Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chunkey Monkey has her first tooth...

Let them eat cake...

While this phrase is often attributed to the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, there is no evidence to support that she ever uttered this phrase (and that concludes today's history lesson).
One of the most creative gifts we received at one of our showers was a three-tiered cake made out of diapers. So, I think I surprised some of my coworkers when I said I was making a Diaper cake for a co-workers shower, and didn't show up with a real cake (lol).
I found the "How to make a diaper cake" video here: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/876435/how_to_make_a_diaper_cake/
In addition to diapers, I added a white and pink baby bibs and baby onesies. While my cake wasn't a perfectly straight as the one in the video, it did look better than the version I have posted above. During my commute into the office, it slid off of the cake base (whaaaa!!!).
It ended up more like a mad hatter diaper cake... I guess it was the thought that counts, right?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sleep Tight Little Angel...

We were at a loss for words.

Our hearts go out to Jenn, my co-worker, and her family as they mourn - and celebrate - the life of their precious Anna Maxine.
While many of us in the ACS haven't had the opportunity to meet little Anna, it didn't stop the flood of emotions from pouring when we first received Jenn's message. Across the office was a synchronized gasp, followed by tears, and doors closing so we could each have our own moment of silence and seek comfort in prayer for their family.
Reading the wonderful tribute that was written, we were touched at the amount of love their family has shown their angel during her brief time here on earth, and moved by how they spent their final moments with her and how they have had to share the news with Anna's brother and sister.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to you...
Paul, Christopher and Kensington
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Psalm 23

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bio-Family Reunion (Day 2 of 3)

It’s the crack of dawn. It feels like I’ve only had about three hours of sleep when a rooster crowing awakens me. What the…? I open my eyes and the room is so bright I think that has to be around 9am. There goes breakfast. Annie’s note on the door said it would be ready at 8:30, and with having to be at the picnic at 10, there would be no way we could get ready, eat breakfast and be out of the B&B in an hour. My blackberry is dead so I can’t access the clock so I reach for Chris’ iPhone. It’s only 5 o’clock. The rooster is still crowing. Loudly. It’s going to wake everyone in the house. I start shhh’ing. It doesn’t care that I want it to be quite. It just keeps crowing and crowing. Does it understand what we went through the night before? Does it know what awaits us today and that we need some sleep? Does it understand that the more it crows, the more upset people will be in the house? It doesn’t care. And why doesn’t it care? Because she got plenty of sleep the night before as we traveled from PA to VT. That rooster crowing was our very own Kensington Grace. Up at five in the morning and refusing to go back to sleep. She’s looking up at me every time I look down at her, with a huge smile on her face. How can you be mad… even this early in the morning?

I take her out of her temporary crib and starting walking around the bear room with her. After about 9-10 minutes of this, it seems like she’s ready to go back to sleep. I put her down and as soon as my head hits the pillow, Cock-a-doodle-do. [Okay. It really sounded more like blah blah blahhh blah bla.]

I break out the pacifier hoping it would helps. Nope. I make her a bottle even though the sound isn’t her hungry sound. This early in the morning, I would try anything.

The bottle goes down with ease (like always), and I do a quick diaper change. Okay… let’s try this again. I put her back down in the crib and creep back into bed. A tiny Cock-a-doodle-do comes out. Followed by a louder version. Then a couple raspberries. And some laughing. Okay – I’m up, I’m up. And now, so is Chris. We have her on the bed playing with her so her vocal level would stay at a low tone. A few moments later we hear someone downstairs. Ohhh… Kensi, you’re in trouble :)

One thing we forgot to mention… the Bear Room doesn’t have a door on it. It’s upstairs above the kitchen, but the way the house peaks, there isn’t room for a door. There is a screen, and we have complete privacy, but a door would buffer the sound that little miss rooster is making. Because it was so late when we came in, we didn’t get a ‘lay of the land’, so we have no clue how close the other couples are to our room - hence the need for silence. The front door opens and we see someone heading out across the property. It must be Annie. She’s headed out to the barn to feed the horses. I run downstairs to see if coffee is brewing. No such luck. I wash out Kensi’s bottle and then head back upstairs to the cave.

I decide to occupy Kensi while Chris takes a shower and gets ready. I swear he takes his time. Oh… the eye. I forgot all about the eye. That’s why he’s in there so long. Chris comes out and it looks much better. It’s still a little swollen, but its open and he can see out of it. We’ll leave a little early and stop by a pharmacy.

It’s my turn to get ready and Chris heads downstairs with Kensington. He meets Annie and Walt and recaps our adventures the night before. I can hear her laughing in the kitchen so I head down (praying that coffee would be ready). “Juice? I have cranberry, apple, orange”. I go for the cranberry. “Do you want anything with it?”. “After last night, a little Grey Goose would be great”. One of the guest starts laughing and says that another couple said the same thing the day before. So Joseph and Joe are here already.

We continue to laugh at the prior evenings recap while Walt cuts up fresh fruit and Annie makes breakfast – an amazing frittata. Joe & Joesph come in with their little bundle, Ella – who is just adorable (she was born the day after Kensington… but has SO much more hair – gorgeous curly locks). We haven’t seen them since the Friends In Adoption holiday party in November, so there was a lot of catching up to do. We thought the park where the picnic was being held at was just down the road, so we took our time at the B&B, only to find out that it was 25 minutes away. Having no cell service, Chris started panicking. He was worried that our birthparents would be waiting longer than expected. His panic deepened when we missed our original turn and then hit a street fair that caused us to have to detour. Luckily, we were not the only ones to miss the turn, or hit the street fair. When we arrived at 10:30, there were only about a two-dozen people at the park and our bio-parents hadn’t arrived yet. Rushing to the park, we forget to try to find a pharmacy. Chris is just going to have to suffer with his eye. We found a great little spot in the shade, next to the lake. The park had about a dozen picnic tables lining the area, so we snatched one up and made the numerous trips needed to bring everything out of the truck. We over packed. Go Figure. The picnic table to the right of us had a group of 8 people… what seemed to be a birth mom, her parents and friends, waiting for their adoptive parents to show up, and when they did they were all excited to be reunited. Hugs and photos took place over the next couple of minutes. Chris and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We knew this was going to be the sight seen over the next couple of hours. Tissues? Did someone pack tissues? How could I forget tissues? I bet they’d have tissues at the pharmacy. It looks as though we will both be suffering today.

We started seeing familiar faces. Lots of them. Some couples from our FIA Getting Acquainted Weekend, some from the FIA Holiday Party, and others that we felt like we knew because we’ve read their profiles (multiple times) and have followed them on their blogs and the FIA website. Soon the masses came. There had to have been at least 250 people spread out over the park. It was self-arranged at how people chose their locations. As I looked across the area, you could see how the parents clustered themselves by age range of their kids. It could also be because they too setup camp next to their friends, but on the far side of the area (by the beach) you would see parents with older kids (2 and up), then there was the set of parents that had 12-24 month olds, then their was us that had the 2-12 month olds. In each of these groups, you could see the collection of gay parents with their families – what and absolutely amazing sight to see. There were four pairs of gay dads that grouped next to our picnic table - all of us were at the same Getting Acquainted Weekend back in August of 2007, now having sons and daughters ranging from 4 months – 9 months, and one of us with twins.

From the distance, I saw our bio-parents and our bio-mom’s sister, walking up from the parking lot. It was perfect timing. There were rounds of hugs followed by flashes of lights from everyone’s camera. Kensington was starting to get hungry so I asked Stacey, her bio-aunt, if she wanted to give her a bottle while Chris, S and S caught up on their travels to Vermont. Over the next several hours, we all spent time admiring Kensington, taking tons of photos, eating (my ‘home-made’ fried chicken with seven herbs and spices with the Mango Salsa – a Pecken’s Family recipe - on the side), and sharing stories of our lives over the past 6 ½ months, as well as injected moments socializing with the other gay dads. The day could not have been more perfect. At one point, due to the sun moving and the picnic table no longer being in the shade, you saw one parent from each of the couples lining the tree line with our babies in tow, protecting our little squirts from the UV’s.

It was time for the Friends In Adoption group photo (how do you take a group photo of 250 people?). We all gathered in one area. We ended up being in the back (go figure). Chris was throwing Kensi up in the air, and I warned him that the last time he did this, she puked in his mouth. As I said the words – yep, you guessed it – she puked in his mouth. I almost wet myself from laughing… so did S&S.

It’s now almost 4pm and Friends In Adoption has invited everyone back to their agency (which just underwent a huge capital campaign to renovate their building), so they could do a dedication ceremony. About 100 of us trekked over to their Middletown Springs building and checked out their new digs. After a while, Chris, Kensi and I, along with S&S (who would be staying the night with us) decide to head back to the B&B so we could arrange for our own dinner. Kensi’s sleep schedule has totally been blown for the day. She took a small nap at the park, but not nearly the amount of time that she should have. Once back at the B&B (Walt and Annie moved us into the Moose room so S&S could have the Bear Room), I put Kensi down for a nap, Chris headed to town for dinner, and S&S walked some of the 150 acres of property. Twin Mountain Farms is absolutely stunning. Annie tells S&S about a cabin that they have across the way and that they should check it out, but they hold off until Chris comes back. Kensi’s nap is only 20 minutes. She should sleep well tonight (fingers crossed).

After dinner, I suggested that they walk to the cabin (6/10 of a mile away) and I’d stay behind with Kensi. Unfortunately, they took the wrong path (and went in the wrong direction) and ended up… guess where, guess where??? Yep. You guessed it, they ended up on Margaret’s property and were ‘greeted’ by Clint (?), her husband who was out on the property. He asked Chris if he was one of the guys that entered his house the night before, and Chris apologized – once again – for our error. Thank God he wasn’t home when we did enter (is that why she left the light on?).

By the time Chris, S&S came back (disappointed that they didn’t find the cabin), Joe, Joseph & Ella had come in and were in the living area. The eight of us stayed up for awhile, letting the girls play a bit. S&S shared with us some of the scrapbook pages that they had made with the pictures we’ve sent, as well as the ones they’ve found on the blog.

Around 8 pm it was time for the girls to sleep (hallelujah) and J&J went back to the Wolfs Den (the cabin next to the main house). We stayed up with S&S for about another two hours talking. By the time we were headed to bed, we were all exhausted from the activities of the day. We decided to find the cabin in the morning (which I know you will enjoy that story). I crank in the air conditioner and set it to 70. Hopefully, if the rooster wakes up early in the morning, the sound of the AC will drowned her out.

One could hope, right?

[Due to the sensitivity of the subject, and wanting to respect the privacy of both the adoptive parents and birth parents at the picnic, as well as the privacy of the kids, we decided not to post pictures of this event. Our apologies... but we know that you understand]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bio-Family Reunion (Day 1)

Our adoption agency, Friends In Adoption, hosted their annual Family Picnic this past weekend in Vermont. With more than 250 participants, the event was a fun-filled event celebrating the families that FIA has helped create through adoption.

We had an amazing time, and Kensington was reunited with her bio-parents... but getting to Vermont on Friday was an event within itself. This post may be a little longer than our past entries, but I guarantee you - if you read to the end, you will be glad that you did. Trust.

Chris and I were both working only a half day on Friday and it was our plan to leave Pennsylvania no later than 2 pm. With any luck, we would be at the Bed & Breakfast - Twin Mountain Farms - no later than dinner time.

Five minutes after I left the office and headed home, I received a call from Chris. He left his headlights on and his car battery was dead and he was running a little late. He had a charger in his car, but it also was dead. He needed to plug it in and it should only delay him about 20 minutes. No Biggie. We'd still make it by dinner time (I'm hoping you can sense that this is just the beginning of our travel delays).

About a half hour after the first call, I receive another... the charger isn't charging, but he has a co-worker that has one and that should work. It should only be a few more minutes before Chris is on his way. Unfortunately, a few minutes later another call arrives. That didn't work, and because he was in a parking garage, it was difficult for a car to jump him directly.

Chris's option is now to borrow his boss's car and buy a car battery. It should be a thirty minute round-trip affair. Key word was should. When Chris went to buy the battery, he was told that the make/model of his car actually had three different types of batteries. What?!?!? Okay... at this point I would clearly use the 'gay card'. I don't know anything about cars, but I would have bet money that a car would only have one option for a battery size.

Chris bought the most common battery... only to find out that it wasn't the right one. He had to go back to the store to buy another one - the right one - once he wrote the model number down. [looking at this, I would have bought all three batteries and returned the other two, but that's just me]

After everything that was said and done, Chris left New Jersey at 4pm.

When Chris got home, just before 6, the truck was packed and Kensington and I were ready to go. Who needs dinner at the B&B when you can easily just eat some crappy junk food on the road, right?

Taking a closer look at Chris, I noticed that he had a hole in his dress shirt because battery acid leaked all over while he was changing the battery. Thank God Lands' End makes thick shirts! Chris decided to wash up, quickly, and from the other room I heard, "Paul, can you take a look at something for me?" Uh oh. Did more battery acid splash on him? His right eye had started to swell. He said that he felt some pain prior to his car issues, so we ruled out acid in the eye. Under the light, it looked like he had an ingrown eyelash that was causing irritation. No biggie. We'd stop by the store and pick up some eye wash on the way.

6:25pm and we're in the car, ready to go. I turn to Chris, "Okay. THIS is the start of the weekend. Everything else that has happened, let's leave it behind. We'll be a little late tonight, but it's not an issue. We can't let what has happened today define how this weekend is going to take place." We plugged the iPod in, and assigned the soundtrack of our travels. Off we go.

Ten minutes into the trip I remind Chris to call the B&B to tell them we're going to be late. The road to New York state is lined with huge trees that cover the pavement, so reception isn't the greatest. Chris decided to call once we crossed the state line.

By the time we made it to New York, Chris' eye has almost swollen shut. We stop at the store for eye wash and a heat pad. The pain has also gotten worse. It looks like we will be making a trip to the hospital [What is that wait going to look like?]. We then start searching for a CVS MinuteClinic or a Mr. Z's Careworks on the iPhone. There is nothing in the area. But we did find a county clinic 20 miles away that is open until 9pm.

Oh, did I mention it's now pouring down raining?

Chris calls Annie at the B&B and tells her that we are now going to be extremely late. She tell us not to worry about it, there is another couple that will be arriving late and she will leave a note on the door for them not to lock the door on us. She tells us that we will be in the "Bear" room, which is located above the kitchen, so she will leave the light on in the room for us. She also tells us that the road that they are on is a dirt road. "Just as a heads up."

It's now 8:15 and we're pulling into the clinic. It looks like there is no line so we should be in and out in no time. And we were. 20 minutes later we found out that Chris had two stye's, and with some ointment from the pharmacy, it should be down to normal size within 24 hours. There is just one problem... by the time we make it to the pharmacy, it was about to close. Chris explained that we were from out of state, and headed to Vermont and we stopped at a clinic, but the moron behind the Walmart counter refused to help. He told us to go down the street to another pharmacy, but told us that it too closed at 9pm and we'd never make it in time.

I spend time looking for a 24 hour pharmacy on the GPS and find one. We plug it into the trips map and, once again, off we go. By the time we get to the area, it's raining so hard that I can't see the exit signs. The area I'm supposed to get off at has major construction, and detour signs, and missing exit numbers. I end up missing the exit and have to drive two miles to the next exit to turn around. On the way back, I miss the exit again. I swear there wasn't a sign for 7N. I saw a 7B, 7A (why are they out of order?), and 7S. No 7N. I end up having to drive three miles back towards our home to turn around again. Guess what, still no 7N. I get frustrated. "Chris, I'm sorry. It's pouring raining. I can't see. I can't find the exit. The GPS tells me to turn where the road is blocked. I can't detour. You're going to have wait until the morning to stop at the pharmacy. We're already so late at the GPS says we're not going to arrive until after 1am in the morning. If we head to the pharmacy, that's in the opposite direction, it will put us another 45 minutes behind schedule." Chris agrees, reclines his seat, and goes to sleep.

By 1:15, we're in Middletown Springs, Vermont. I turn on the dirt road that Annie informed us about. After the first 10 yards on the road, both Chris and Kensi wake up. The road isn't meant for a car, let alone a SUV. It looks like it's a road made for quads. But there was a road sign, and the GPS did tell us to turn. It's rained so hard that it's washed out and has huge pot holes in it. The chimes attached to Kensington's car seat are now flying around. The GPS says we will be on this road for 4 miles. OMG!!! The truck is now fishtailing because of the mud. I put it into 4 wheel-drive. At one point, I ended up stopping the truck. We're sitting on top of a hill, and I can't tell if there is a road in front of me. "Chris, I don't know if I can drive this is reverse for two miles to get out of this. I think we're driving down a trail, and not a road."

I'm now inching the car to see if there is any resemblance of a road in front of us. Tree branches are hitting the windshield and the side of the truck. This is not fun for any of us, but we couldn't have been prouder of Kensi. While she made some noises, she didn't cry one bit. About a half mile before the B&B, the road opens up. We're now on a real dirt road. We found out that it brought us the back way, and not the route that Annie had told us to go.

FINALLY, we see light from the home and as we begin to pass it, the GPS tell us that we just passed our destination. I end up trying to turn around to head back to the driveway. Because it was still raining so hard, I missed the driveway again. We pull in, and we see a car with Connecticut plates (Yeah... Joe & Joesph are here).

Chris grabs Kensi and her diaper bag and runs to the house. The door is wide open so he sets her down in the foyer. I run in with my hands full... our bags and the pack-n-play. We're soaked. Standing in the foyer, and with each step we take, the floor creaks. Kensi is just staring at us.

The floors were gorgeous. It looks like someone cut a tree down the middle and placed the trunks side-by-side. There was a living area to the right and a living area to the left. Annie told us that there were two living areas and that she'd reserve one for us so we could spend time visiting with Kensington's bioparents. This place is perfect for us.

From the outside of the house, we could see the light on in the bedroom above the kitchen... we just couldn't find how to get to the room. Chris has his iPhone and is using it as a flashlight, and I'm using my blackberry (that is about to die at any moment) that I'm using to gauge where I'm walking to. I walk into the kitchen/dining room area and it's huge. It's probably the size of the first floor of our home. The table is set for twelve and the kitchen area looks like it's going to be a great place to hang out. Chris opens one door and it's a bathroom. Another door and it's a linen closest. I walked to one area and it's the mud room / laundry room with a door (which is open) leading to the outside of the house. I find some light switches and turn them on. We then open another door and find the staircase. It's about time!

Houston, we have a problem. There are items on each stair. Shoes, boxes, papers, magazine... you name it, it was on it. "How does she expect us to carry a pack-n-play and suitcases up this?" Then came the kicker, "Chris, I don't see the light on in the room." I refuse to go up.

Chris goes to check it out and realizes it's the stairs to the attic/storage area, not the Bear Room. Kensington is starting to get a little restless, so now I'm walking around (on my tip toes) with her car seat in hand. Chris decides to go up to the main staircase to see if the room is up there. With each step he takes, on the stairs and on the upstairs hallway, I can hear him. My biggest fear is that we wake up everyone in the house. I give Chris two minutes before I head upstairs. Chris sees me and frantically waves me away. He walked into the room with the light on and there was a guest laying on the bed, sleeping. He apologized, but doesn't think he work her up. Clearly, this wasn't our room.

I walked into one of the living area and and couldn't find any doors to another room. Now I'm starting to get frustrated. "I'm just sleeping here. Seriously. There are two couches, and plenty of room to set up the pack-n-play. It's fine... when someone wakes up, they can show us to our room." Chris doesn't like this idea so we go into the other living area looking for doors.

In this room, there is a small serving table, that has two place mats and tea cups in place (I hope they have English Breakfast or Earl Grey ready in the morning). "Chris, you need to call Annie. I don't care if it wakes up people. It's now almost 1:30 and I'm freak'n exhausted." Chris looks at his phone and notices he doesn't have signal. Neither do I. "This is just GREAT!" Chris wants to go outside and see if he can get a signal there. "Chris, YOU ARE NOT leaving me alone in this house. With our luck tonight, this isn't even our B&;B. Watch someone walk down the stairs with a gun - they will shoot us for breaking into their house."
We laugh, and then I notice that there is a Christmas tree up in the corner of the room. Chris picks up a pile of mail on the table and it doesn't say Annie or Walt - the proprietors. "I think we're in someone's home." and it was with those words that we hear someone walking down the stairs.
"What are you doing in my house?!?!"
"Annie?" Chris says.
"No. I'm not Annie"
"We thought we were at our Bed & Breakfast. We're so sorry. Look, we have a baby. We don't mean you any harm." Words I never thought I'd have to say.
"How long have you been in my home?"
"We just arrived. We were told the light in the room above the kitchen would be on, and the front door would be unlocked. Your door was wide open."
"This is Vermont. We leave our doors open here."
"We know..."
"How many of you are here?"
"Just the two of us, and the baby. Thank God you don't have a gun!"
"The B&B is next door. We've had people stop here before looking for it, but no one has ever entered our house before! Do you know what time it is? Who arrives at a B&B this late?"
"Again, we're sorry. We've had the worst trip ever. That's why Annie said she'd leave the door unlocked and the light on for us."
"let me grab my shoes and I will show you where you need to go. [notices the lights on in the kitchen]. I didn't leave those lights on!"
"That was me... again, we were looking for our room above the kitchen." [thank God she didn't wake up when Chris entered her bedroom. But honestly... what adult do you know that sleeps with her lights on?!?!?]

She heads to get her shoes and I run outside with Kensington and her diaper bag. Margaret (we later found out her name) came out of the side door. "Where is the other one?" (meaning Chris). "He's inside... he was waiting for you to put your shoes on. We weren't expecting you to come out of a different door. Honestly, there is only two of us. We are soooo sorry." She heads back inside to get him and she points us in the right direction.

"It's right next door. I don't know how you missed it." Well, we do... we got in the car and it was a mile down the dirt road. We saw the B&B and the light was on in the room above the kitchen, and there was a note on the door welcoming us.

Needless to say, this is a night that we will NEVER EVER forget!!!

Before we turn in for the night, I turned to Chris and said, "Okay. THIS is the start of the weekend. Everything else that has happened, let's leave it behind. [I begin to laugh]
Thank God that woman didn't have a gun!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marriage for Some is a new documentary that explores the difficult and often painful predicament of same-sex partners who are prevented from legalizing their union by civil law. It's being produced by Daedalus Productions, a not-for-profit film and television production company, to advance the cause of same-sex marriage equality.

I'm sure many of you would love to see this film, but they still need to raise some money to complete it. Hence this post... it's to help make people aware of their new website, www.marriageforsome.org, where you can learn more about the movie and the individuals involved with the production as well as make a tax-deductible donation.

We all know that that times are tough right now for almost everyone, but if you do have a few dollars to spare, I'm sure they would greatly appreciate it. And if you're independently wealthy and have always dreamed of becoming involved with a worthy film project, here's a great opportunity.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Helping Dads Navigate Strange Territories

Parenting in the 21st century is challenging and confusing for most parents. Families look and are different than years ago. More and more gay and lesbian couples are adopting or using surrogacy as a means of building families. Gay and straight dads are raising kids more and more and more (SAHD/SAD's - Stay at home dads), and more are the primary caregivers. We have to parent differently now.

What values do we want to pass on?

What do we want to teach our kids?

What kind of people do we want them to be?

Dads need to provide an environment for their children that is nurturing and loving with clear expectations and consequences that teach but do not shame. A Parent Coach can help with these challenges.

Here are the 10 of the most Frequently Asked Questions of a parenting coach.
By Susan P. Epstein, LCSW, Parent Coach

1. Question: What are some key reasons that a dad would seek out a Parent Coach’s help?

Answer: You have a child with difficult behavior (lack of respect, anger, back-talk, interrupting, tantrums, etc), or who is acting out or not doing well in school. Also if you are going through: divorce, remarriage, blending a family, trauma or loss, teen alcohol or drug use, or if you want to improve family communication, balance or support.

2. Question: What should I look for in a Parent Coach?

Answer: An expert in the areas of child development and family dynamics. They should be non-judgemental, good at building rapport, creative (they tailor plans to your family’s needs), patient, and a good teacher and mentor.

3. Question: What if I have already read parenting books and taken my child to a therapist and I am still struggling?

Answer: That’s okay and it means that you are searching for answers. Parent coaching can help because the coach works with you to tailor a parenting plan for your family.

4. Question: I have a special needs child and/or my child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, Conduct Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. Can a parent coach help us?

Answer: Absolutely, most children/teens will respond to a behavioral plan if the plan is designed for their developmental stage and age.

5. Question: Is waiting until your child is a teenager too late to change their behavioral patterns?

Answer: It is best to start as early as possible. But, even if they are 16 or 17 years old you can still turn that behavior around fairly quickly with the right plan.

6. Question: What is the biggest challenge that dads face in today’s world?

Answer: That has to be a combination of disrespect from their children and parent guilt. They go hand in hand. “If I discipline my child for being inappropriate he won’t like me but then I feel guilty because I know that I am not setting limits and this isn’t good for him.” A dad may feel guilty because he is stretched thin and overwhelmed. This is especially difficult with divorce where the kids are going back and forth between two homes. If dad doesn’t want to be “the bad guy” he might let behaviors go that need to be addressed.

7. Question: What are some of the biggest fears that dads have?

Answer: Dads believe that if they yell and scream at their kids that they will damage their children for life. They are also told that if they spank their kids that Child Protection Services will be knocking on the door. Some dads are afraid to utilize their power and feel as if their hands are tied and they don’t know what to do.

8. Question: How does parent coaching take place?

Answer: Weekly parent telephone sessions and email, group parent telephone sessions, in-home sessions, and coaching products like books, DVDs and audio CDs.

9. Question: What if I am interested in hiring a parent coach but not sure?

Answer: Most parent coaches will provide a free consultation to see if you can work together.

10. Question: How long would I work with my parent coach and what are the costs?

Answer: Every coach has their own recommendations based on the family situation. Minimum is usually 3 months up until 12 months. Sometimes after a period of time weekly calls aren’t as necessary and the appointments can be shorter and less frequent.

Susan P. Epstein, LCSW, Parent Coach, is an expert in the areas of family dynamics, parenting and child development. Susan will uncover and unleash your parenting power. Visit her site at www.ParentingPowers.com

Monday, July 6, 2009

Today I Watched You Sleeping...

Sitting beside you, I watched our angel sleep.

Legs crossed, tiny toes flickering... one arm stretched out. Your fingers signing out your dreams.

Little rump in the air, shaking like a puppy in a pet shop window.

Whisper sounds escaping from your plump lips, back lifting with each breath you take.

Our Love. Our Joy. Sweet Dreams...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Need a Lift?

Just one more reason to keep shopping at Ikea!

Thanks to Dana Rudolph over at The Bilerico Project who post this actual photo from the IKEA in Stoughton, Massachusetts (Slight color correction, but otherwise not PhotoShopped.)

There was, in fact, another elevator next to it with a man, woman (stick figure in a dress) and a child.

The only thing that could have made this better is having one of the men holding furniture assembly instructions with the other figure having a question mark above his head. For those of you you've ever put Ikea furniture together, you know far to well what I'm talking about :)

Independence Day

Here are a few pictures from yesterdays celebration. Later on in the week, I'll upload the videos that show Kensington playing with her new friend, Oscar (the French Bulldog). Enjoy!

(and yes... she has learned to pose for the camera. We're raising a lil diva)

Protect those precious little baby legs!

BabyLegs has grown from one mom’s diaper bag essential to an essential product for all. They began as a solution to keep little legs warm, and now the uses are endless!

Now that our little chickpea is mobile, we needed something to kept her knees protected while crawling, and provided sun protection when we go outside on the back deck. These kneecap savers, which we found at Cinderella's Closet, were the perfect fit. After looking up the company online, we noticed that tons of places around the country offer these. You can find a retailer close to you by clicking here. Kensington loves her rainbow BabyLegs... and they go fabulously with her rainbow onesies that we found at Gymboree.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

American Traditions

There is only one thing that I know of that is more American than Apple pie, hot dogs, baseball and Chevy trucks (before the company filed chapter 11), and that's the IGRA. That's right. The International Gay Rodeo Association. This year, Kensington Grace is trying to buck the system by becoming the youngest Grand Marshall in Gay Rodeo history. While she doesn't technically meet the qualifications, that's not stopping us. We know that her press packet is sure to win the committee members hearts (that, and the online petition that has started will surely do the trick). If not, I'm pretty certain that they will be creating a new category in her honor.

For those of you that have never attended a gay rodeo event, there are several still left in the season before the finals in Albuquerque, New Mexico this October. We'll be trying to make the Philly competition at the end of this month... and our little cowgirl will be obtaining additional signatures to ensure that she get's the crown (and the buckle).

Special thanks to Uncle Mark, Aunie Aggie and her cousin Mason for the cowgirl dress. We're off to practice our Team Roping skills. Moo Moo by little buckaroo!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Into The Woods...

Once upon a time, in the same far-off kingdom that was filled with blueberries that had been previously picked, there was a princess (along with a couple Kings, a tire old Queen, and a Countess) who enjoyed a stroll down a murky trail into the Witch's garden, looking for a few beans. All they found was poison oak (or was it ivy? It was the three spiky-leaf one), a goat and a road less traveled. In the end... they were greeted with apple cider doughnuts, hot dogs, blueberry loaf, and the oddest looking chickens (that should have been on a skewer).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I've Got a Golden Ticket

When Kensington heard that there may be a possible "Willy Wonka the Musial" joining the Great White Way, she started vocal lessons immediately to prepare for the role of a lifetime... Violet Beauregarde. Her publicist, yours truly, already started the marketing campaign to ensure that she's the front runner in the competition. For those of you not familiar with the role of Violet (let me start off by saying 'shame on you'), in the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka invents a gum that is a three-course dinner: tomato soup, roast beef and blueberry pie, all of which Kensi has been eating nonstop to mentally prepare herself. Wonka warns Violet not to chew it, but she argues that she holds the world record in chewing gum and begins chewing it anyway. She claims it is amazing, but when it reaches the blueberry pie her face begins to turn blue. Soon her entire body turns blue, before expanding like a balloon being blown up and then becoming similar to a large blue ball. Willy tells the Oompa Loompas to roll her to the juicing room to be squeezed of the blueberry juice that had built up inside her. Again... the perfect role of our lil diva.

In order to get into character for her audition, Kensington decided to do some in-depth research, so with auntie Cathy and Uncle Kyle, she headed to Princeton to a Blueberry Festival this past weekend.

We were extremely disappointed upon our arrival to find out that Kensington didn't meet the age requirement to pick blueberries... which wasn't terribly that bad as all of the blueberries were picked the day before from the crowd that attended on Saturday. But we were able to see them in little wooden containers in the store. The sad news is, as we were getting out of the car, Aunt Cathy clearly stated that nobody in the vehicle would be to purchasing blueberries from the festival - - she just went to Costco and bought several pecks. That is what I call a blueberry buzz kill!

So, we ventured off to visit the horses and the goats, along with the geese and the chickens. While only 6 months old, she did enjoy petting the animals and took hold of what, thank God, turned out to be the most mild-tempered farm cat we've ever seen. She grabbed her by both hands and clamped down for her life. She wouldn't left go. When we were finally able to release her grasp, two huge tuffs of hair came with her [note to self... keep Kensington away from Gossip for the next coupe of years].

As you can see from the pictures, Kensi still has a revulsion for socks. It's something we're working through (at $20 per copay for the counseling sessions).

If she doesn't get the part, hopefully she can at least play the third Oompa Loompa from the left. It's still worthy of SAG points.

A look back...

Wow... our little girl is growing up right before our very eyes.

Doug @ Daddy's Tired

It's Daddies. Plural. would like to thank all of our new followers for joining, as well as our dedicated followers for participating in our first blog give-a-way. We're very pleased to announce that Doug @ Daddy's Tired is the winner! His site is a diversion from all the excitement at home. It's a place for him to vent, offer suggestions, links and other worldly parenting advice from a guy whose been a parent for a very short time. Don't worry, we claims to have all the answers you need! Doug is also a columnist at Dad-Blogs.

We're looking forward to our next give-a-way and hope you are as well.