There’s No Such Thing as Taking Too Many Pictures of Your Kids

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“Put the phone down.”
“You’re taking too many pictures of your kids.”
“Your eyes are the best camera.”

If you’re a parent with Internet access of any kind, you know how controversial a topic phones are in relation to your children. You can’t whip out a soon-to-be-outdated phablet without hitting some parenting “expert” or “guru” telling you what a materialistic and superficial jerk you are for posing your kids in a pumpkin patch or posting a selfie with the kids to Instagram during Touch-a-Truck.

I’m pretty confident in my parenting, but after reading so many of these articles talking about how I’m not actually enjoying life because I’m living it through my cell phone camera lens, I started to worry maybe they were right.

So one day I left the camera in the car.

I took Will and Sam on a hike through some local conservation land, and it was gorgeous. It was hot out, but felt 10 degrees cooler when we entered the forest and walked beneath the canopy of towering maple trees. The pine needles padded our steps and my boys bounded forward with youthful zeal, as slits of sunlight periodically found them and dotted their backs.

We explored the forest and inspected downed trees while wondering if a giant blew them over in a fit. We climbed rock formations and claimed them as newly discovered lands (Willtopia, SamLand, and Dada’s Village if you must know). We ran to the next trail map and studied it forcefully, as if it alone held the key to our ultimate survival.

And then we saw the butterfly.

A Monarch butterfly, you know the type. Wings a deep Halloween orange with jet black lines that made it look like an ornate stained glass window. Little white circles dot the tips of the wings and its head, as it rests on some grass seemingly weightless. It was totally still, and so were my boys. Enraptured. Until…

“Dada,” Sam whispered excitedly. “Take picture of butterfly!”

Crap.

“Sammy, I can’t. I didn’t bring my phone with me,” I said with fear rising in my throat. “But that’s OK, wanna know why? Because we have something better than a camera — our eyes. Let’s look at the butterfly and study it really hard, and we’ll take a mental snapshot so we’ll always have the butterfly in our memory.”

I even did that thing where you make a camera out of your hands, hold it up to your eye and snap a “mental picture.” And I immediately recoiled in horror and felt an unyielding desire to kick my own ass.

He knew it was bullshit. I knew it was bullshit. Sam flipped out and started crying, because — well, that’s what almost 3-year-olds do. The unphotographed butterfly must have also sensed the bullshit level rise to dangerous levels, and with his moment of zen interrupted by shrieking, flew off for parts unknown.

In a desperate attempt to stop Sam’s meltdown, Will had a phenomenal idea. He reminded Sam about our geocaching adventures, and started talking about finding hidden treasure. This idea pleased Sam greatly as his sobs subsided and excitement took over as both boys turned to me for the coordinates to our next find.

Coordinates I didn’t have, because I didn’t have my phone with me.

Taking an excessive amount of pictures of your children and adventures is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing. Committing things to memory and looking at the world absent a lens is overrated garbage, mainly because 1) taking pictures doesn’t always take you out of the moment, and 2) my memory sucks.

I’m a working dad. I’m up at 5:30 am, I work all day, I come home to parent, I do some more work, I go to bed. My mind is a ball of mush. It takes me at least two tries to get my kids’ names right, I poured my beer into a sippy cup last week, and the only things I truly remember are random ’90s song lyrics. So while it’s a noble thing to live in the moment and try to commit to memory the look on my sons’ faces when faced with the unparalleled wonder of a Monarch butterfly, I’d rather have my camera so I can have it forever and share it with the people I love who weren’t there.

Cell phone cameras are incredible and allow me to relive moments from years ago whenever I want. You’d be surprised how much I revisit them, especially now with Facebook’s “On This Day” feature that allows you to relive memories from years ago.

Excess can be a real problem in so many areas, but when it comes to pictures of the people and places I love most, there’s no such thing as too much. So have fun being “in the moment” and thinking you’re superior because you left your cell phone in the car. I’ll be busy happily recording memories and avoiding toddler meltdowns.

Just think, if I listened to the know-it-alls and didn’t have my phone with me, I’d miss moments like this.

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What Kind of Parent Attacks a Grieving Mother? Donald Trump

I have to believe losing a child is one of the most horrible things a human being can experience. It is something so fundamentally unspeakable as to be feared by all parents, and when it happens there is nothing but universal sympathy and empathy from anyone who has ever cared for a child as their own.

Except for Donald Trump, it seems.

Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week, criticizing Trump for his call to ban Muslims from entering the country. That’s because their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq and protecting his fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber. They had some harsh words for Trump, and offered the Republican presidential nominee a copy of the U.S. Constitution for him to read.

But instead of ignoring them or offering his sympathies and reiterating the party line about how he’s still the best choice compared to Hillary Clinton, Trump went on the war path. He decided the best defense is an overly aggressive offense, so he put two grieving parents in his crosshairs and said this:

“She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me. But a plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet, and it looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that.”

The message is undeniably clear — Donald Trump believes Ghazala Khan was forced into a position of subservience because she and her husband are Muslim. So, while being criticized for being anti-Muslim, Trump decided his best course of action was doubling down and taking ANOTHER shot at Muslims by suggesting the grieving mother of a fallen U.S. war hero was being intimidated by her husband and not allowed to speak.

Nevermind the fact that she has spoken out in the past (and would do so again after the fact), there is something much more despicable and troubling at work here.

Donald Trump is a father of five children. He is no stranger to parenthood and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. Yet despite sharing that common bond with the Khans, Trump made the decision to berate and belittle two parents whose son sacrificed his life for his country. I repeat, Trump, a man who hopes to one day command soldiers, doesn’t have enough respect and consideration for Gold Star parents to stop himself from lashing out and attacking them.

There is something wrong with Donald Trump. There is something wrong with any parent who can’t conjure up enough sympathy and respect for parents who have had to bury a child.

Don’t tell me this isn’t about parenting and don’t tell me I shouldn’t discuss politics on a page largely devoted to parenting issues. This is the presidential election and EVERYTHING relates back to parenting. The person we vote for will shape the world in which we live for at least the next four years. He/She will likely nominate multiple U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

It is not acceptable to attack our Gold Star parents. Just like it’s ridiculous to attack POWs who endured a hell I can’t possibly imagine while being held captive. Yet that’s where we’re at with Donald Trump.

Politics has always been nasty, but Trump has navigated us to uncharted waters. He has no empathy or sense of compassion. He thinks only of himself and is so thin-skinned he feels the need to fire back at all of his detractors. Women who disagree with him are “fat pigs,” media outlets who criticize him using his own statements and verifiable facts are banned from covering his campaign, and now Gold Star parents are apparently in play for Trump. Sen. John McCain, Speaker Paul Ryan, and even the VFW have publicly stated how horrified they are by Trump’s actions, yet Trump is undeterred and totally willing to say anything about anyone at any time.

This isn’t fighting against political correctness. There’s nothing correct about what Trump is doing by removing the last vestiges of civility from politics. This is about a lack of humanity and an inability to empathize with anyone who has a dissenting opinion. It’s an indicator of how things will work if (deity of your choosing forbid) Trump becomes President Trump. It’s disgusting and dangerous and wrong.

And it’s beneath us as Americans.

Seriously, folks. What Trump is doing and saying isn’t worthy of this country or the office he’s trying so desperately to occupy. If you’re a parent and you’re OK with the way Donald Trump has acted toward the Khans, then seek help. Immediately. Because you are broken.

When the face of the Republican party can’t even find common ground with other parents who are mourning dead children, there’s a problem. We have a problem. Let’s make sure we don’t put the problem in the Oval Office.

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My Son Learned It On Netflix

Home- Adventures with Tip & Oh

I don’t think TV should be a child’s only teacher. But the fact remains, there are some damn good shows out there that have taught my 8-year-old a lot.

This isn’t a license for you to plop your kid down in the living room and let your TV do all of your parenting tasks for you. But it is an acknowledgement that a lot of the shows you can find on Netflix are really fantastic for teaching facts, history, science, and some really important lessons about life, love, friendship, and morality.

I sat down with my 8-year-old son, Will, and interviewed him about some of the shows on Netflix that have taught him valuable lessons. Here’s the scoop, right from the mouths of babes.

4. DinoTrux
This show isn’t just an entertaining romp through a made up world of prehistoric vehicles and creatures, it’s filled with valuable lessons about teamwork and getting along.

Will says: “The T-trux and the Reptools didn’t like each other at first, but that’s because they didn’t talk to each other. They learned to always work together when they had a problem, because you friends can have really good ideas you didn’t think of.”

3. Home
Adults know this movie (which was turned into a subsequent Netflix Original series) as the alien with Sheldon Cooper’s voice. But kids actually took some valuable lessons from the adventures of Oh and Tip.

Will says: “It taught me to never give up on my dreams, even when there’s a lot of trouble. Oh and Tip were looking for Tip’s mom and they never gave up even though it seemed impossible.”

2. Charlotte’s Web
A timeless classic I watched as a kid, that is apparently still just as relevant today. My son had a simple yet poignant reaction.

Will says: “Always be kind to your friends.”

1. Sofia the First
Despite initially battling the stigma of Sofia being a “show for girls,” Will really grew to like this one. And so did I, because I love how Sofia battles with coming into money and privilege while trying to stay true to who she really is and her roots.

Will says: “Just because you’re royalty doesn’t mean you can stop being nice. You should always be kind to other people even if you’re rich.”

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I was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and a smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. 

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Santander Soccer Scholars Make Soccer Bearable

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If you’ve been following this page for any amount of time, you know I’m not exactly a soccer fan. And if you’re new here, well — I’m not a soccer fan. But you know what I am a fan of? Corporate social responsibility and my family having a great time.

My family was invited to Gillette Stadium to watch the New England Revolution play the Columbus Crew, to promote Santander Bank’s Soccer Scholars program. And my family was able to enjoy a game from the Santander luxury box as well as being on the field prior to the start of the game.

It was pretty awesome.

But despite the unbelievable views, field access, and delicious pizza while beings sheltered from the rain during the game, the best part was joining up with such a great program.

Soccer Scholars is for kids age 6-17, who strive to excel both on the field and in the classroom. Parents, friend, and family members can nominate students now through October 13 by clicking here, and possibly winning great prizes like:

  • $500 to be put toward future education
  • Four free tickets to a Revolution home game
  • A chance to meet Revs star forward Charlie Davies
  • Field access prior to the game as the Revolution takes the field
  • A chance at the grand prize – having Charlie Davies visit the student’s school

Trust me, you should enter. If my kids are evidence of anything, it’s that they had a great time watching the game in a suite, seeing the players up close, and even meeting Slyde, the Revs mascot.

Before the game, it was amazing to come out of the tunnel and have the Gillette Stadium field open up in front of you. Naturally, my kids get access to professional athletes and the opportunity to marvel at their skills from feet away, and neither of them had much interest.

Sam was impressed with the rubber pellets that make up the turf.

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Will, on the other hand, just wanted to dance.

It was a really great time, the Revolution won 3-1, and a whole bunch of area bloggers got to support a great local company actively improving the community. And that’s the real goal.

That and getting on the Gillette Stadium JumboTron.

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Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post and received free game tickets courtesy of Santander Bank

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Where Have You Done It?

It’s tough to do it after you have kids.

You know how it is, right? Before kids, MJ and I did it all the time. Constantly. We couldn’t get enough and we’d spend all night doing it. In our bed, on the couch — didn’t matter. We did it and we didn’t care who else saw.

But now that we have three boys, it’s not so simple.

First of all, we don’t do it together nearly as often. It seems there’s always a kid around who needs attention, so getting on the same page to do it is nearly impossible. Also, and this is tough to admit, but we just don’t seem to share the same preferences. MJ likes romance but I like action because I want to get right to it. I know she likes to take her time and relax, but I like to do it in short bursts. Sometimes I need a snack or a bathroom break in between doing it, but I’m usually pretty good about getting right back on the horse.

Lately though, MJ hasn’t really wanted to do it. Which means, well, I’ve started to do it alone.

I felt really bad about that at first. After all, we did it together for so long and it was great. I very much prefer doing it with her, but if I have to choose between doing it alone or not doing it at all — I’m going to choose to go solo. And if I’m being honest, sometimes that’s nice. All alone, late at night, lights off and everyone else sleeping. After a few touches it suddenly comes to life and BOOM — I’m revved up and in business.

But there’s a certain amount of shame involved, no question.

Sometimes I’ll hear MJ or the kids stirring while I’m right in the middle of doing it, and I panic. I never want to stop doing it after I’ve started, so I’ll get up and go somewhere else. Yeah, I know. Sick, right? I’ve done it in the bathroom. In the kitchen. In the closet. One time I did it outside and the neighbors were none too pleased. Hell, sometimes I find a way to do it on the train, which is tough with all those people around let me tell you. Another time, Will caught me while I was in the middle of doing it. That was a tough one to explain.

But hey, I’ll do what it takes to make sure I can do it until I reach completion. Otherwise I’ll be totally unsatisfied and grumpy.

Yup. Watching Netflix sure can be tough after you have kids.

The Netflix Sneak

Hey everyone, don’t forget the newest season of Orange is the New Black has dropped and is ready for binge-watching!

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***I received free Netflix for a year and SmartTV for joining the #StreamTeam and writing a monthly Netflix post.

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