.

We’ll do our best to get to that party on time. Feel free to get started without us, though. The baby is napping.

“I Love You All The Love”

1528556_10152123734075148_564563917_nEvery single day, I tell all of our children the same thing:

I love you all the love.

[As in, all the love that does, has ever, or will ever exist…that’s how much I love you.]

Maybe it’s just a media thing, but how many stories/movies/shows have you seen where the dads can’t mutter “I love you?”

And the fallback response is “they know how I feel.”

Do they, though?

Do kids know how you feel about them if you don’t explicitly tell them?

My hypothesis (driven by no actual science, but by life as a parent of three kids and as a son who heard his dad say he loved him all the time) is that there is no way they can know unless you constantly tell them.

Case in point: Two years ago, my daughter made me watch all three Madagascar movies…about 25 times each, not exaggerating. Now she does not remember them at all. I’ll repeat: she does not remember movies

Us parents, though, we remember what happened two years ago. I will never be able to get certain scenes from those movies out of my head.

As kids grow, they lose their earlier memories and the only reality they know is what is presented to them. By you.

And sometimes it may get cumbersome. Like this recent chat I had with Beanie:

 

Me: Beanie, I love you.

Beanie: DADDY! I know that already. You don’t need to tell me that EVERY DAY!

Me: Yes, I do need to tell you. What if you don’t know?

Beanie: How about this? I’ll tell you the days that I forget that you love me and you can tell me then.

Me: ……………………..I love you.

Beanie: DADDYYYYYY!!!!!!!

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t care. I don’t care how old they get. I don’t care if it embarrasses them in front of their friends. I don’t care if they want nothing to do with me that day.

All I care about is that they know – on each day, no matter what – that their dad loves them.

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Free Babysitting in Washington, DC

chime logoA night out on the town without kids is every parent’s dream. Peace. Quiet. No baby vomit. No “I don’t like that” screamed when they see their favorite dish.

But there are so many obstacles to hitting the streets. Chief among them: childcare.

Who will watch your kid(s) while you wine and dine?

We’re really fortunate to have so much family living close by who enjoy our three monsters, but not everyone is so lucky.

The Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Washington, DC, is partnering with Chime, the new curated, neighborhood-based offering from SitterCity.com to help get parents in their locations.

From the release:

Starting July 27 through Labor Day, NRG and Chime have partnered to offer DC families the opportunity to enjoy a night out without their kids. With nearly 20 NRG restaurants you can choose from an incredible array of dining options. And the best part? NRG is going to take care of the babysitting. Thanks to Chime, your children will be in good hands. Visit hellochime.com and enter code NRG to receive 4 hours of babysitting credits ($60 value).

Basically, they are removing the biggest hassle in having a date night in Washington, DC.

Chime only serves up a handpicked selection from the top 1% of all sitters on SitterCity, and only those close to you – a perfect solution for urban and not-too-far-out parents like us, who live ~5 miles north of the city line. It’s also available in New York, Chicago, and Boston, and I have a good feeling other cities will be added soon.

And NRG has some of my favorite restaurants in the city (like ChurchKey!), making this a delicious deal for all parents to consider.

So, DC Parents, no excuse to not have a night out together. Alone. With some of the best food in town.

[Disclosure: I was invited to a media dinner, which I was unable to attend, and also received credits to use while learning the Chime experience.]