10/27/09

Learning From Mistakes

As many of you know, I am a huge baseball fan, more specifically a huge Mets fan. During the season, since I live outside of Philadelphia, I order the baseball package offered by DirecTV and watch just about every Mets game. In recent years it's become somewhat of a father-son bonding experience. Junior Bear has even become a Mets fan like me. I haven't forced this on him (swear it), I think he just likes what I like right now.

In addition to the Mets games, I like watching just about any baseball game that's on and Junior Bear will watch along with me. One of the channels offered with the baseball package is a "mix channel" that shows eight games on one screen. Junior Bear especially likes this channel and will stand at the TV and ask me who he should root for in each game.

This mindset of his has carried over into the baseball playoffs. He feels a need to root for one team over another even though I keep telling him it doesn't matter who we root for because the Mets aren't playing (something I am used to saying this time of year).

Well, being Mets fans in Philadelphia we have a special dislike for the Phillies. And being a Mets fan anywhere, I also hate the Yankees. Actually, I don't really hate the Phillies, it's more the fans I don't like. But when it comes to the Yankees I hate everything about them, fans, players, everything!

So, you can see how this upcoming World Series is going to be one of the toughest... no, THE toughest World Series I have ever endured. I have pondered the question since the Phillies beat the Dodgers in the NLCS who I would pull for, the Phillies or the Yankees.

I have played out every argument (I won't waste your time with all the particulars) and I keep coming to the same conclusion -- nobody. I don't want anyone to win. I actually want... never mind I won't say that, but point is I want both teams to endure a painful loss. A very painful loss. Problem is, there can be only one loser and I am sick over that.

As a result, I am trying to ignore everything about this series. Usually a faithful sports radio listener, I have resorted to listening to elevator music to just ease my emotions. I try to keep a positive attitude at home. I mean, Mama Bear, Peanut Bear and Cookie Bear are Phillies fans and I don't want ruin it for them, but it's very hard.

It got even harder last night when Junior Bear asked me, "Dad, we like the Mets so we have to root for the New York team. Will you root for the Yankees with me?"

I wanted to tell my son I supported him and his decision, but I had trouble. You want to say, "Sure son, I'll root for the Yankees." But I didn't. I didn't say no, but I didn't say yes either. I said, "You can root for whoever you want."

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy he doesn't want to root for the Phillies, but I can't accept the rooting for the Yankees. How could any self-respecting Mets fan root for the Evil Empire? Well, I can't do it. I won't do it!

I imagine this is the just the first of many decisions Junior Bear will make that I won't agree with. Part of your job as a parent is to let your children live their lives and make their own mistakes so they learn from experience. Let it be known right now, that this is the first mistake I am letting Junior Bear learn from. Trust me, I'm not happy about letting him do this, but at the age of six, it's better he learns now rather than later. I just hope this doesn't scar him for the rest of his life.

10/14/09

Reminder: The Kids Have School

Well, Uncle Bear (my brother) got married last Friday and my entire family was included in the wedding. So, I thought there would be something to take from that for the blog this week.

As it turns out, nothing noteworthy happened at the wedding. However, the following Monday was very interesting.

It turns out the Monday afterwards was Columbus Day. Mama Bear had off from school (she teaches at a charter school in Philadelphia), so we let the kids sleep in as Cookie Bear was off from pre-school as well.

So, I was on my way out the door to get to work early so I could leave early. As I brought the yard waste to the curb on my way to the car, I noticed a bus drive by.

As it approached I thought that it was one of the Catholic School buses. I looked at the students through the windows as the bus drove by and I said to myself, "Boy that girl looks familiar."

Once the bus went by, I saw the number on the back of the bus: 10.

"Huh. That's Peanut and Junior Bear's bus," I said to myself.

Then, one of the neighbears, whose kid is on the same bus, drove by, stopped and asked, "Are you okay?"

"The kids have school today?" I questioned.

"It's not like when we were kids," she answered "They go to school on Columbus Day. The kids okay?"

"Yeah. Perfect," I said. "They are upstairs asleep. I guess we better get them up."

Anyway, fast forward about 45 minutes. As I checked the kids into school late, the nice lady at the desk asked, "What's the reason for them being late?"

"Truthfully," I answered, "I didn't think they had school today until I saw the bus ride by."

She laughed.

By the way, should I be worried that the lady knew my kids so well that as soon as we walked in the office she said hi to them by name? The school is pretty big and I wonder why she knows them so well.

9/29/09

When the Naughty Step Isn’t So Bad

As many of you know, I go to work in the mornings after dropping Cookie Bear off at pre-school for 9 am. This means I work later as I usually don’t get to work until 9:30-9:45. As a result, I miss dinner most nights since I don’t get home until 6-6:30.

Well, last week I had to come home early from work to relieve the sitter because Mama Bear had her “Back to School Night.” Therefore, I had to get dinner ready for the three kids.

Peanut Bear and Junior Bear, both in first grade, are good little eaters. As long as they don’t have a snack too close to meal time, they’ll eat everything in sight. Cookie Bear, well she’s a different story. See, she didn’t get her nickname because she liked vegetables.

Anyway, that night I made chicken cutlets with a side of broccoli (okay, you got me, I didn’t actually make the chicken cutlets, but I did warm them up). At first the twins moaned, but ate. Cookie Bear, well, it wasn’t that easy. Once she saw the food, she immediately started crying, saying, no yelling, “I don’t like chicken! I don’t like this (the broccoli)!”

The outburst and defiance continued for a few more minutes and when it became clear none of us were going to eat in peace, I sent her to the naughty step. A few minutes later I went to get her and explained that she had to finish everything on her plate if she wanted to join us in playing the game Trouble after dinner.

Trouble… huh…I should have seen this coming.

Anyway, as soon as she sat down, she said she was going to eat the chicken, but not the “green stuff.”

Peanut Bear tried to show her that it wasn’t that bad, even saying, “Look, I don’t like it either, but broccoli will help you grow big and strong.”

Amazing how Peanut Bear is like a little mom.

Well, Peanut and Junior Bear finished their food and went downstairs to play. I stayed with Cookie and true to her word she finished her chicken and left the broccoli. She sat there just starring at it. I reminded her she wasn’t going to be able to play Trouble if she didn’t finish it and I started to clean up.

It was at this point something incredible happened. Something I never thought in my wildest dreams would ever occur.

As I was at the sink, Cookie Bear got out of her seat and went straight to the naughty step. When I turned around and didn’t she her and then found her at the naughty step, my heart broke for just a moment.

Here was a four-year-old girl who was willing to not only give up her chance to play a game with her brother, sister and dad, but would rather sit at the naughty step voluntarily than eat her broccoli.

Unbelievable! If the Green Giant could see this now his “Yo-ho-ho” would be more like “Oh-no-no.” On the other hand, the Keebler Elves sure would’ve been proud, that’s for sure.

Think about that. Cookie Bear would rather sit by herself at the naughty step, a punishment, than eat broccoli.

Once again, I didn’t anticipate that response and was left at a loss. Why is nothing easy? Just eat the broccoli!

I told her she didn’t have to sit at the naughty step, because she didn’t do anything wrong, but she stayed there until her sister came upstairs with the game Trouble. Cookie then got off the step, but I had to stay true to my word and she wasn’t able to play.

I left the broccoli out on the table in front of her in case she changed her mind. But the strong willed little girl also stayed true to her word and 45 minutes later (let me tell you Trouble is NOT a quick game) the broccoli was still there. And she was fine with not playing the game.

I did let her have a bowl of cereal before bed because I didn’t want her to go to bed hungry, but that was it. I don’t know if that was right or wrong to do, but I have to give that little girl props. She stuck to her guns.

A week later I still can’t believe it. She would rather go to the naughty step and watch us have fun instead of eating broccoli!

9/22/09

Not Everyone's been a Papa Bear Fan

I was dropping Cookie Bear off at pre-school today and our neighbor was dropping off her youngest child when we got to talking and I was reminded of my early days as a Daytime Daddy. She was saying that her son is enjoying the beginning of his first year in pre-school and I got to thinking about how my first year of pre-school went.

Well, it wasn’t actually my first-year in pre-school (I don’t remember that), it was my first year at pre-school as a parent -- Peanut Bear’s first year at pre-school. I told our neighbor how much Peanut really enjoyed the school. She liked it so much, that she almost got me arrested or at least a visit from DHS.

Before I get into what almost led to my incarceration, let me explain Peanut Bear and the relationship I, a man who was as much a child as she was, had with her when she was three years old. She has always been a very smart, caring child, who in hindsight was probably just as insecure and in need of attention as she was confident and independent. She required, no, demanded, a lot of my time.

This was very difficult since she had a twin brother, Junior Bear, and a younger sister, Cookie Bear, who was just one at the time. There was only so much time and she demanded about 80 percent of it.

Looking back, I laugh (because it’s better than crying), but we butted heads a lot. I found myself getting in arguments with a three year old…and losing!

Anyway, getting back to what almost landed me in County Jail for 3-to-6…

Dropping Peanut and Junior Bear off at pre-school went flawlessly just about every day. Very few times did they get upset with me leaving. To the contrary, it was me coming back that was the problem.

Peanut Bear would be so upset she had to leave that she would scream and cry like the world was coming to an end.

Let me say that again. Peanut Bear would scream and cry when her dad, Papa Bear, the only Daytime Daddy in the school, would come to get her!

She would not easily leave with me! She would run back to the teacher, who we’ll call Miss Bearie, and would not easily come back to me, the only Daytime Daddy in the pre-school.


Do you see my concern here? A seemingly well-balanced child would flip her lid when her dad, a man who was home with her all day, would enter the room. You would’ve thought I was some horrible person.

Now, let me put this into perspective. I would be battling with Peanut Bear to leave and Junior Bear would be down the hallway towards the exit and Cookie Bear would be in the carrier. So I would be arguing with Peanut to come, while begging Junior Bear to stay, all the while making sure I don’t forget Cookie Bear. Can you see why I’d be sweating and looking completely guilty of whatever thoughts were running through Miss Bearie’s head?

“Miss Bearie! I love you! I want a hug!” Peanut would say.

See, it wasn’t as much Peanut Bear not wanting to come with me, but wanting to stay with Miss Bearie.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

9/16/09

Vacation from Vacation

You hear that?

If you listen very carefully, you might just hear it.

Do you hear it now?

That’s right, nothing. Yes, the sound of silence. It’s a beautiful sound.

See, it was a busy summer for Papa Bear and the crew. It seemed like we were going somewhere different every weekend. If we weren’t at my parents’ house, we were at Mama Bear’s parents’ house. If we weren’t at some party, we were down the shore.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Quit your complaining. I would love to be at the shore.”

You’re right, I love it there.

Only this summer was a lot tougher than past summers. Junior Bear and Peanut Bear, now both six years-old, were like little fish. And it wasn’t Mama Bear who would spend hours at a time in the water with them. It was me, Papa Bear, the one who burns. Cookie Bear would spend time at the shore line, but by the end of August she too was coming in and need to be watched.

It got to the point when I was telling my boss about all of this he said, “You need a lifeguard just for you and your kids.” He was right. Only, I knew a few lifeguards growing up and they’re really just sleeping off their hangovers and looking at the bikinis, so I thought it best I do it on my own.

Although, on my own with three kids is not a great idea either. See, I’m sort of a push-over when it comes to the kids, so it was hard for me to get them to get out of the water. I would say, “Come on, time to get out.”

They respond: “Five more minutes.”

Me: “Okay.”

…10 minutes later

Me: “Let’s go now.”

Them: “Two more waves, dad, please.”

Me: “Okay. Two more waves.”

…20 waves later…

Me: “We really have to get back to the chairs. Let’s go. You’re turning purple.”

The turning purple thing is what got them. But once they warmed up, they were pulling at me to go back in with them.

Oh well, I could think of worse things to be doing than spending quality time with my kids. It was actually really fun. I can’t remember the last time I was in the water that much.

Honestly, though, as much fun as I had, it’s a little refreshing to have the kids back in school. It allows me to have a vacation from their vacation. Did you ever think you’d need a vacation from vacation and look forward to going to work?

They’re all (including Mama Bear) going to bed earlier now, which allows me some quality time with the laptop. There was actually a point this summer when Mama Bear said to me that I needed to start blogging again, because it seemed to be stress reliever for me. My therapy.

I think she’s right.

Even though I’m probably not the best at this, it does allow me time to sit back and reflect on the good things.

8/11/09

Papa Bear's been a Bad Boy

To all my faithful PBM readers;

I apologize. I have been a bad boy. I haven't been faithful to my blogging.

The key to me having the time to blog was the school year. The kids and Mama Bear, a teacher, go to bed early during the school year, giving me time at night to blog.

Well, during the summer not only does Mama Bear stay up later, but so do the kids. It wouldn't be fair of me to take time from them to blog.

See you in a few weeks when school's back in session and I get time to continue to record my unique experiences on this blog.

Thanks,

Papa Bear

7/20/09

Good Afternoon Babies!

There were times being a Daytime Daddy when days seemed to drag on, especially when Peanut Bear and Junior Bear were infants. The days would run into another, making almost every day seem like ground hog day.

I'm sure many of you know what I mean. The monotony of changing countless diapers and conducting seemingly endless feedings was sometimes too much to take.

At the onset of my daytime Daddy duties I was too afraid to take the kids out of the house. Actually, afraid might not be the right word. Overwhelmed might be more accurate. The thought of taking a pair of newborns anywhere, was a little much for this first-time dad.

So to pass the time at home, I took to entertaining myself, sometimes, I'll admit, this was at their expense.

Remember, I am a sports nut from north Jersey. So just about all sports fan from the New York area listen to WFAN. Well, fortunately for me, where I live in the Philadelphia area, I can listen to the station on the radio (I don't know what I would've done had I been cooped up in a house with two infants and had to listen about the Eagles all day).

Anyway, the afternoon hosts at the time were Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. The show was called 'Mike and the Mad Dog' and Russo would open the show with his patented scream and intro.

Here is an example of it that I found on Youtube...





Well, when I would wake the kids up from their afternoon nap, I would 'borrow' Russo's schtick and put my own Papa Bear spin on it. I would sneak on their room and in my best Chris Russo voice...

(start out quietly and then get louder)Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Good afternoon babies and how are you today?! This is daddy, the time is 2 o'clock on this 5th day of June 2004 and I'll be taking you through the rest of the day until Mommy gets home at 5 o'clock and I go to work.

Now, before you think this was a form of child abuse, let me tell you the kids grew to absolutely love it. By the time I was done with my bit, they were up and jumping at the side of the crib, and it kept me humored.

7/6/09

Cookie being Cookie

It’s been awhile since Papa Bear has made an appearance, and for that I apologize. It seems every time I went to blog my home internet was down or I was just tired. Well, it was down again tonight, but I am making an effort to carve out some time to say hello and share a couple of recent stories even though I'm tired.

First story comes from the tales of Mama Bear, who is now home for the summer and is having a blast with the kids. As a matter a fact, she is having such a good time she told the kids the other day she would take them to nearby Valley Forge Park to show them “where the soldiers fought in the Revolutionary War.”

Peanut Bear, the 5-year-old, responded, “I’d like to see where they fighted.”

Mama Bear expalined, “It’s fought. Not fighted.”

Cookie Bear, the 3-year-old, not missing a beat gave an example to her older sister: “Yeah. Like last night I ‘foughted’ in your bed.” (Insert her sound effect here).

I know. It’s not a Papa Bear story, but I find it hard to believe that if it wasn’t because of me, Cookie Bear might’ve not known about “foughting.”

Also, since I last left you, t-ball has ended. It was a great time. The kids enjoyed it and I had a fun time coaching. I had my doubts at the start as I thought the full uniforms and trophy at the end was a little overkill, but as usual I was wrong. The kids loved the uniforms (I thought they wouldn’t really care) and they absolutely loved the trophies (I thought it wouldn’t matter to them). They loved the trophies so much they slept with them next to their beds for the first week or so.

Junior Bear enjoyed himself all season. He is really good, making great strides since the season began. He was excited about games, wanted to be where the action was and held his own at the plate.

Peanut Bear was also really good. She was actually named the Instructional T-Ball League Player of the Week for the final week of the season.

It was great that she was honored. I realize she is just 5, but she worked really hard, practicing at home and paying attention at games and team practice. She is very competitive, which is resulting in problems here and there with her twin brother Junior Bear, but that is who she is right now.

However, I do have to ask the question: Why does Instructional T-Ball for 5-year-olds have a Player of the Week? The point at this level is to let the kids enjoy the game and learn. Every kid hits, every kid scores, there are no outs; so why is one kid honored over the others? I don’t get it. Either every kid gets honored or no one does. I don’t think 5-year-olds are going to care about player of the week honors. Honestly, we (my kids and I) didn’t even know there was a player of the week award before Peanut Bear was named. And not knowing there was a player of the week award, didn’t take anything away from their experience.

6/19/09

PBM on Betty Confidential


Yet another Father's Day mention for the PBM. This time by ours friends at Betty Confidential, naming the PBM a Dad Blog worth reading! Enjoy!



6/18/09

Papa Bear on ivillage.com


I've held off on mentioning this for a few weeks because I didn't know how it would pan out, but NBC Universal owned website ivillage.com asked me to write an article on things to do for your Stay-At-Home Dad this Father's Day.

As you all know, I was a stay-at-home dad for about a year and then a Daytime Daddy for another four. You'll notice they edited my words to make me a Stay-At-Home Dad for five years. I wrote them to let them know of the difference. But they left it the way it is.

Anyway, here is a link to the article. As of Thursday afternoon it was part of the homepage lead. Not sure how long that will last, so I am giving you the direct link.


There it is on the left side... Papa Bear next to Brad Pitt (who would've thunk it??) Of course though, that's not a picture of Papa Bear. It just takes you to the article.

6/16/09

PBM Featured on Goodyblog

The Papa Bear Memoirs continues to make strides. Thanks to all who have been loyal readers and welcome to all you first-timers to the blog.

I'm proud to announce that Parents Magazine's Goodyblog, in honor of Father's Day, recently featured the blog, calling it a "great new dad blog."

I thank them for the kind words.

If you are a first-time visitor I encourage you to check out the archives along the right side to check out some of the older postings.

Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):







Thanks again to everyone out there!

6/9/09

Well, You Asked...

So my sister emailed Mama Bear and I recently on behalf of one of her friends who is going to be having twins. Since we lived the chaos of twins, her friend wanted to pick our collective brains about what to expect, what was needed and all that fun stuff. So, here was my response (some names were changed to protect the innocent). Let me know if it was too much. My sister thinks it was over the top. But I can tell you it's all the truth.

Dear...

The first 2 -2 1/2 years are absolute hell. I'm not just saying that to scare you -- I mean it!!!

Think about what it's like to have have one baby and now times that by two. It starts with lack of sleep, piles and piles of dirty diapers, endless amounts of bottles, creative ways to feed two babies at once (utilize the boppy), and countless trips to the doctors office (who, by the way, if he was ever on time it would be a sign of the apocalypse).

And that's the easy part!

Just when that ends, they turn into toddlers!!! Avoid this at all costs!!! Once they learn to walk, your days of leaving the house are over. Avoid teaching them to walk until they are at least 30.

One goes up the aisles, the other goes down the aisles. You now have to decide who you are going to grab first. Some argue this is life's first lesson in teaching them who you love more. Usually it's the one nearest to the sharper items (at least it was in my case). But once you get him, don't just put in him the stroller, DUCT TAPE HIM TO THE SEAT!!! Trust me when I say he will find a way out when you turn to get the other child.

Then, this one touches this, that one touches that. "No" become the word you say the most. There was one point when someone asked me if we were Japanese, because I was in the store saying "Junior No! Peanut No!" the person thought our last name was "No."

When you leave the store, you learn that your children just broke their first law and you became an accomplice to a crime, as they have that cute little toy you walked passed hidden in their stroller. You know, the toy you said he couldn't have, took from him and put back on the shelf. Well, somehow he got it back. How? I still don't know, but he did.

When you get home and want to relax, you plop in a movie. You shut your eyes for just a minute only to open them to the toy hammer being slammed on your head.

Before you know it, you're in your own house looking for your son. You go upstairs, downstairs, in the bathroom, in your room, check under beds, behind couches and then you happen to look out the window and notice he's half way up the block walking to the playground. You go to get him and when you get inside, the other one has the phone in her hand. You grab it from her and hang it up. As you are in the middle of screaming at them, the police show up at your front door. Apparently she called 911 by accident when you ran outside.

After you convince the nice officer you are a sane individual, the day is over and as you lay in bed you realize you have to do it all again tomorrow.

Only one thought got me through this. I knew one day they would have to change my diapers -- and that is going to be my ultimate revenge.

Seriously, though, congrats on having twins!!!

Papa Bear

5/29/09

First-time Dad Woes

Being home during the day with infant twins is a challenging task for anyone, but is was especially hard for me because, well, I’m a guy.

I’m not speaking for all dads who stay home with the kids, as I’m sure there are plenty who could handle the kids and house with ease. However, for me it was difficult.

On top of having to make sure two kids were fed, cleaned, dressed, rested and kept in good health (which was stressful enough), at the beginning of my tenure as a Daytime Daddy there was a certain expectation of me to keep the house in good shape.

Now, just because I was home during the day it didn’t mean I was domesticated. Sure I can do laundry, but I’m a little challenged at folding it. Sure I can run a vacuum, but I’m not good at cleaning. And of course I can use a bathroom, but not good at…I think you get my drift.

Needless to say, it was very difficult for me to keep up the home and watch the twins. Fortunately, my wife caught on to this early on and the household duties were quickly lifted from my to-do list. I still did the “guy” things, like mow the lawn and balance the checkbook (not sure if that’s a guy thing or not, but for the sake of this it is), but the cleaning chores were taken from me. Mama Bear felt it was better for her to clean, rather than clean-up my clean-up. Apparently that’s how bad I am at cleaning.

To give you an idea of how challenging it was for me to just watch over the kids, here are a few things I did as a first-time father:

I used to write down the time of day the kids had a feeding and how much they had. This helped me remember when I fed them and figure out how long it would take for them to get hungry again. At the time it made sense, in hindsight it was silly. Now, I would tell someone to just feed the kid when he gets hungry.

My diaper challenges also started at an early stage. I would try and be proactive and as soon as I heard a noise I was stripping them down. Well, this didn’t work out that well. See, as soon as I removed the diaper, more would come out, dirtying everything in sight. Of course there was the time I lifted Junior Bear’s legs to ease his “exit,” only to learn I assisted in his wetting his face!

When the kids were older, I once dressed the Peanut Bear in Cookie Bear’s outfit and Cookie Bear in Peanut Bear’s outfit and sent them to pre-school. When asked by Mama Bear later that night what I was thinking, I responded, “I thought it was odd you picked out clam diggers for Peanut and full-length pants for Cookie.”

Point is, I often screwed up the easiest of tasks and was clueless I did so until someone pointed it out.

ANOTHER THING...
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Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

5/21/09

Note to self: Expect the Unexpected

I've been real busy this last week. Not that you want to hear about everything I'm doing, but I've been full-steam ahead on the basement bathroom (drywalling the walls and ceiling and spackling everything), work has been exceptionally busy trying to fit in a bunch of meetings before the holiday and t-ball seems to be every night of the week (although it's just twice). Then, just when I didn't expect it, the washing machine starts acting up (looks like the pump isn't working right). Ugh!!!


Anyway, speaking of the holiday and expecting the unexpected, we had a unique exchange with Peanut Bear and Junior Bear regarding Memorial Day this week when we were getting ready for our Wednesday night t-ball game.


Peanut Bear asked, "Why do we celebrate Memorial Day?"


Mama Bear: "So we can remember all the people who have died fighting for our country."


Peanut Bear: "Well, I don't know any dead people!" (Saying it like she wouldn't be able to celebrate the holiday like everyone else).

...But wait, it gets better...

Junior Bear (jumping right in and not allowing Peanut Bear's punchline to fully sink in): "You mean, like the African Americans?"

...catching me completely off guard...

Papa Bear: "What?!"

Mama Bear: "They've been learning about the Civil War in school."

Papa Bear: "Oh. In kindergarten!!!???"

So then we had to take the time to explain all of this to them (and when I say "we" I mean Mama Bear).


...Everyone enjoy the long weekend!

5/14/09

Sleep Part 2: Sleep Safety

Last week I wrote about how sleep deprivation can take its toll on parents. This week I’m going to touch on how sleep can actually be dangerous – that’s right dangerous!

You might think I’m crazy. How can sleep be dangerous?

Well ladies and gentlemen, allow me to explain.

It all started simple enough. You’ll remember the end of my last post mentioned that the kids, especially Peanut Bear, woke me up in the morning by sticking her little fingers in my eyes, mouth, ears and nose (that’s right, I said nose), and take my word for it things quickly escalate.

By now you know I worked mostly nights and operated on very little sleep (sometimes just a few hours) when the kids were younger. As a result, I usually found myself dozing off, mostly during the daily dose of Baby Einstein.

I figured I would place the kids in the Boppy, put the gate in the doorway of the room, pop in a Baby Einstein and lay next to them on the floor. Well, I quickly learned that I needed to do one more thing before lying down -- and I learned that the hard way.

One day I went through these steps and before I knew it my eyes were closed. It was a light sleep as I could still hear the TV, but that was about it. The kids were just starting to crawl and that’s why I put the gate up (safety first is what I always say). It was shortly after my eyes closed that I was awoken by Peanut Bear hitting me in the face with a toy!

I don’t remember what the toy was, probably because she gave me a concussion, but I do remember telling myself to never complain about an alarm clock again. I mean, have you ever been awoken by toy hitting you in the face?! Trust me when I say it’s not pleasant.

Then there were the times Mama Bear insisted on having Peanut Bear sleep with us at night (you’ll find most sleeping stories that end with a Papa Bear injury have to do with Peanut Bear).

It seemed harmless enough. I mean, how much damage can a 1-year-old do when asleep?

Well, ask my nose.

See, Peanut Bear had this habit of violently swinging her arms outward when asleep, and it seemed that my nose was always at the end of that swing. I can’t tell you how many times I was smacked in the face over the course of a night. I started sleeping with a pillow over my head just for safety.

You’d think that Papa Bear’s Little Girl would threat him a little better, even if it was in her sleep. But I have to admit, it wasn’t Peanut Bear who put the biggest hurt on Papa Bear.

One night Junior Bear, who was about 2-years-old at the time, got a treat and slept in our bed. Junior Bear, though, doesn’t like sleeping under covers for whatever reason and he does move around a lot (which is an understatement) and this led to one of the worst experiences in my entire life.

At one point, Junior Bear – my offspring, the boy who will one day carry on the proud Papa Bear name, the boy whose dirty diaper I used to change changed – lifted his leg and kicked me in the privates!!!

I woke up in such pain, screaming at the top of my lungs. It gave a whole new meaning to a starry night.

Mama Bear couldn’t believe what happened. She, of course, got a good laugh at my expense. But this leads me to wonder why she never gets this treatment from the children?

5/6/09

Sleep Part I: Learning to Operate Tired


I once had a boss who said only one thing to me that turned out to be right – and it had nothing to do with work. He told me when I announced that my wife was pregnant, “You will now learn how to live just about the rest of your life tired.”

Boy, was he ever right.

Now, I could go on a completely different tangent on that boss and how wrong he was so many other times, but that’s a story for a different blog. So, for the sake of the PBM we’ll focus on this one thing he said to me that actually made sense.

I, like many first time parents, learned very quickly how different life is with kids and how tired you quickly become. The first night we brought the twins (Junior Bear and Peanut Bear) home from the hospital, my wife and I stayed up all night just starring at them as they slept. We were so paranoid that something bad would happen that we just sat on the edge of the bed and looked at them.

So, from that night nearly six years ago, I have been playing catch-up in the sleep department.

After we realized nothing would happen to them if we fell asleep, I can remember that we set our alarm clock for every three hours to feed them. The docs at the hospital told us the kids needed to have a bottle that often, so we carried that schedule into the wee hours of the morning. Also, since we had twins we also wanted to keep them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule, otherwise we might’ve been feeding and staying up around the clock.

Then, as the kids began sleeping a little longer and required only one overnight feeding, that’s when things really became interesting (for me at least). Since I was home during the day, I took many of the overnight feedings to allow Mama Bear the consecutive hours of sleep leading into work.

At this point, let me add that we formula fed the kids. We heard all the stories and got all the pressure from the nurses at the hospital on breast feeding, but with twins and a working mom, it just wasn’t going to work.

Here is my contractually required tangent…

Honestly, though, is everyone who is pro-breast feeding part of some kind of cult? I can’t tell you the pressure we felt from the nurses at the hospital. It honestly got to the point when I had to kick the nurse out of the room because she was making us very uncomfortable. I repeat, I kicked a nurse out of our hospital room!!! True story: At one point she told us our kids wouldn’t be smart if Mama Bear didn’t breast feed. Really?! Seriously?!

Trust me, for how much formula costs and how much we went through the first year, I would have much rather Mama Bear breast fed (if memory serves correct we spent around $3,000 in formula alone the first year), but breast feeding just wasn’t realistic with our situation.

Anyway, where was I?… Oh yeah, lack of sleep and overnight feedings.

As I said earlier the big theme of the first year with twins is keeping them on the same schedule. Same schedule and life is easy (relatively speaking), different eating and napping schedules and life is miserable.

So once we realized we could wait for Peanut Bear and Junior Bear to wake up to feed them, I would feed the kid who woke up first, then wake up the other (if they didn’t wake up on their own) to feed him or her, just to keep them on the, that’s right, same schedule. However, I realized that this wasn’t the best way to waste an hour of my life at 3 am. So, I had to come up with a different plan and that’s when the boppy became my best friend.

I would take both kids to the couch, put one kid in the boppy on my lap with the head on my right thigh to feed with my left hand, and the other kid on the boppy on the couch directly next to my right thigh with her head closer to me and fed with right hand.

The only downside -- I became such a pro at this set up I often fell asleep in the middle of the feeding. And since I rarely noted what time it was when I got up to begin the feeding, I had no idea how long I was asleep. I guess it really didn’t matter, but it was very frustrating when I put the kids back into bed only to have them get up an hour later hungry again.

Then there were the feedings at 6 am-ish. Mama Bear would more times than not take these feedings. She was up already getting ready for work and she would knock out the feedings to help out.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this was a big help, but there was a big down side – Papa Bear wasn’t ready to get up yet and the kids often were. At first this wasn’t a huge problem, but as the kids got older and I started working until 1 am every night, it really became a problem for Papa Bear.

Mama Bear would put the kids in bed with me and turn on TV so they could watch whatever was on PBS or Disney Channel or Noggin while I slowly got going. It was great when the kids fell right back to sleep, but when they were really ready to get up, I paid the price.

Often times, Peanut Bear, more so than Junior Bear, would find my face absolutely fascinating. While I was trying to sleep, she would put her little fingers in my ears, eyes, mouth and nose (that’s right, my nose).

Does anyone have any idea how annoying it is to have someone else stick their fingers in your face, especially when you’re asleep? It was so annoying for the seriously sleep deprived Papa Bear.

Now that the kids are older, it’s nice to be sleeping through the night…well kind of. Next week, in Part 2 of this series I’ll talk about how sleeping can be considered a contact sport -- in our house at least.

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

4/30/09

Down But Not Out

I was planning on starting a series on sleep deprivation this week, but I am going to wait a week as I need to get something off my chest. It’s a fairly serious matter and if I wait any longer to tell anyone, it might just get worse.

See, I’m in an abusive relationship. That’s right people, Papa Bear is being abused. I just don’t know how to tear myself away from this horrible nightmare. Every time I think things are going to change, it just reverts back to the way it was. I stick around each and every time, thinking things will get better, but it doesn’t and actually gets worse and worse each time.

Now, before you start thinking that Mama Bear is beating me, or that the kids are unleashing on the Old Man, let me just say that’s not the case. See, Papa Bear continues to get abused by one of his first loves – the New York Mets.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “This guy is nuts. What the heck does he mean? It’s just baseball.” Well, for me it’s not just baseball. It’s more than that. It’s my original passion, one of my longest loves.

I understand that this isn’t your usual PBM Experience, but this is one of those topics that has molded me into what I am today and therefore fair game for The Memoirs. So deal with the rant.

First, let me tell you that as I write this the Mets are just 9-12, coming off a 3-3 homestand and heading into Philadelphia for a series with the Phillies. As you may remember, I am a long-suffering Mets fan living in the Philadelphia region, making this upcoming series even more painful for me.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into detail about everything that is bothering me about the Mets, but I am going to touch on some of it. So without hesitation, here we go:

This team is made up of a bunch of choke artists. The core of this team has choked away comfortable leads late in the season to miss the playoffs the last two years and the season prior to that choked in the playoffs. After the choke job two years ago, I felt this team should’ve been rebuilt, and when it wasn’t even after last season, I became irritated. Now, this year, this team can’t muster any late-inning magic or any kind of magic for that matter. Once this team falls behind they are done. It doesn’t matter if it’s late in the game or early in the game, once this team falls behind you can turn the TV off. This group has no guts, no heart. I’m sorry to say it, but this is how I feel at this time. I’m so freaking frustrated! Do you have any idea how hard it is to watch a game when you know your team is going to lose?!

Next…I really dislike Oliver Perez (I’m not going to say hate). The lefthander is a head case. One thing goes wrong in an outing, and he implodes. I didn’t think they should’ve re-signed him in the offseason, and instead signed a less expensive option like Randy Wolf. At least with Wolf you know what you’re going to get. Even in his bad starts he’ll gut out some innings. Perez folds like a lawn chair when things don’t go his way and the result is he taxes the bullpen and his teammates. I can’t stand him right now.
I want to believe in this team. I want to root for them. But when they show me absolutely nothing, it’s hard. Honestly, I feel like crying right now.

I could go on forever on this, but I have to move on and admit that I have issues. I’m trying to deal with them, but I fear I’m creating a monster and here’s why.

This past football season, after the Giants (my football team and by default Junior Bear’s team) fell behind to the Eagles in their playoff game; Junior Bear started screaming “Damn it.” I was so mad at the team I didn’t say anything to him.

Mama Bear, a bandwagon Eagles fan (the worst kind), told him to stop it. He didn’t and kept going. “Damn it. Damn it. Damn it,” he said over and over, daring her to do something with some real anger in his voice.

Mama Bear asked me, “Are you going to say anything to him? Tell him to stop maybe?”
I said, “Why? He’s right. They stink right now. He should be mad.”

Well, Junior Bear got sent to the naughty step and the Giants still lost.

I don’t know. I’m try to not let my teams’ results affect my moods, but it’s hard. To be honest, though, a little passion never hurts. I tell myself that it could be worse, because even though the lows are hard to deal with (see this year’s Mets as example), the highs are great (see Giants Super Bowl win versus Patriots two years ago as example).

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

4/26/09

When NeighBears Attack...

It was a harmless weekend in the Papa Bear household. Kids had a t-ball game on Saturday, Gamma and Pop Church came down to visit from north Jersey and Pop Doo Wop and I worked on the basement bathroom on Sunday.

The weather was wonderful all weekend and on Sunday before I resumed the bathroom project (Mama Bear thinks this is going to be done before Memorial Day, I beg to differ) I did some yard work. I’m trying desperately to grow grass in the yard, so I was planting some seed and then watering.

The kids, along with our NeighBear’s kids (we’ll call them Ry-Ry NeighBear and Bruiser NeighBear for now, I’ll have to get the official names from the parents), helped out. Ry-Ry is the age of Peanut and Junior, while Bruiser Bear is 2, is the height of a 5-year-old and has the strength of a 16-year-old. He is also my little buddy. Like everyone else, he loves The Papa Bear!!!

Anyway, they all helped me spread the seeds and then I let them water the lawn. First, I soaked them all and then let them go wild on each other.

That was until Ry-Ry Bear decided to get me. He gave me this look and I said, “He’s knows better then to get Papa Bear.”

He then smiled and skwirted away!

As he soaked me head to toe, I ran towards him, snatched the hose from him and got him back. Just as I was getting him, Mrs. NeighBear came home from the store and was laughing that he got me. I’m a good sport -- it was funny -- but I think I scared Ry-Ry Bear when I got him back. I think he thought I was mad at him, or he was just mad at me for getting him.

Either way, it reminded me of a time when I was finishing the basement. It was a late summer day and I was lugging drywall into the house all by myself.

Now, keep in mind this drywall trip was frustrating. I was at Home Depot for like an hour trying to get everything, as the people there are not very helpful. I had 10 sheets of drywall and at least three employees walked right past me and never offered to help, leaving me to pull it off the shelf, put into the cart, get off the cart and into my minivan all by myself.

It’s really amazing to me, because I’m trying to lug around all this heavy material, and Mama Bear goes there for light bulbs and gets offers for help at least four or five times.

Anyway, it was a hot humid day and I was sweating like a beast. I was carrying two sheets of drywall at a time over my head, into the house and then down the basement. Junior Bear, who was three at the time, for whatever reason had the hose. As I made my way with the last set of drywall, he saw my vulnerability (hands over my head, carrying something heavy and not able to move quickly) and he absolutely soaked me with the water, forcing me to move quickly and as a result, the drywall broke in two pieces over my head.

Mama Bear, who was standing on the porch watching, thought it was the funniest thing she ever saw, and while I stood there completely defeated, Junior Bear continued to soak me.

All those years home with him and his sister and this is the thanks I get. I hope he doesn’t think this is something I’m going to forget very easily.

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

4/24/09

T-Ball is Consuming My Time...

T-Ball took up a lot more of time this week than I thought it would and as a result the PBM takes a minor hit with no late-week content other than this. Kids had practice Wednesday night and game Thursday night and there is another game scheduled for Saturday.

So figured I'd take this chance to pass along a useful educational website that Mama Bear turned the kids onto called Fun Brain. It can be found at http://www.funbrain.com/. Junior Bear and Peanut Bear love the math baseball game and it's great that they are into it. Only problem is they want to play it every chance they get and that means fights -- rather disagreements -- in the morning when we are late to get to the bus stop.

Guess I can't have everything. At least the kids are into learning and if that means missing the bis once in a while and driving them to school, so be it.
Finally, if you're truly jonesing a PBM story, check out the archives and read away.

4/19/09

Parenting Can Be a Pain in the…

This past Thursday was set to be a big day in the Papa Bear household. Peanut Bear and Junior Bear (or Tank Bear as he is asking to be called now) were set to have their first t-ball game that night. In anticipation of the long night, Mama Bear and I made sure the kids got to sleep early the night before.

Thursday morning was a relatively easy one for me, at least at the start. The kids got up without much of a problem and we had a few minutes to spare before we had to leave for the bus. The kids enjoy it if they get ready early enough because they have a little time to play.

Anyway, on the way to the bus stop, Cookie Bear, who attends pre-school but walks with us to the bus stop every morning, caught her toe on the curb when running across the street and scrapped up her leg pretty good.

So, being the good dad that I am, I picked her up to comfort her. But as I lifted her I felt my back getting ready to pop. I told Cookie Bear I was going to have to put her down, hoping I could avoid in the inevitable, but as I bent to put her down – pop – there went my back.

Now anyone who has had any kind of back problem can attest that the ensuing moments after the pop are not very pleasant. As your back starts to spasm, the muscles put pressure on your lungs and it makes it very difficult to breathe.

At first I wanted to “man-up” and keep going. The moms from the neighborhood were about to ascend on us on their way to the bus stop and I didn’t want to look like something was wrong with me. But I could barely breathe, Cookie Bear was crying, and Peanut and Junior Bear, knowing daddy was not 100 percent, were like sharks and took full advantage of the situation, running full steam ahead. They actually ran, having a ball and not stopping once to help poor old dad (You can bet I’m going to remember that when their 16 and want to go to the movies).

I couldn’t yell for them to stop since I could barely breathe and the first mom was about to come out the door of her house right across the street. So, knowing I was going to have to fall to a knee to catch my breath anyway (see, this has happened numerous times before), I went to a knee, pulled Cookie Bear close and acted like I was tending to her scrapes even though all I could see were stars.

It was the only thing I could think of at the time. See, I’m the only father who regularly drops the kids off at the bus stop and I didn’t want to be the first one to fall to injury. That can be very embarrassing for a guy.

So, after a minute or so, I was able to catch my breath and get up. I was in extreme pain, but “manned up” long enough to make it to the bus stop, let Peanut and Junior Bear know I was upset with them and get back to the house.

The crappy part of everything is that you can’t let things like this interrupt your life when you have kids. I can remember when before we had kids and I first injured my back, I stayed in bed all day. Now, I can’t stay in bed no matter how much I want to because I have three other lives I have to look after.

IT’S NOT JUST MY BACK…

…that’s giving me problems. Remember reading about Papa Bear’s dirty little secret? Well, my fantasy baseball team is failing big time.

Through two full weeks in three different leagues, my teams are a combined 21-41. I get a chance to put together a team of the best players in Major League Baseball and I pick a group of guys that put me 20 games under .500 through two weeks!!! I don’t know if you know how bad that is?! It’s horrible, horrendous, embarrassing, disgraceful.

I dedicate hours of my life per weeks to this and this is the best I can do?! I mean, by the time I kick the bucket, I might have actually spent more time on fantasy teams than sleeping. It’s absolutely frustrating!

In my big money league, the league I spend most of time on, my team is 7-13. 7-13! I think I’m going to have to rethink my hobby and maybe get into something I’m actually good at.

OH YEAH…

Peanut Bear and Junior Bear were awesome at their t-ball game. They tied 24-24 as every kid gets to hit and as a result score since there is never an out made. Peanut Bear was very serious, asking to play pitcher to get into the action, while Junior Bear was practicing his “ninja” moves in the outfield. Can you tell who the competitive one is right now?

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

4/15/09

What Was I Thinking

You remember last week I talked about my trip to the Jersey Shore in the summer of 2008 with the three kids and no Mama Bear. Remember, the non-stop chatter about superheroes? Well, here’s the rest of that story.

It was Day 2 of our trip. Mama Bear wasn’t expected to join us for another day and Gamma and Pop Church had house cleaning to do. I just came off what felt like 24 hours of answering the same question over and over, but the weather was nice and it felt like a new day.

See, I’ve learned as a parent of three younglings you have to have some sort of short term memory loss to get by each day sane. If I let what drove me completely nuts the day before to continue to bother me the next day, you quickly lose your senses. I associate this to a closer in baseball; he can’t loom on what went wrong the day before when he blew the save. He needs to concentrate on the task at hand to try and succeed. The key is to learn from what went wrong and improve.

It’s that last part I’m not good at. I’m a little slow at learning.

Like a glutton for punishment, I took all three kids to the beach on my own. No parents, no friends – nobody. Just me, two 5-year-olds and a 3-year-old on an endless beach. A beach with lots of water. Lots of water and sand. Lots and lots of sand.

As soon as we got there, Peanut Bear wanted to run in the water, Junior Bear wanted to stay at the shoreline and play, and Cookie Bear…well she didn’t want to do anything but stay at the towels.

So here’s the scene: A beautiful late summer morning, Papa Bear who burns a shade of red never seen before even by a lobster and sweats like there’s no tomorrow, a girl (Peanut Bear) pulling on his left arm towards the shoreline, a boy (Junior Bear) with a hand full of sand that he’s trying to put down the back of Papa Bear’s swimsuit and a third child (Cookie Bear) 20 yards away at the towels screaming that she doesn’t want to go towards the water.

What was I thinking!?

I had to quickly turn the tables.

But how?

I had a flashback of an event that happened earlier in the summer with the twins and Pop Church (my dad), who I think intentionally sent me to the beach by myself as payback.

See, earlier that summer Mama Bear, he and my mom (Gamma) took the kids to an event at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. I was working the event, so couldn’t be there to help. At one point, Junior Bear and Peanut Bear got hungry and he agreed to take them to the concession stand.

Well, no sooner did he agree, Peanut Bear bolted out of the chair and ran up to the concourse. Junior Bear was close behind, and my dad was sweating to keep up. Needless to say the twins beat him to the top. Peanut Bear didn’t hesitate and made a left hand turn, disappearing out of sight. Junior Bear had a moment of hesitation and paused at the top. He looked left, then looked down at his Pop, probably thinking “I shouldn’t do what I’m about to do,” and then made a sprint to the right.

Flustered, my father threw it into a gear he hadn’t seen in decades. He ran after Junior Bear first since he was closer and then tracked down Peanut Bear. When he got them together he yelled like he hadn’t in years.

Pop Church: “That was bad! You never run away from me!”

I’m sure he added some other choice words to get the point across. He had every right too. That’s a scary thing. And only because everyone turned out okay, I can laugh at the next thing that happened.
Junior Bear, not happy he was being yelled at, immediately got mad at his Pop and said, “You’re not very nice.”

Well that sent my dad at a whole new level, a level that was later explained to me by Mama Bear as Phase Purple, because my dad turned purple yelling.

Anyway, back to the story (focus Papa Bear, focus).

I couldn’t go in the water. That was the absolute wrong answer -- that much I knew. So I let Junior Bear get me with the sand. He wasn’t going to stop until he got me. I then chased the twins up to Cookie Bear and buried them. I buried them all up to their heads and that’s how they all stayed until Gamma and Pop got there a few hours later. If they can’t move, they can’t cause problems, right?
No. I’m joking. I didn’t bury them up to their neck -- just to their waste. They got out and we had fun.
I am quickly learning that vacations aren’t relaxing anymore and I need a vacation from vacation.

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

If you liked this story, try the archives (located along the right-hand column) and find some other stories of a grown-up child trying to navigate through fatherhood.

4/8/09

I Must’ve Been Trippin’

It was late in the summer of 2008 and I was taking a two week vacation. Mama Bear had to report to school for a few days to prepare for the upcoming school year so I made plans to take the three kids down the Jersey Shore and meet my parents at their shore house.

The weekend prior, we had been to Ocean City, NJ for a 40th birthday party for my boss at the time. Well, in classic Papa Bear fashion, I had left a bag (or two) of our stuff at his house. I’m not totally convinced I am the one to blame for leaving the bags there, but Mama Bear insisted that she asked me to get the bags and I didn’t hear her. This has happened before so I can’t deny that that didn’t happen. Regardless, the kids and I had to make a stop.

Now the trip down the shore was my idea. I thought it would be great to give Mama Bear some time off before she had to go back to work and I thought it would be nice to enjoy the sunshine and water with the kids.

My son, Junior Bear, was at the beginning stages of his superhero phase at this point. And like I’ve probably said before, when Junior Bear gets into something, he jumps in with both feet and it becomes an obsession. By default, his sisters also get into whatever phase he’s in.

It took about two hours to get to Ocean City, and it was probably the longest two hours of that summer for me. I had to explain the story of Superman, Spiderman, and the Star Wars Jedi multiple times. Let me tell you that there are only so many times a grown man can explain these stories in one trip.

Junior Bear: “Where did Superman come from?”

Papa Bear: “Krypton.”

Junior Bear: “How does he get his powers?”

Papa Bear: “The yellow sun of earth.”

Peanut Bear: “Where did Superman come from?”

Papa Bear: “Krypton! I just said that.”

Junior Bear: “How did Spider-man get his powers?”

Papa Bear: “The yellow sun!”

Junior Bear: “No dad, Spider-man not Superman.”

Papa Bear: “Oh, he was bit by a spider.”

Peanut Bear: “Dad, how does Superman get his powers?”

Papa Bear: “The sun!”

Cookie Bear: “Are we there yet?”

Papa Bear: “No.”

Peanut Bear: “How much longer?”…

I think you get the point. It was rapid fire on Papa Bear. I mean, I had to tell the stories at least 100 times (at least it felt that way) and it got to the point where I was just trying to end the conversations by pleading ignorance.

But as I painfully learned that doesn’t work. See, Peanut Bear thinks she can get to the answer by just emphasizing a different word in the question.

Junior Bear: “Dad, how do Jedi get their powers?”

Papa Bear: “I don’t know.”

Peanut Bear: “No, dad; How do Jedi get their powers?”

Papa Bear: “I don’t know!”

Peanut Bear: “No, no, Dad; How do Jedi get their powers?”

Papa Bear: “I heard the question. I just don’t know.”

Peanut Bear: “Dad, dad, dad, listen to me. How do Jedi get their powers?”

Thinking back it would’ve been easier to just answer the question the first time.

I think I had a boss like this once. Although at least he had the creativity to ask the same question three different ways.

By the time we got to my boss’ place (by the way, he wasn’t the boss who asked the same question a ton of times), I was ready to stick a fork in my eye. I’m sure many of you parents feel my pain. See, Mama Bear rarely has this trouble with the kids. She has an unbelievable way with them. She can get them to do anything she wants, similar to what a Jedi could do. Me, on the other hand, I’m more like Han Solo, no special powers and I usually resort to banging things to try and fix them (some might even call me Jar-Jar Binks). As a matter a fact, the kids have a way of getting me to do whatever they want. I’m like their little puppet.

But fortunately for me, when we arrived my boss was game for the superhero talk. He had Junior Bear engaged for quite awhile. He even introduced a few new superheroes to him, which was great until the ride from his place to our place when I had to answer those questions.

“Who’s the Hulk again?...How did he get his powers?...Where does the Hulk live?...”

Ahhhh!!!!

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

If you liked this story, try the archives (located along the right-hand column) and find some other stories of a grown-up child trying to navigate through fatherhood.

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4/5/09

Baseball’s Back; PBM Making a Donation

It’s Sunday night and I’m excited that the baseball season has finally started again. I absolutely love watching baseball. I know I’m probably in the minority here, as many don’t like the slow pace of the game, but I really enjoy the sport.

There are a number of reasons why I like watching baseball, but it wasn’t until last year that I came to find the biggest reason why – Junior Bear likes watching games with me.

He sneaks out of bed, comes down and watches a few innings with me. It is fun for me because he asks me a ton of questions (mostly baseball, but some other questions as well) and it turns into a real bonding experience for us. I’m not kidding myself here, I understand why he comes down – he’s not ready to go to bed and knows that if he acts interested I’ll let him stay up longer. But that’s okay with me.

This also means the start of fantasy baseball season as well. I had my draft last Sunday and think I came out with an average team. But here are some of the players I’ll be pulling for (or cursing out) for at least the start of the season. Chase Utley, Mark Teixeira, Dan Haren, Carlos Lee, Mike Pelfrey, Lastings Milledge, Denard Span, Stephen Drew, Chone Figgins and a bunch of others.

I have two other teams, but won’t bore you with all 50-plus players I will be rooting for as the season begins.

I think it will only be a matter of time before I have Junior Bear making roster moves for me. He actually asked if he could have his own team after seeing the Alyssa Milano fantasy baseball commercial on ESPN.

Finally, Titi Bear (my sister) is taking part in Revlon Run/Walk for Women, a charity event to raise money and awareness for women’s cancer. If you are so inclined, you can make a donation to her personal page by clicking here.

The Papa Bear Memoirs will also be donating any and all money raised through the site’s advertising from March and through April to her for the event. Since I’m just learning all this blog advertising, I’m not really sure how much money will be raised this way, but every little bit helps.

So, if you’re on the site right now, make sure you click on the Google Adsense ads that are at the bottom of each of the first three entries to see if you’re interested in purchasing something. I do think that the site makes money for just clicking on the ad as well. Also, if you’re planning a vacation, need life insurance, have been procrastinating on your taxes or need an auto part, please check out the other ads on this page.

4/3/09


Hey Papa Bear Memoirs fans, check out my guest blog at Gina Chen's Family Life blog at the Syracuse Post-Standard. Gina is excellent at following, informing and educating her readers on family/parenting news and much more. She also touches on a number of other aspects and you should check her out at http://blog.syracuse.com/family/ . The guest blog can be found by clicking the picture above. ~Enjoy.

4/2/09

3 Kids, 1 Guy And A Doctor's Office

Earlier this week I mentioned Cookie Bear and I were feeling under the weather. Well, the next day Mama Bear and I decided it was best to take her and Junior Bear, who has a swollen toe, to the doctor. I also kept Peanut Bear home from school that day, because she was showing the same symptoms I had, so thought it was best to take her as well.

Crazy, right?

Three kids, one parent and a doctor’s office. So much could go wrong.

But little did. Why? Because Papa Bear is an old pro at this – not because I’m perfect, but because I learn from my mistakes.

See, in my four-plus years of playing Daytime Daddy, I became quite the regular at the pediatrician’s office.

I took the kids there for everything. In addition to the regular check-ups, if I heard a cough, saw a runny nose or diaper rash, anything and everything, I was there. I have been there so much the receptionist just puts our files on the top of the desk once we walk in (I don’t know if that’s because she likes us or because she figures the quicker we get signed in the quicker we get out of there).

Anyway, being home during the day, I had the pleasure (some might say misfortune) to be the one to take the kids to most of their scheduled checkups, unless of course Mama Bear was home for the summer and then I’d let her go (yeah right, I let her).

The couple of years taking the twins was not an easy task. At first, I had no idea what to expect when going to the doctor’s office with kids. I thought all I had to do was bring…well, the kids. Right? Simple, I thought. What else could I possibly need? It was a doctor’s office.

Boy was I wrong!

After I waited over an hour during my first solo visit I realized it would be a good idea to bring some “supplies” with me the next time. I learned that just because they’re a pediatrician doesn’t make them anymore on schedule than a regular family doctor. Diapers, toys, bottles, all would have been helpful – especially the bottles.

So, from then on out I packed like I was going on a week’s long vacation. I brought, bottles (with water), formula (in the canister that you already have the portions divided), snacks (like Cheerios), toys (those teething kind came in handy); three diapers each, band-aids, a change of clothes and much, much more. Mama Bear thought I was nuts.

Packing was the easy part. The travel was a completely different story. Assuming I left the house on time, I would haul two baby carriers and a full diaper bag through the parking lot (because why should the door be close to parking?), up a flight of stairs (why should the doctor’s office be on the first floor?) and then wait, and wait, and wait, until we got called back to the office to wait, and wait again.

Now this could be physically draining, but I would soon find that this was nothing compared to bringing two toddlers to the doctor’s office.

Have you ever tried to do anything with a toddler? If you have multiple that by two and then imagine you’re a dad. The result? A mess.

Here is an excerpt of my first visit to the doctor’s office with Junior Bear and Peanut Bear when they were almost two years old (Keep in mind, this is just my side. I honestly can’t remember if the kids were talking, but as you will see it doesn't really matter if they were talking):

Nurse: You’ll be in room 8.

Papa Bear: Thanks…

Hey, over here!

Junior, Peanut not that room. This one!

After chasing them down the hall, we backtrack and get in the room…

Okay, guys just sit down…No. Not there. Over here…No! Not on that chair. It rolls and spins, you’ll get hurt…Here. Sit here. No! NOT ON THAT CHAIR!!!...Fine, fine. I’ll spin you once. Okay, okay, I’ll spin you too. Then you have to sit down…Okay, that’s it. No! That’s enough!...Peanut, stop the spinning!...I hear something behind me…Junior! Get out of the trash can. That’s dirty…I get him and while I’m wiping him down…Peanut! Enough with that chair!...Fine. One more spin and then we’re done…I put him down and go to her…Junior! Pleeease get out of the trash can!!... Turning around I notice something else….Peanut! Stop climbing up the drawers!...You’d think a pediatrician’s office would be kid proofed..Quick Papa Bear, think of something…Here, you look at this hammer thing. You look at this flat stick…Watch, sit here…Stop ripping the paper! No you can’t jump, and you please let go of that! (the thing doctors look in your mouth, ears and eyes with)… Sit down PLEASE!!!...Finally get them down and tap their knees…Okay, here. Just tap your knee. No! Don’t hit him with it. Stop it!...He starts crying...Give that to me now…AAAHHHHH!!!!!

Knock, knock

Doc: Hellooo. Looks like Daddy has his hands full.

Anyway, I think you get the idea. I still have nightmares about that, but I learned something from that visit -- bring crayons and coloring books. Those two things have been packed for every visit since.

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3/30/09

Spring Bug Has Hit The House

I’m only going to quickly check in early this week. Usually, my first post of the week is up and getting reaction (or ignored) by this time, but after a long weekend it appears some kind of bug has hit the household.

I feel lousy and Cookie Bear has a fever, meaning it’s only a matter of time before Mama Bear, Junior Bear and Peanut Bear come down with the illness. Lucky us! Got to love how a bug travels through a house with such disregard for everyone, taking down anything and everything in its path.

Anyway, I wanted to fill you in on the first T-ball practice for Peanut Bear and Junior Bear. It went really.

Of course, like many parents, we had to deal with the kids’ anxiety. Junior Bear’s nerves hit him prior to the start as he was nervous to go, while Peanut’s hit her during the practice as she wanted to leave in the middle of an at-bat. So, there was a lot for me to overcome since Mama Bear wasn’t there. Nana managed to come for assistance, but she was busy with Cookie Bear.

The highlight, or lowlight depending on who you are, was when Peanut Bear stepped to the plate and tried to “grip it and rip it.” Only problem was she failed to “grip it” and nearly took off the third baseman’s head when she let the bat fly.

Everyone got a laugh from it, except Peanut Bear, who does not like to be the center of attention. I had to talk her off the cliff after that as she was very embarrassed by the incident. She managed to get over it much later in the day (when Mama Bear actually talked her off the cliff) and is ready for her next practice.

Anyway, off to overdose on cough medicine and hit the sack.

3/25/09

Dad, Beware of Children

Warning: This material might not be suitable for all readers. If you’re thinking of having kids, trying to have kids or one day want to have kids; please stop reading here. The material in this post may deter you from wanting offspring. If you are already a parent of young children, I’m sorry…

When I think of what Hell would be like, I think of the time period of my life from August 2005 until about December 2007. Those two-plus years seem like a lifetime away to me now, yet at the time they felt like an eternity to live though.

Now, before I go any further I’m going to tell you that I love my children to death. BUT when they become teenagers and they argue with me about why I’m not allowing them to do a certain something, I’m telling them it’s payback for what they put me through during this time period.

Let’s set the stage for you: In August 2003 Cookie Bear was born and Junior Bear and Peanut Bear were just turning 2 years old (they are twins). I was playing Daytime Daddy, working mostly nights (usually until about 1 am) and then getting up at the crack of dawn to take care of the trio (so that’s about five hours of sleep per night). The twins were napping just once a day by this point and I was trying to find any moment I could to catch cat naps.

I’m sure you could imagine what it is like to watch after two very active 2-year-olds. Then, throw a newborn into the mix and it had this dad begging for mercy (or for at least multiple shots of whatever whiskey was in the house, unfortunately there wasn’t any).

Needless to say, this time period was by far the toughest of my life.

Anyway, it wasn’t too long after Mama Bear went back to work, I decided to try and take the three kids out to run some errands. However, I quickly learned that stores like Target, Wal-Mart, CVS and the local supermarket weren’t meant for people to shop at when outnumbered 3-to-1 by the younger species.

At first, I tried. I really did. But on my first trip I learned that the stroller wasn’t going to work, because I couldn’t push a stroller and a shopping cart at the same time. And the stroller could fit only so much into it. So, that idea failed (not the first time one of my great fatherly ideas failed, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last either).

So, my next option was trying to find a shopping cart with the two seats at the top to put the twins side-by-side and Cookie Bear in the basket in the baby carrier. However, half way through my first trip like that, I realized there were only so many canned goods you could put on a newborn before someone would call the cops.

I joke, nobody called the cops. I’m a little smarter than that.

Then, I tried keeping Cookie Bear in the carrier and putting her at the top of the cart and allowing Junior Bear and Peanut Bear to “help” me shop. Before I even get into how quickly I realized that didn’t work, let me tell you it’s not easy chasing two 2-year-olds through a busy parking lot.

So, after all of this I came to the realization that I was going to be held up in the house for a good long time.
I did find some creative ways for a juvenile father to entertain himself with three kids, but that’s a blog for another day. Right now I’m sharing with you the “creative fun” three kids had with a juvenile father.

Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I would get out of the house during the day, but that was just three times per week when I would drop Junior and Peanut Bear off at a local daycare school.

See, Mama Bear thought it would be good for them to interact with other young kids their age for a couple hours. Easy for Mama Bear to say, it might have been a good time for the kids, but not so much for Papa Bear.

When I went to pick the kids up it was total chaos. I mean total and complete chaos. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It was the blind leading the blind.

I would walk in carrying Cookie Bear in the baby carrier, and once I got into the classroom door I would get bombarded by a bunch of runny-nosed 2-year-olds. And when I say a bunch, I mean 10-15 easy. Every kid in the classroom came at me. I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop.

There were a few times I managed to keep Cookie Bear snot free, but there was always, and I mean ALWAYS, another obstacle to overcome. It was never an easy time getting them to and from school.

When I went to pick them up, as soon as I opened the door to let them out, all heck broke loose. Peanut Bear would run down one hallway and Junior Bear would shoot the other way. I would then have to, quickly put Cookie Bear back inside the classroom and chase after the other two.

After I caught up with them and got Cookie Bear back (now full of boogies I should add), it would take some creative thinking to get each jacket on without another track meet breaking out.

Honest to God, I don’t know how I did it. Whatever trick worked one day, wouldn’t work the next. I felt like some magician playing to the same audience every day, having to always find a different way to pull the same rabbit out of a hat everyday just to keep their attention.

Trust me when I say, that if you asked me when I was 25 what I’s be doing when I was 30, it would not be playing “playing peek-a-boo in a public place with three kids.”

Anyway, IF I got the jackets on the kids (sometimes I would have to pick and choose my battles and give up on the jackets), they would both want to be picked up and carried to the car. Of course just five minutes earlier they wanted to run; now they want to be picked up.

Why?

I have no idea. It’s just the way it was.

But I couldn’t carry both; I was already carrying Cookie Bear in the baby carrier. So I’d have to pick one (usually the one making the biggest fuss) and the other would then either decide to sit down in protest, leaving me there, sweating (literally sweating bullets like some idiot) while I struggled to carry a 2-year-old in one hand and a baby carrier in the other. Or -- get this -- the other one would run, and I mean shot-out-of-the-cannon run, straight for the front door, again making me sweat to catch up.

Let me tell you that this can wear on a grown man. I can’t count how many times I just wanted to start cursing at the top of my lungs.

This was my routine every other day of my life for about six months (that’s when we realized the twins weren’t getting anything special out of the daycare and it was just driving us – I should say me -- nuts).

It only got better when the Peanut Bear and Junior Bear hit preschool the next school year.

Picture this: Cookie Bear’s a year old and too big for the baby carrier; Junior Bear is a tank and Peanut Bear is the boss. (Did I mention I have multiple bosses in my life?)

Anyway, I go to pick up the twins from preschool and Junior Bear takes off down the hall screaming Daddy, yet running away from me (go figure), Cookie Bear is struggling to get out of my arms to play with the same toy Junior Bear just left behind, and Peanut Bear is crying at the top of her lungs that she has to leave.

That, my friends, was my life four days a week for nearly a year. An entire school year!

I bring up this absolute chaos because the other day after I dropped Cookie Bear off at preschool, I saw a mom going through the same thing. Her arms full with a newborn, an older child sprinting ahead of her, and a middle child begging her to pick him up. Not more than 3 ½ years separating the three children.

As she was sweating and holding back what I’m sure were the same curse words I was holding back, I, who am like a pro with one kid, said to her, “Boy, I don’t miss those days!” She shot me a smile, but I knew she was crying inside.

I left that place skipping, knowing those days are over for me!

Look, I understand that there will be plenty of other challenges that lay ahead of me in parenting, but as long as I don’t have to chase after anymore toddlers, I’ll be a happy camper!

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

3/22/09

What A Weekend

It was a busy weekend for the Papa Bear clan as we attended my brother’s engagement party on Saturday night at Gamma and Pop Church’s house in north Jersey and then had to travel back to suburban Philadelphia Sunday to get ready for the week.

Saturday night went really well with the kids. I was talking to Mama Bear on the drive home Sunday about how proud I was of them. See, in the past gatherings like this were very difficult for us. Junior Bear and Peanut Bear, who are twins, would usually be acting up and Cookie Bear would be very clingy.

However, on Saturday night the twins were very well behaved and Cookie Bear was excellent. As many of you parents may know, it can be extremely difficult to enjoy yourself and a gathering like this, because you are constantly chasing the kids around or they are literally hanging on you (I mean pulling on both my arms at the same time) the entire time.

But on this night there was a complete transformation by the kids. They were social with the other side of the family, they were able to entertain themselves and they were very well behaved. It's amazing to see when kids hit certain maturity levels. Obvioiusly, I know their not adults yet, but this was a breath of fresh air.

There was a brief moment when Junior Bear decided to become the focus of the party, as he started to tell his dirty diaper jokes and was forcing himself to burp, but it was short lived and honestly (for me) very entertaining.

Now let me explain to you that Junior Bear is in kindergarten and currently, for whatever reason, dirty diapers are very funny to him. In case you are wondering what his dirty diaper jokes are like, here’s an example:

Junior Bear: Knock-knock

Papa Bear: Who’s there?

Junior Bear: Diaper

Papa Bear: Diaper who?

Junior Bear: Diaper dirty diaper (followed by hysterical laughter)

Of course there was the moment Saturday night when gifts were being opened and for whatever reason there was a collective silence and he rips off the loudest burp he has ever released. I was actually surprised that his dinner didn’t follow it up.

Right now he is also his biggest fan. Every time he says something he thinks is funny, he follows it up with hysterical laughter. Honestly, though, I think he gets that from me.

Oh yeah, one other thing. Junior Bear cleaned up at Wii tennis Saturday night as well. He put the smack down on Mama Bear a number of times (Mama Bear is really bad) and also beat his cousin, uncle and Peanut Bear.

It really was Junior Bear’s weekend.

Papa Bear’s Tourney Pool…
As you know, I am addicted to everything sports, so it’s no surprise I’m in a few college basketball pools. I got off to a great start on Thursday, the first day of the tournament, going 15-of-16, but everything fell apart after that. I lost an Elite Eight team on Friday in West Virginia and once you lose an Elite Eight team in the first round you can basically mail it in.

The weekend didn’t get any better for me and I am now looking forward to my first fantasy baseball draft, which will be on Wednesday night.

3/18/09

A Cut Below


It can be very tiring with newborns. I don’t think I’m breaking any news when I tell you that. But imagine being in my shoes when Mama Bear pushes out a set of twins for our first children. Double freakin’ exhausting is putting it kindly.

It was shortly after my wife went back to work following her maternity leave. Junior Bear and Peanut Bear were probably only a few months old. I was playing stay-at-home Dad at that point (remember I was laid off just a few weeks after Mama Bear gave birth) and would also get up in the middle of the night for one of their two feedings (I usually took the 3 or 4 am feeding since Mama Bear was going to get up in a few hours to start her day).

This lack of sleep can really wreak havoc on a person, and I was no exception. We were feeding every three hours, the kids weren’t really sleeping through the night and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. I barely got out of the house and when I did I was hauling two baby carriers with me all over the place. It was really a trying time.

One day I was able to shake the kids and I went to the Hair Cuttery for a trim. If memory serves me right, it was a Saturday and Mama Bear stayed back with the kids.
I’m not going to lie when I say it’s nice to get out of the house by yourself every once in a while when you’re the primary daytime caregiver. It kind of gives you a chance to catch your breath.

Anyway, you know how this type of hair cut place works; you give your name and then wait for a stylist to come call your name. It’s kind of like the lottery in that you know who gives the good hair cuts at the place and who doesn’t just by looking at them and you are hoping and praying you don’t get called by someone who is going to butcher you.

So, I give my name and wait, hoping I don’t get the person who is going to screw up my hair. As I am sitting there, I am starting to fall asleep as I was exhausted. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. I was trying everything I could to stay awake, going as far as looking through the only magazine left, Oprah (or some magazine that is not supposed to be read by any self-respecting male).

Anyway, I finally get called up and the woman who was cutting my hair was someone I had gotten before. She did a good job the prior times, so I was glad to get her.

I slowly get up from my seat in the waiting area and work my way back to the chair. I plop down and she asks me if I would you like a wash first. I say sure and she takes me back to wash my hair.
Now, as you know this can be completely relaxing. I think at one point my leg jerked as I began to fall asleep. I quickly woke up and pretended like it never happened.

After she was finished I went back to the chair and immediately fell into a trance. See, I’m not -- let me repeat NOT -- the kind of guy who likes to chit-chat when getting my hair cut. I want the person who is cutting my hair to concentrate on the task at hand. There is no need to distract him or her. One slip up and all of a sudden I’m looking like Telly Savalas. So, once I sat down I almost immediately shut myself off.

As I’m sitting there I hear her say to me, “You remind me of Gary.”

So thinking I missed part of the conversation, I give a little giggle to play it off like I knew what she was talking about I reply, “Okay.”

She gives me somewhat of a dirty look, but I’m too tired to even care what she’s thinking.

Fast forward a few minutes and I’m at the register paying. She hands me the receipt and at the bottom it reads her name and it’s at this point I realized what she said to me earlier. She didn’t say, “You remind me of Gary.” She said, “My name is Mary.”

I was so tired I responded to someone introducing themselves to me with “Okay.”

I said Okay! I might as well have said to her, I don’t care who you are.

I couldn’t believe it. I was too embarrassed to say anything to her at this point. So I just paid, left her a tip, bolted out of there and never went back.

I began going to a different Hair Cuttery after that, but I do remember seeing her at the super market a week or so later and I again got a dirty look.