28 January 2012

Prepping With Children - The Tactical Diaper Bag

When I decided to be a Stay At Home Dad, there was no way I was going to use my wife's choice of diaper bag. After looking at the huge bag filled to the brim with junk, my OCD freaked out and I knew I had to find a dad's bag.

After a bit of looking, I found it. The Maxpedition Colossus Versipack, shown here with the addition of the Maxpedition Fatty Pocket Organizer and two Maxpedition Mini Rollypoly Folding Dump Pouches.

This thing is great! It has so many pockets and pouches I can fill it with everything I need for a day out with the kids. I'm a bit spoiled, I admit. I like my conveniences. If I'm out with the kids, I want to be able to have easy access to everything I need to have a trouble free outing. Whether it's rewetting drops for my contacts for when that Texas dust blows, or hand sanitizer that I can surreptitiously grab after my daughter wipes her nose on her hand and then grabs mine to dance. (I try not to give my kids a complex, but I am a bit of a germophobe.)

So now I have a ways to carry pretty much everything I might need in a relatively compact way. The versipack itself has a large main compartment with several interior compartments. This is where the diaper cream, toys, and extra change of clothes for each child, brush, tissue and daily or trip specific items get tossed. On the top of the main flap is a compartment which holds plenty of snacks for the day. On top of that is a crosshatch of bungee straps which is great for keeping large items like a blanket, jacket or highchair cover. On the back, towards the body, is a large ambidextrous concealed carry holster which can comfortably carry a 9mm and extra magazines if so desired, or coloring books if you prefer. There is also a large flat pocket which easily hold a half dozen of my diaper changing packs. These my wife thought I was nuts for, until she had Little Man out and had to change him with one of my packs.

Now let me explain. I'm not nuts. I'm OCD, but I'm not nuts. I also hate wasted effort or trying to find things when I need them. A place for everything, and everything in it's place. That's my philosophy. It's not my wife's philosophy. She'll read this, so I'll stop there. Suffice to say I analyzed the diaper changing process and tried to improve it. My son can blow out any diaper, and I danged sure didn't want to have him at the store or a museum with me desperately trying to find wipes that had fallen down to the bottom of a pile of junk in a huge bag. Hence this whole exercise in organization.

This is my answer. A vacuum packed bag containing a diaper, a diaper disposal bag, 2 Sani-Hands Wipes, and another separately sealed bag of 5 wipes.

The first time Sweetheart used one, she was hooked.

The Rollypoly pouches are great for sippy cups, and fold up when not being used. And the Organizer is handy to keep adult supplies separate and easily accessible. Rewetting drops, headache meds, etc. There's also room for car keys on a clip, my camera, my large multi-tool and a box of Pepto for that day out at the state fair.

Put together, this bag has made life so much easier for us. I'm able to get the kids out with less fuss and more enjoyment. I had it all ready for our first day at the Texas State Fair, and it helped make it the most easygoing outing ever.

27 January 2012

Discovering Hobbies

I never really bothered with hobbies. Figured I didn't have the time for them. I have always loved history and geography, but those aren't hobbies. And I am a voracious reader. Sweetheart keeps threatening to reduce my Kindle budget, because I go through a few books a week. Guess I'm going to need to rediscover the library. But I never really had hobbies. Or so I thought. Recently, I was surprised to realize that I've developed hobbies - mostly since my first child was born. Some rather surprising hobbies for a big ol' Texas redneck.

For some background, a couple of years ago, cancer - and a host of related health problems - caused me to reevaluate my lifestyle. Part of what I realized, was that my family ate alot of junk. Sweetheart and I LOVE to dine out, and we've passed that on to the kids. Let us get in the car, and Princess immediately asks if we can go to a restaurant. And at home, we ate alot of processed food out of packages. And I wasn't raised that way. My Mama was a good cook. I have alot of fat I'm still trying to get rid of to prove it. I was raised on meat and potatoes from our own back yard. Mama had the obligatory Hamburger Helper box in the pantry, but I don't remember it ever being cooked. And yet, I was feeding my family nothing that didn't come out of a box.

About the time I realized this, I also began researching the Prepper lifestyle. Do any kind of search regarding preparing for disasters, and one of the first things you'll find will be wheat, wheat and more wheat.It's versatile, stores forever, etc. I started finding this and thought, um, seriously? Wheat?? But I try to be a good example for my kids and part of that means not jumping to conclusions. So I decided to see exactly what could be done with wheat - because I'm not going to buy anything I don't use on a daily basis. To make a long story short (enjoy...I don't do that often) I now own a grain mill and alot of hard white winter wheat. And I'm not allowed to buy bread, tortillas, biscuits or any other kind of baked goods, except donuts. I haven't tried to make those yet. Even pizza. I'm warning you guys, you let your wife watch you make a pizza for her from flour on up and you might as well erase Domino's from your speed dial.

So now I'm a hobby baker. Well, maybe more than a hobby, since I literally grind the wheat and make my family's daily bread, but it's sure not work. It's too relaxing for work. I get a kick out of experimenting with new recipes. Especially since the love of my life bought me a Kitchenaid stand mixer for my birthday last year. Just like Granny's, only more powerful. I can whip up danged near anything now. And when I screw up completely, it's easy to clean.

I especially like to get the kids involved. Princess is my baker's assistant. In the morning, she gets her step stool and helps me cut out biscuits, making sure to remind me to form a "bone" for Furball. We've created holiday traditions around it, as well. Daddy makes all birthday cakes. Oh yeah, guys - let your honey watch you go through the very involved process of making her very favorite red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, when she knows the only box involved held the cream cheese, and you might just get to understand one of the reasons this ol' boy likes to bake.

Maybe as my son grows, I'll be able to develop more stereotypically  "manly" hobbies. Like blowing up model rockets or maybe even building houses...who knows. But then again, having a hobby which lets me engage my child and puts a smile on her face is actually pretty manly, I believe.

19 January 2012

From the mouths of babes...

I love listening to my daughter as she rambles on. It's not always easy to understand - she's a lazy speaker and just started speech therapy - but every now and then something comes through clear as a bell that just makes you fall over laughing. At least on the inside, 'cuz she gets real upset if she thinks you're laughing at her when she's being serious.

So tonight at supper she started talking about "when she was a baby." Goodness, you'd think she's 30! So she was telling us all about her infancy - and getting quite a few details correct - when all of a sudden she started telling us how we just periodically become homeless! I had no idea!!

And then I realized - that's what it seems like from her perspective. She doesn't understand yet that when we go to Grandma's house, our house is still here waiting for us to come back to it. She thinks we go to Grandma's when we don't have a place to live!

Make's me wonder what else she thinks. It's kind of cool to let the mind wander back to 3 years old and see the world anew.

16 January 2012

So Much Blood!

It's really kind of amazing when you think about it. We made it through almost 4 years of parenthood with no serious emergency room visits. Only went once when we were freaked out about Little Man having RSV and we were being overly paranoid parents. That time, he stopped screaming and started nursing as soon as we got into the ER. Then he fell happily asleep. I suppose every parent has at least one story of paranoid stupidity, and that's mine.

Yesterday afternoon, however, was a bit different.

So I'm sitting at the table watching Little Man have a snack and happily surfing the internet while Sweetheart is gearing up Princess for a bike ride. Princess just got her first big girl bike and was begging to ride by herself. Sweetheart decided it would be a good time for a photo op. Who knew Princess , who had been having trouble figuring out the whole pedaling thing, would suddenly figure it out - right as Mommy was distracted getting the camera.

So Princess takes off like a shot...

Mommy calls for her to stop...

Princess hits the hand brakes...

Princess stops by planting her head into the concrete.

Oh my!

Sweetheart runs in the door saying, "I need your help, she's bleeding!" I head out the door expecting a skinned knee or some such minor thing. Princess always wants Daddy to kiss the boo-boo and make it better.  That's my job. I kiss boo-boos.

What I did NOT expect was to be stopped in the doorway by a fountain of blood that was my precious daughter! Wow, head wounds are real gushers! There was blood everywhere, literally pouring out of her head.

So I get her corralled enough (kind of like catching a greased pig) to find the wound and danged if her "protective gear" wasn't the culprit. Her helmet gave her a gash 1 1/2 inches long and 1/4 inch deep. Right over her left brow. That's when fatherhood kicked in and I got the bleeding slowed down enough to get her to the ER for her 6 stitches. I can live another 60 years and die happy if I never have to hear my child scream like that again.

And of course, I'm blogging about this for the obvious reason.

Princess wants to go for a bike ride...

Sweetheart ain't having nothing to do with it...

And I'm trying desperately to stall the inevitable by blogging about it while trying to remind myself that she has to get back on that bike today.

It occurs to me that sometimes we have to let them get hurt to let them learn about life, but my goodness - how do you let go when you don't want to let go?

Ah well, she's at my knee begging, so here goes nothing.

12 January 2012

Being Prepared

As well as being a SAHD, I'm also a prepper. Oh, I can already imagine the comments that statement will elicit.

No, I'm not an end of the world conspiracy theorist who thinks zombies will soon run amok. I don't wear camo, and I don't own a 4 x 4. Though I will admit to having some vacuum packed ammunition, but only because I got it that way at a great sale price.

Nope, I'm not that exciting. I'm just a practical fellow who has a family to protect and provide for. Several years ago, Sweetheart and I started noticing that prices on our most frequent purchases were slowly but surely going up. Not much at first, but enough to notice.

Then about 18 months ago, I had on of those Ah Ha moments. The educated among you would call that an epiphany, but today I feel like the redneck I was born as, so I'm calling it an Ah Ha moment. Out of the blue I realized that I was actually in a tenuous position. My continued life, something I'm kind of fond of, depends on certain medications being readily available. And about 18 months ago, there was a shortage.

Now I'm an American. I've never had to wait for anything I needed and I'm too young to have experienced a shortage of anything. Ever. I'm spoiled.

So this shortage got me curious. And when I get curious I dig. It's what I do. I love research. The more I dug, the more oddities I found. Prices tripling for basic items, medication shortages, fuel price increases, etc. So I tracked a few things and saw a trend developing that freaked me out a bit. Sweetheart was pregnant and had a toddler to care for. We have always been blessed with financial security, but like most Americans, we had less than a weeks supply of actual food in the house. There had never been a need for anything else.

So we talked about it and decided that it only made sense to become preppers. We prep, not for armageddon, but for the eventualities which have become more and more common these days. The loss of a job, or another extended illness. A home fire or tornado. In other words, we prep for life and the interesting eventualities which inevitably visit themselves upon said life.

So that's some of what you will find here in the future. As the husband of a frequent traveller and the father of small children, I have found being prepared is an absolute necessity of life, and I'll share what I can to help others.

Time Flies

Kids grow up so fast. A few days ago, I had one of those days that just makes a Daddy realize how fast time flies.

Monday started out normally enough. Busy from the beginning. I had an appointment in the afternoon and Sweetheart wanted to do some shopping afterward, so she took off and went with us. At my appointment she kept the kids in the waiting room while I went back.

Now here, I have to say that the most wonderful part of being a stay at home Dad is that I get to see all the firsts. I'm there for everything. Right? Wrong!

For months now, I've been working with Little Man on his motor skills and balance. Building him up to take that incredible, momentous first step. I just new he would walk for me. I just knew he would reward Daddy for all his hard work and patience.


While I'm in the doctor's exam room I get a text from my wife. Little Man took his first steps! And I missed it! And Sweetheart wasn't even diplomatic enough to lie and let me think his second step was his first.

Oh well, such is a Daddy's life. We work with them, care for them and teach them to be independent. Then we are blessed to watch, or hear about, their first steps into the world on their own. They move forward on their own terms and in their own time, and we let them go and try not to hamper their budding independence by hovering or making them perform on command, or by letting them see how ready we are to pick them up and dust them off when they fall.

So I missed my son's first step. But, when I came out into the waiting room, dejected and sad, I didn't miss him running - not walking - into Daddy's arms!

Now that would have been a momentous enough day all by itself. But more was to come to make me half wish I could keep them babies forever.
We got to the mall and my sweet little Princess asked me for earrings like Mommy. Not the clip-ons I had hoped to get away with. Not the naked baby ears I would have cherished. Nope, she wanted big girl earrings. And how can a Daddy say no. So of we went. Oh, the tears. The technician actually teared up. Princess wanted those earrings so badly that she kept asking for the next one even as she cried SO hard from the pain of the first one. My little girl is growing up so fast! She cried into my shoulder long enough to convince me I had made a mistake before suddenly cheering up and getting excited about showing all her friends her new earrings.

So now my Little Man walks and my Princess wears real jewelry. And my Sweetheart says we need to have another so we can still enjoy the baby stage. Oh my!

11 January 2012

Who I Am

I suppose I should start this little endeavor off by introducing myself and the team. I’m 39 (oh, too soon to be 40) and am a full time at home Dad. The Lord truly blessed us by turning lemons into lemonade when, after going through some trying health issues and being unable to work for an extended period, we were amazed to find that we “made” more money when I was home taking care of the little ones. My Sweetheart loves her career and did not want to be a stay at home mom, so we switched roles. We get a lot of odd looks and ignorant remarks, but the lifestyle suits us well. I head my family and my household, and my wife is able to enjoy her career without worrying about the kids.

I have two incredible children, Princess and Little Man. Princess is 3 and keeps me in a fairly constant flux of amazement and irritation. Amazement because she has a shockingly accurate memory and blows me away with her vocabulary, cognitive skills, intuition and creativity. Irritation because she is so advanced she thinks she’s 30 and doesn’t have to pay attention to mere rules and instructions. She makes sure life stays interesting. I wouldn’t trade her for the world, and if my Mama was still alive, I’d apologize for the “interesting” times I must have provided her.

Little Man is still at that stage when you feel like you can see the world from his eyes for a new perspective. It is so cool to watch him explore and figure out what things are and how they work. And fast – Lord have mercy that boy can scoot! He took his first steps two days ago, but his main form of locomotion is to grab hold of anything he can get ahold of that he can shove across the floor to maintain his balance and run.

Then there’s the Furball. I suppose you could say our 5 year old cocker spaniel was our first child. He has a nervous disposition and chews when he’s nervous. Only dog I’ve ever seen who can work the pedal on a mechanical trash can and get trash out to chew up. He’s a great guard dog though. Has an incredible bark. Scares the living daylights out the UPS guy.

My Sweetheart, well, I can’t really say enough about her. The song “She and I” comes to mind. We have our own little world, and it’s a good life.