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“Where Ya Been…”
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Brody

Sooo, I said that I would explain where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing… essentially what’s going on in the life and world of Scott.  There really isn’t a good excuse.  I’ve been trying my best to be a father of two boys, which is essentially it.  Juggling both kids, my family, and a job got the best of me for a bit; with regards to my discipline to blog weekly and well, it got away from me.  Think of it like this, you have been exercising for weeks now, and then all of a sudden you stop for a bit, and then you are totally out of it….  That is kind of it in a nut shell; but no excuses!

Colby will be 2 years old now on Sept 2, which is just around the corner; and Brody is now 3 months old.  Since my last posted (not including the recent one from the other day), I have had another baby boy.  We named him Brody and he was (is) huge!  When he was born, (natural delivery I might add) he was 10 pounds, 8 ounces and 22 & 3/4 inches long!  He was a huge baby!  Colby at the time of his birth was only 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 21 & 1/2 inches long.  So Brody was considerable bigger than Colby.

While he was very large, the birth and delivery was a lot easier than the first birth (Colby).  With Colby, we were scheduled to come to the hospital at 6 am and he was delivered at 7:20 pm.  We had started to push at about 4:30 pm, so it took a lot of my wife’s pushing over a while for him to come out.  With Brody, we were scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 6 am and he was delivered at 10:55 am.  Considerably less time pushing and waiting; as a matter of fact, there was only a few pushes and then he came right out!  So there’s the short and brief version of where I’ve been, and of Brody’s birth!

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My So Called Over-Complicated Life
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I ran a mile and half today and it felt great. I haven’t run in over a year. In reality, with the exception of a few weeks of poorly training for a Muddy Buddy bike/run event that I did with my best friend a little over a year ago, it’s actually been many years since I’ve hit the pavement. And the funny thing is, that as enjoyable as the run was, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it again. Or maybe that’s more of a sad thing. And it’s essentially because I have no time. One of my good friends told me on several occasions that I needlessly complicate my life. He’s right.

I have a few traits that contribute to this phenomenon of self-complicating one’s life. First, I feel like my weekends are longer if I do something on Friday nights, so I generally like to plan something for those evenings. Second, my free time (like most people) primarily exists during the weekends, so my wife and I manage to schedule all the tedious tasks during that timeframe. Thirdly, I know my free time is limited, so I feel like I need to cram in visits from close friends and family in-between my many tasks. Factor in that I’m a father of two who works an average of 50-hours each week, that we just bought a house which needs lots of attention, and that I then try to relieve my wife by tending to our children when I can… and, well, you can see where this is going.

And I simply continue to pile it on. I try to plan date-nights, man-dates, visits to friends and family who have new arrivals. We have several weddings coming up, a baby shower, I want to visit my and my parent’s home towns up north, and my wife and I want to go to her mom’s house in Texas for Christmas. We had wanted to go to Greece in the next year or so, and can’t wait to get back to Paris so we can continue to explore Europe … but realistically, I’m not sure when we’ll ever finally work in those kinds of vacations. I mean, how much of what we have to do (not counting the dream vacations) will actually even happen … probably less than half. We’d be lucky if we get a third accomplished in the next two years, if they could all be spanned out that far. And I’m guessing it’ll be closer to five years before we start considering those dream vacations.

One of my closest cousins lives only an hour and a half away and I’ve not been able to visit him since before his wife was pregnant. They celebrated their daughter’s one year birthday a few months ago. And yet, none of that seems to stop me from wanting to do things like volunteer to help my old condo’s Budget Committee. I invested so much time in the Budget Committee the year before, and we made excellent progress. But it was the first of a series of steps that would need to occur over the course of a few years. And so I feel like I have an obligation to see it through. And yet, realistically, there is no time for it.

It’s almost like this is some form of masochism, except my vehicle for pain is stress; And I really don’t get off on being stressed, but I can’t seem to turn away from it and continue to want to do more; But now this stress is starting to wear me down; Not only me, but my family too. And I’ve got to stop, but I don’t know how … so I write instead … which, of course, is something else I enjoy doing, but have not time for.

But why do these things? I guess that’s the big question. Well, because they make me feel good. Because I feel needed. Because I feel like I’m contributing to some greater good. And maybe even just because I want to, and sometimes it’s just nice to do something I want to do instead of the many things I feel I have to do. This brings a song to mind. The chorus goes “You can’t always get what you want.” That’s right, “You can’t always get what you want…” which is how I feel. But is that really fair? I mean, sometimes some of the things you want end up being something that you need. I know I can’t give any justice to explaining it. But sometimes one just needs to do something to feel whole or feel like they contribute to more than just themselves or their family. I recall a little more to that song, “But if you try some time, you just might find… You get what you need.” And so I’m trying. Trying to run, trying to write, but probably not trying to participate in the Budget Committee. As much as I feel like I need to help them, I gave them a good enough start last year to keep the ball rolling. And in the end I do need to have some checks and balances. Hmmm… could this be a breakthrough. I may actually make it my cousins in the next year. Who knows, maybe I will even make it to Greece in the next year or so. Nah, who am I kidding.

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Fathers for our Brides
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Albin Polasek Museum—currently host to a playful 1950s underwater photography exhibit taken in Florida’s Silver Springs—has a beautiful Sculpture Garden which served as the venue for my sister’s wedding this past Saturday on March 5th. Amidst the vibrant flowers and remarkable sculptures, I took video of a bride’s procession, accompanied by a string duo, to her friend and now husband. And I watched in awe as his unwavering vows to my sister overcame the blaring air siren (testing for tornado warnings?), thunderous low flying jets, and obnoxious boats looking on from the neighboring lake. And what was an otherwise beautiful ceremony, will no doubt be a memorable experience in their prosperous marriage as resounding applauds followed his performance.

This momentous occasion was also marked as the official debut of our new daughter amongst my family at large. As many parents of newborns observe, my wife and I kept our preemie daughter close to home for the first two months of her life. Born five weeks early, her progress was monitored by our Pediatrician who stated our daughter officially caught up developmentally at her two-month visit. And it was at this point that she was cleared for general exposure to large crowds. Not to say that our daughter had any complications or couldn’t leave our home and be around throngs of people, but it was in her best interest to minimize risk since she was more susceptible to contagions as a preemie. And being that my father is one of six children, our gatherings tend to be quite a crowd.

Now my wife Megan is a planner. And even though she carefully timed the feedings, our daughter determined that she would not only be hungry just before the ceremony, but inconsolable for a time after her feeding. So Megan unfortunately distanced herself from the ceremony to prevent a crying baby from interrupting it, unknowing that other events would inevitably perform the same task. At least with my videoing the wedding, she was able to later enjoy watching it; although that’s not always quite the same.

But what was most interesting to me was what I noticed during the reception following the ceremony. Like many wedding receptions, we had our cast of friends and relatives that clumped around tables and loosely mingled with new faces of extended family that they scarcely recognized. There were the unexpected visiting cousins, the dedicated aunt traveling across the country, and the otherwise reclusive family members. And yet, the general theme I noticed about the families of newborns and toddlers was the role of the dedicated fathers for their committed brides. These men (myself included) held their children, chased after them, and attended to their needs much to the relief of their wives. It was clearly the mom’s day off, or at least the best attempt of it that we could muster under the circumstances. I know my own wife sometimes considers my involvement with the kids a blessing since there are many men who shy away from taking part with their children, especially during their early years. But this undoubtedly was a testament, at least of the men in attendance at my sister’s wedding, that we are indeed doing our part and being involved as fathers for our brides.

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To Spank or Not To Spank
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As of late, the topic of spanking a toddler as a disciplining measure has begun to weigh heavily on my mind. A common phrase we’ve all grown up around is, “spare the rod and spoil the child.” But what constitutes a rod in this modern age? Have we progressed so far as humans that we should be capable to discipline purely by intellect alone, using psychological methods such as time-out, reward/praise, selective ignoring, providing consequences, or withdrawing privileges? Is using Pavlov’s theory of association with a loud clap or slight sting of the hand on a child’s thigh antiquated for toddler discipline? What if all the psychological methods don’t seem to be enough for a resolute tantrum?

In my own practice, I’ve determined to keep my hand out of the discipline—literally. Not to say I won’t spank, but I want to save that as a last resort upon the failing of all other practices. Although I fear that the time is drawing near; especially with my son’s most recent unyielding bursts of dissatisfaction from being disciplined. He seemed to almost work his self into hysteria with practically-hyperventilated cries of, “I want to get up.” I was able to sooth him by continuing the time-out punishment in my bed where I laid quietly holding him until he was calm and responsive. Of course, his requests still continued, but then in a normal, soft speaking voice. I then reasoned with him that his need for discipline was due to his own behavior and that he had to stay a few calm minutes in time-out before he could get up. But was this the best course of action, or could a slight sting have facilitated a similar result?

I believe it’s true that a toddler needs rigid boundaries and consistent discipline. I’ve even discussed in previous posts how I can see in my own son’s development his need to communicate and express his self. They naturally need limited choices and routine schedules to give them a sense of independence and structure. Not to say they won’t test those boundaries. I think sometimes they crave a parent’s attention so much, that they’ll even look for it in discipline; if that’s what it takes. We all want to be recognized and feel important, or at least know that someone is willing to make some kind of fuss over us—even if it’s negative.

In time I may find a need to squelch inappropriate behavior with a spank. I’ve spoken to other parents who have successfully curved similar behavior with a slight sting to the thigh; of course, never in anger. It’s apparent that their toddler still loves them and there is no shying away from the parents hand—their disciplining tool. Since each child is their own person and does react differently to the various disciplining methods, I’d have to determine how my son responds and if it is the appropriate method to use in extreme conditions. I think we can all agree we don’t want to spoil our children.

Whichever method you choose to use, I think the important thing to remember is to never do it out of anger. Every kid can frustrate the most patient of parents. When disciplining, may have to give yourself and your child time. Maybe take five minutes to cool down. Tag in another parent or trusted friend to allow you time to get in the right frame of mind. They’re only trying to communicate and want attention to get their point across any way they know how. Use your praise to show them which ways are acceptable, and your discipline to show which are inappropriate.

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Colby’s 4 months growth
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Colby’s 4 months growth!

My son, Colby, is just growing and growing!  Not so much, in the physical sense, I’m talking about the progression of his mental and emotional growth.  He is now, eating rice cereal from a bowl!!!

Yes, we are mixing a batch of this rice cereal for him, with formula, which he is eating twice and day.  And he is even eating this with a spoon!  Starting next week, he will have it three times a day.  It will be a breakfast, lunch, and dinner type of schedule with bottled formula in between rice cereal feedings.  So, his progress from just bottled formula to now eating rice cereal from a bowl with a spoon is definite advancement. 

Next, he is now able to reach the floor while he is in his walker, and is able to move a bit in it.  He has not quite figured out the whole moving forward, but he is able to move backwards and side to side.

And lastly, he is holding his head up with no problems, turning to hear voices, and learning to roll over.  It is all very exciting.  His four months growth is right on track or above, which makes this daddy very happy!

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