Tag Archives: Will

When Brushing Kids Teeth Turns Into a Battle

Our favorite football team gave us reason to keep our smiles fresh

Every night at 7 pm Will and Sam brush their teeth.

This has been the routine for years, yet it seems to take them by surprise every single night. I announce it’s time to brush teeth and they glare at me with a look of affront as if I’ve just suggested something completely outrageous. And then the fight begins.

Will runs away. Sam starts crying. I grab Will and force him into the bathroom (a task which gets tougher every single day as he nears his ninth birthday), and then MJ drags a screaming Sam in as well. You’d think we were forcing them into a dungeon instead of a bathroom. Will does his best to pretend he’s brushing, and I tell him it would take him less time to actually brush efficiently than to carry out this nightly farce of faux brushing three times until we make him do it right. Sam? He just continues to scream and clench his jaws shut like a caged animal. When we do manage to get the toothbrush in there, he bites it like it’s a bone. Sometimes we need to tickle him to get him to open his mouth just for a few seconds.

But eventually we micromanage Will’s brushing and hold Sam down long enough so hopefully a few bristles hit his teeth, and then release them upstairs for bed. Another battle won in a long war that wears us down and makes no one happy.

With Christmas candy still hanging around the house and Valentine’s Day snacks sure to add to the pile of sugary sweets, it’s important to remember the other thing February is known for — National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Did you know that according to the CDC:

  • At least 20% of children ages 5-11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth
  • Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in kids age 6-11 and adolescents age 12-19

This is why we fight the battle. The people who didn’t take great care of their teeth will be the first ones to tell you they wouldn’t wish that pain and cost on anyone later in life. So to prevent that, we’re doing all we can to promote good oral hygiene in our kids and make brushing as painless as possible. That includes:

  • Letting them pick their own fun toothbrushes
  • Having them pick out their own toothpaste
  • Giving them special treats if they brush for a week with no complaining
  • Allowing them to set the timer to make sure they brush long enough
  • Let them pick their favorite songs to play during brushing
It’s all worth it to get healthy smiles like this one

Does it always work? Absolutely not. Does it incrementally improve things? Yes. And anything that makes the battle slightly easier is worth it.

We also include our 17-month-old Tommy, because in 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their oral health guidelines and said parents should begin using a smear of fluoride toothpaste at tooth eruption. If you need more information on fluoride ingredients and general use, click here.

Here are some additional quick oral health care tips for parents:

  •  Fluoride is an anti-cavity active ingredient available in over-the-counter (OTC) products that helps prevent tooth decay and cavities.
  • Children under the age of 6 should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and be supervised in order to develop good brushing and rinsing habits and to minimize product swallowing.
  • Parents and caregivers should help a child brushing his or her teeth until mastery is obtained, usually around age 8.

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are 100% my own. 

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Remembering to Taste Life

Will is berry good at stacking Very Berry Cheerios

There are silly, goofy dads. Lighthearted dads with incomparable imaginations and bubbly personalities brimming with positivity and unyielding amounts of praise and sunshine and happiness.

I’m not one of them.

Maybe it’s my gruff New England upbringing or the fact that I was raised a pessimistic Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan when the former was cursed and the latter was a joke. But the fact remains, I’m a serious dad. I demand good grades in school and 100% effort in all endeavors and for better or worse, “fun” is probably not a word my kids would associate with me.

But sometimes I wish things were different. I don’t mean changing my personality (because that’s never going to happen), but occasionally I think I need a reminder that life can be pretty sweet if you just slow down and take a taste.

I work full-time at a job I really love. I work a lot — I’m talking being out of the house at least 12 hours a day. I get up at 5:15 am, take a shower, get dressed, and take the dog for a walk. When I get back to the house, I have 20 minutes. Twenty minutes in the pre-dawn darkness to make my lunch, pour myself a bowl of cereal, and prepare for the day. But if I’m being honest, most of the time I wish that predawn stillness weren’t so still.

On my lucky days, that 20 minutes is totally interrupted. I hear the sound of footsteps on the floor upstairs, a door creaks open, and weary feet tromp down the stairs. My oldest turns the corner and gives me a half-awake smile. I grin back, get up, grab him a bowl, a spoon and some milk, and the two of us sit down wordlessly as I pour Will some Very Berry Cheerios.

And for 20 minutes, it’s just me and him. Father and son. Talking and eating some breakfast as we both get ready for the day. It might not be much, but it’s important to take what we can get and find our happiness where we can.

It’s a strange cereal for me to like, which is part of the reason I like it. Normally I’m very bland, but the explosion of berries in just about every bite makes me smile and gets me ready to face the morning. It also reminds me not everything needs to be so serious, and having breakfast with my son is a taste of life to be enjoyed. And as other, cooler dads show, these Cheerios can even be enjoyed in unorthodox places — like a movie theater.

Also, if you need your sweet moments to be gluten free, Very Berry Cheerios have that covered as well. Not to mention, they come in very handy when cheering on the best team in the NFL.

My #VeryBerry @cheerios homage to the @patriots and #tombrady. Let’s go #Patriots! #superbowl #patriotsnation

A photo posted by Aaron Gouveia (@daddyfiles) on

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Cheerios and was compensated for this campaign, but my opinions are my own.

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I’m the #KingofSoup Thanks to My Queen and Princes

Sammy making soup
Soup so simple, even a 3-year-old can make it.

If you could create your ideal steakhouse in your own kitchen, what would it look like?

That was the question posed to me by Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups, who challenged a bunch of dad bloggers to battle for the title #KingofSoup. If you know me, you know I love steakhouses, the steak steakhouses serve, and I ALWAYS get soup. In fact, soup is so important to me I once broke up with a girl in college because she insisted soup wasn’t a food. OK, that wasn’t the sole reason our relationship ended, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t play a part.

Anyway…

I love soup, especially in winter. It’s warm and comforting and informal — just how I like my restaurants. If there are peanut shells on the floor of my steakhouse, I’m a happy guy (note: my wife was NOT ok with peanut shells on the kitchen floor). So when I wondered how I could take that level of comfort and inject it into my new steakhouse kitchen, it was easy.

First of all, every king needs his queen so MJ would have to be there. Second, all steakhouses have animals hanging on the wall. Them’s the rules.

Usually it’s a bass on the wall, but clownfish & lobster work too

Next, the #KingofSoup needs the royal treatment when it comes to service. That’s why I hired my two oldest princes to serve the king and queen. From setting the table to taking our order to actually cooking the food, these guys came through in a big way and helped make our homemade steakhouse possible.

You might think amateur princely chefs look cute, but we probably gagged on the food. Well, you’re wrong. Mainly because Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups are so easy to make and taste really, really good.

All you have to do is put four cups of water in a pot, wait for it to boil, whisk in the contents of the bag, and then 5 minutes later you’re enjoying the flavorful, slow-cooked, taste of restaurant-quality potato soup right in your own home.

I went with the Loaded Potato and it was delicious. My wife likes a little more kick, so she hopped on board the Three Cheese Chipotle train. But whether you choose those two, Creamy Potato, or the Cheddar Broccoli flavor varieties, it’s guaranteed your soup will be filled with real Idaho® red potatoes and red potato skins, delivering exceptional taste and texture in every spoonful.

I ended up wearing my PJs and comfy slippers to my in-home steakhouse, meaning I literally applied the comfort of my castle to my newly refurbished kitchen. Just call me Elvis, because clearly I’m the King (of soup).

Don’t believe me? Check out this ridiculously cute behind the scenes video taken in my new steakhouse.

Want to bring some deliciousness to your kingdom by trying some Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups? Here’s all the info you need:

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods and received compensation for this campaign, but my opinions are my own.

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Don’t Be a Dick

dont-be-a-dick

“Dad, what do we do now?”

That was the most pressing question my 8-year-old asked me in the wake of Trumpageddon. I was focusing on how did we get here, what went wrong, and how the hell can people be this stupid? But, as usual, my oldest son directed my attention to what’s really important — the “what now?”

You see, I spent most of this election telling my son Trump wouldn’t win. I told him that because I believed in this country’s common sense and ability to sniff out an obvious con-man who threatened the very foundation upon which the United States is built. I told him bullies don’t win in the end.

But the bully did win. Ignorance, hate, and divisiveness won. There’s nothing I can do about that now, so where do we go from here and how did I answer my son’s question? After some contemplation, I looked him straight in the eye and said the following:

“Just don’t be a dick.”

I didn’t make that up, I stole it from my friend Oren Miller. It was his one guiding principle when he started a dad blogger Facebook group that has swelled to more than 1,200 members. Cancer took him from us in 2015 but his painful absence doesn’t make the advice any less pertinent. Especially now.

Unfortunately the election is lost. Donald Trump will be our next President of the United State for at least four years. A lot of us don’t like it, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. However, not being a dick is a great way to do our part to combat the dickishness in which our country is currently awash.

I told Will if he sees or hears bullies at school trashing people (especially minorities), step in and help. Because not taking action is still being a dick, and defending classmates lets them know they’re not alone.

Stumble upon some lily white morons telling kids who look different from them to go back where they came from? Breathing a sigh of relief just because they’re not picking on you is still being a dick, so put yourself in between the bullies and the bullied. I told Will as a white male, he’s got an easier time than most so he needs to make sure he’s got some skin in the game, because discrimination is never acceptable.

Hear someone telling a female classmate she can’t participate in something like science or sports just because she’s a girl? Don’t be a dick — shut that shit down immediately. Many women had hammers in hand to finally break through that glass ceiling, only to have the rug pulled out from under them at the eleventh hour. But this is not their fight, it’s our fight. All of us. You don’t need to rescue damsels in distress, you just need to stand up for what’s right and help your fellow people.

Don’t be a dick about refugees. The vast majority of refugees are not terrorists and are simply trying to keep their families alive. If that were me, I’d break every immigration rule possible if it meant keeping my family safe from the bombs raining down on them. Be empathetic and tell those who would rather build walls and deny entrance to our country based on religious discrimination that you’re not going to put up with that crap. I guarantee others will follow your lead.

Gay people just got the right to marry who they want, but now they’re facing an administration that openly hates them and is threatening to nominate Supreme Court judges who could potentially delegitimize their families. So don’t be a dick by calling people “faggots” and don’t let other people get away with slurs. You’ll be surrounded by kids who are gay but too afraid to come out, and even if they never thank you personally for standing up for them in public, they’ll feel less alone because you did. You never know what’s going to save someone from going over the edge, so be a stand-up guy instead of a dick.

And lastly, don’t listen to the people who will claim YOU are being a dick by speaking out against others. There’s a difference between basic political disagreements and standing up against racists, misogynists, and xenophobes. Trump is in the latter category and his supporters condoned those things by voting for him. Will, you can never be too intolerant of intolerance, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

This is a dark time, my boy. It’s also an exceedingly dangerous time because standards of decency are shifting. What should be unacceptable is now presidential, and normalizing our most fanatical and awful behaviors leads to the erosion of all things good and just. So don’t fall into that basket of deplorables.

Don’t be a dick, even if we just elected one.

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Now I Know Why They Call Them Rescue Dogs

Haley enjoying Cahoon Hollow Beach on Cape Cod
Haley enjoying Cahoon Hollow Beach on Cape Cod

My dog died yesterday.

It was expected because she was old and in declining health, but unexpected in that she died after being hit by a car. In full view of the kids. The end result of a still mischievous but half blind/deaf dog taking advantage of a door that didn’t quite latch.

I was on the train home from Boston when I got the call, and I immediately broke down in tears. Which is fitting, perhaps, since sadness is what led me to her in the first place.

It was 2007. I was a newlywed living on Cape Cod and working as a journalist. An investigative piece I was working on led to the revelation of some pretty severe canine abuse, and I was so disturbed by what I saw that I began volunteering at the local dog shelter.

But my disgust at the mistreatment of those dogs wasn’t the only reason I was there.

Despite having a job I liked and marrying the woman of my dreams, things had turned fairly nightmarish in a hurry. MJ was in the middle of a downward spiral we’d later find out was bipolar disease. Her manic periods had given way to crippling bouts of depression, and she had no love for herself never mind any to give to me. She was sad all the time and talked constantly of running away and never coming back. I would tell her how much I loved her, but that just seemed to make her feel guilty and she shut down.

But the dogs at the shelter were always happy to see me and pummel me with affection. That’s literally what happened the first time I saw Haley — she ran around the counter, jumped up, and hit me right in the balls.

And then she captured my heart.

Haley was brought to the shelter by a wife whose husband thought a dog would save their marriage. It didn’t. As a result, poor Haley was put on a kennel run and largely ignored for 14 hours a day. And because she loved people but was around them so little, she craved attention and closeness. She also thought any time you left the room you were never coming back, so when you did she was so happy she could barely contain herself.

She had endless affection and devotion to give, and I had a limitless need for love and companionship. The only problem? Convincing MJ.

You see, she was fairly open to the idea of a dog but she had conditions:

  1. No dogs over 50 lbs
  2. No ridiculously excitable dogs
  3. No dogs with long hair

Haley was 0 for 3. But I knew in my heart she was the one, so I made one of the only unilateral, executive decisions I’ve ever made in my marriage — I signed up to temporarily foster her. My wife was FURIOUS when I came with a 75-pound ball of excitable, long-haired, slobbery love. But that fury soon gave way to having her heart melted by our sweet girl, and then “temporary” home turned to “permanent” in a matter of days.

haley-002I bought Haley the most expensive dog bed I could find, and then let it go completely unused because she cuddled right next to me on the bed every night. We went everywhere together and walked the Cape Cod Canal, hiked local trails, and went for runs. She was a retriever in name only because she never fetched a damn thing in her life, but she was a slobbering pile of unadulterated love and I loved her right back.

She was a total beta, but if she heard a noise or thought an intruder was present, watch the hell out — her growl was deep and fierce and scared off at least one lurker I can remember. But I didn’t want an attack dog, because we wanted a pup who’d be great with kids — and Haley delivered.

WillHaley_frontHaley was so gentle with kids, even when they climbed on her, pulled her ears, and stepped on her. She really bonded with Will and she was his “sister” for 5.5 years before Sam came along. When we’d practice sharing, Will would have to share with Haley and I’ll never forget how cute the two of them would be, staring out the window every day that I got home from work.

With Sam it was a little different. The two of them got along well enough, but it was always a tempered and grudging respect. Neither of them fully embraced the other, and there was much jockeying for position in the household hierarchy.

haleytommyBut Tommy? I’m not sure what it was about Tommy, but Haley loved him immediately — and vice versa. Tommy’s favorite thing to do is crawl/walk over to Haley and place his cheek gently on her head. I don’t blame him, Haley’s ear are wonderfully soft velvet. When she slept at the foot of the bed, my toes would search for those ears and I’d immediately sleep more soundly and with much comfort.

Comfort. That’s going to be my one biggest regret — that I couldn’t comfort her at the end and pay her back for the massive amount of comfort she brought to me in the nearly 10-year long span we were together.

I knew she was at the end of the road. Her health was terrible, she had tumors everywhere, she could barely stand, she couldn’t navigate stairs, she had lost control of her bladder, and the sound she made while breathing was terrible. We were in the midst of making arrangements to put her down when this happened, I just…well, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Even last night, as my shovel dug a hole through roots and rocks in my parents’ yard where she loved to play, I couldn’t let go. I carried her from the car, wrapped her in her favorite soft blanket, and cried. I sat there for 30 minutes next to her grave, in the dark and the rain, with her head cradled in my arms, because not being able to feel the comfort of those velvety ears seems unimaginable to me. So I kept taking a few more minutes. Just a little more time. One more scratch behind the ear.

We might have given her a good life, but as corny as it sounds, the rescue rescued me. The dog who lavished us with love, slobbered sentiment all over us, and made our home a better place.

What started with her hitting me right in the nuts ended with the gut punch of loss. But in between are countless moments of comfort and peace dogs seem to bestow upon us so effortlessly, yet we take them for granted time and time again. For nearly 10 years she filled our lives with life and love and tons of slobber, and her only goal in life was to be near her people. Actual people live much longer lives and never approach a more noble and meaningful existence.

haleypregoI preferred Haley’s company to that of most people, and I’ll miss her as I would a friend. I’ll miss her frenzied and joyful leaps when I walked in the door, even if I was only gone 30 seconds. I’ll miss her ninja-like maneuvering for food, even at the end when she could barely move. I’ll miss the feel of her fur pressed against my face when I needed comfort I couldn’t find anywhere else. I’ll miss her gentleness with the kids. And I’ll never forget her constant vigilance when MJ was pregnant — resting her head on her belly, and knowing when she was going into labor even before MJ did.

We gave Haley a soft bed, lots of food, and a warm home. She gave us a decade of life, love, and unlimited slobbery kisses. We got the better end of that deal.

Dog owners, give your pups an extra squeeze today. And if you’re thinking about getting a rescue, just realize you’ll probably be the one who ends up getting saved, not the other way around.

Thanks for saving me, sweet girl.

haleyfloor

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