Dear Holly: You’re Zero Percent Tomboy, Despite Having a Brother Who Could Easily Turn You into One

1 year, 4 months.

Dear Holly,

As I took some pictures of you and your brother before church on Sunday, I couldn’t help but notice the obvious visible contrast as the two of you stood next to one another:

You are all girl and your brother is all boy. I have one of each.

And I didn’t have to teach either of you to be that way, either.

Over the past couple of months, you have demonstrated how you always just instantly know what to do when Mommy presents you with a new pair of shoes or a new shoes.

You instinctively know how to walk across the room with a pretty smile on your face, assuming that the whole world is watching you.

Meanwhile, your brother is typically up to something to counteract your graceful moves; whether it’s trying to slap your leg with a sticky stretchy hand he got from the treasure box at school, or simply serving as an off-beat commentator in the beauty pageant you’re pretending to be in, as he speaks in an exaggerated Southern accent:

“Ah, how sweet! Look at little precious baby girl! I think she just pooped in her pants… isn’t that so precious?! She’s a little tin man. She’s just made out of metal. So precious!”

Sure, you may develop a natural interest in Pokemon cards, as your brother has already told me he’ll give you some of his cards once you get a little older.

And sure, you’re used to him wrestling with you and playing a little too rough with you, on a daily basis.

Yet still, you are one girly girl. You just have no chance of ever being a tomboy.

I’m sure it doesn’t help, the way I treat you…

The way you just cling onto me as I carry you around the house, constantly confirming what a sweet little girl you are.

Yeah, I guess you just don’t stand a chance at being anything other than a Daddy’s Girl.

At least, that’s what I hope!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: You’re Back from Summer Vacation 2017 at Nonna and Papa’s

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

This has been the longest amount of time that Mommy and I have spent without you; 10 whole days!

Obviously, we called you on video phone at least once a day, thanks to Facebook messenger. That way, CIA members in Hawaii were also able to catch up on all you’ve done while spending your summer vacation in Alabama.

I say that jokingly (?) because Mommy and I went through the trouble of renting some movies from Redbox while you were gone; Snowden being one of them.

Yes, it was much quieter without you in our house for 10 days, but I have to say, it wasn’t as good. Mommy and I are too accustomed to having a 6 year-old expert inform us of little known facts about dinosaurs and Pokemon.

And obviously, your baby sister kept looking for you the whole time. She kept pointing to your pictures on the wall, doing her best to pronounce your name.

But finally, you got back a week ago and now we can get back to the norm. We missed our little boy!

Speaking of Facebook, Nonna was faithful to keep us posted every couple of hours on whatever fun thing that she and Papa were taking you to do. It became obvious quick that you were not simply just hanging out at their house. No, you were on the move!

You went hiking, to a splash pad, to scrap yard, and to see The Emoji Movie; just to name a few!

Of course, you loved being able to spend time playing with your cousins the whole time as well.

And now the summer has officially come to a close. A week ago you started 1st grade!

Yes, you are now our brilliant 1st grader son. First grade is going to be great.

Love,

Daddy

A Parent’s Guide To Smartphones (By Guest Blogger, Digital Doc)

Let’s face it … it’s a smartphone world today, and your kids are living in it. Phones are everywhere — in pockets and purses, and in parents’ hands whether they’re on the go or relaxing at home. Kids see this, and are naturally curious.

Nowadays, children as young as toddlers (sometimes babies) can recognize and reach for phones — after all, they mimic adult behavior. So in this kind of technology-centric culture, it only makes sense that as kids get older they want phones of their own. What does this mean for you as a parent? Here’s a look.

Questions Parents Tend to Ask About Smartphone Use

The minute your child holds a phone in his or her fingers, the questions start:

· What are the pros and cons of phones for kids?

· How do you know when your child is ready for a phone?

· Are there serious risks you should be aware of ahead of time?

· If you get your children phones, what safety and security measures should you practice?

· Are there rules that can be useful?

· How do you monitor usage?

Do these questions sound familiar to you as a parent? If so, you’re not alone. These are just some of the issues parents think about as they monitor smartphone usage for their children.

Pros and Cons of Smartphone Use for Children

As with so many difficult parenting decisions, there is no one right or wrong answer for all children. A good place to start, however, in thinking through the choice to give your kid a phone is in understanding the pros and cons. With that in mind, here are a few points to consider:

· Smartphones expand the world for your child.

· They put information at their fingertips.

· Smartphones make it easy to get in touch if you’re separated.

· Smartphones also open your child to risks such as cyberbullying, viruses, child predators, sexual content, violent content, etc.

To get a better idea of how to plan for and manage your children’s smartphone use, check out the link below fora slideshow, which details tips for setting rules, monitoring behavior, and other helpful tips!

Dear Holly: Your Attempt to Figure Out the Sprinkler in the Backyard (and Why Your Brother Had a Bucket on His Head)

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

Here we are in the scorching heat of July in Nashville. There’s not much we can do, as a family, outdoors right now. But when Mommy took your brother with her to buy groceries on Saturday morning while you and I stayed home and played, she bought him a $5 sprinkler for our water hose.

The original plan was just for Jack to run through the sprinkler while Mommy supervised outside on the back porch. But after just a few minutes, you began grunting and nodding your head towards the back door.

Translation: “Daddy, aren’t you going to take me outside?”

You didn’t even notice the intense 91 degree weather. You were just fascinated by watching your brother jump through the water.

So Mommy helped you get a closer look, holding you up high to where you wouldn’t really get too wet. That’s when your brother, who assumed his role of entertainer, placed a bucket on top of his head and started dancing around.

I’m trying to imagine how you were processing what was going on, as the 15 month-old little girl you are…

It’s scorching hot. Let’s go outside!

And now big brother is dancing in the water with a bucket on his head.

I assume that this event ultimately gets translated in your brain as “completely normal event.”

That’s something I tend to think about- how everything you see our family do, even if you forget about it an hour later, is ultimately hard-wiring your thought process as to what are the norms of society.

However, I have found that you actually do remember more than I would expect you to. Just little things, like when we were reading a book together that had a picture of a cartoon lizard on it.

I said, “Holly… lizard!” Then I made a silly noise by sticking my tongue out again and again, which sounded like, “bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

A few days later when you pointed to the book for us to read again, you placed your finger on the lizard and immediately made the sound: “Bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

You looked up to me for immediate approval, as you smiled so big, which translated as, “Daddy, that’s the sound I’m supposed to make when I see the lizard, right? Aren’t you proud of me for remembering?”

What’s funny is, I had forgotten I had even made that sound the last time we had read the book. But now, every time we read it, you make that silly lizard noise that I accidentally taught you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You are Now Asking Me Questions about Baptism

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

As your Daddy, I have to always be ready for serious, sincere questions; especially at times when I would least expect. That definitely was the case as we were driving back from the movies last Sunday.

Completely unrelated to our conversation discussing your favorite part of the movie, basically out of nowhere, you asked me this: “Daddy, will we see your Grandma in Heaven?”

That set up the next question, “Daddy, what will Heaven be like?”

And that led to, “Will we see Jesus in Heaven?”

Then, “If Jesus is God, then are they one person or two?”

And then, “Does a person have to be baptized to go to Heaven?”

That last question is the one you’ve been bringing up daily, since then. Last night, after we read your children’s Bible story about King Hezekiah (which actually was very interesting, and one that I wasn’t really familiar with), you asked me again about Heaven and baptism.

I have been explaining to you that being baptized is how we let everyone know that we believe Jesus is God’s son and that we trust in Him and thank Him for all we have in life. To answer your question, I pointed out that Jesus promised the dying thief on the cross next to Him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”. However, any other time in the Bible a person believed in Jesus, they always got baptized afterwards.

For you, believing is the easy part.

It’s funny because for us, one of the ways we bond is when you show me your newest Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards you traded that day at school. Some of the characters are called “gods”, yet you always immediately point out that there are false gods, like the idols people made in the Bible.

You always separate the “idols and false gods” from our God. I am truly impressed with your ability, as an almost 1st grader, to process that concept.

So whereas believing is the easy part, right now you are sorting out the details- the main one being this:

“Daddy, how long do I have to go underwater to get baptized?”

Turns out, you asked Mommy these same questions about baptism and Heaven, right after I left your bedroom last night, when she came in to say goodnight.

Now Mommy and I are planning to let you go to “big church” the next time they have a baptismal service; and take you to the front row so you can see exactly how it works.

It is an honor to teach you these things. I don’t want to rush you through your ongoing journey in the Christian faith. Instead, it’s important to me that you understand at your own pace, paced on my consistent guidance.

I simply have been sowing the seeds, by reading your stories from the children’s story Bible that my Grandma gave me 29 years ago. And you truly enjoy going to church, learning aside from we read together.

This is big stuff.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You’re Growing Up Faster (in My Mind) than Your Brother Did

1 year, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend Mommy and I were talking about just how quickly it seems like you’re growing up. Now that you’re confidently walking everywhere, it seems like the crawling stage was so short lived for you.

One theory we came up with is that with your brother, Mommy and I were clueless, being first time parents. The whole process was an ongoing learning curve that really didn’t slow down until your brother was around 3 years-old.

But he’s 6 and a half now. Not a whole lot has changed in his development and the way we have parented him in the past 3 years. We’ve basically been on autopilot, to some degree, for the 2nd half of his life.

So when you showed up over a year ago, Mommy and I already had previous experience to use as a guideline. I think just that alone makes it so much easier to raise you during these younger years.

But it also has a perceived effect in which it seems like you’re growing up faster than your brother did. Similarly, I’ve been telling Mommy how, from the beginning, it’s been easier for me to emotionally connect to you than it was for me to connect to your brother.

Actually, I specifically remember your brother being 15 months-old before I felt like more than a shadow to him. But with you, I’ve always felt you’ve acknowledged me. (You’ll be 15 months old in a few days, by the way.)

You’re always excited to see me when I get home from work. You recognize that I’m fun to be around. With your brother, I was nothing if Mommy was in the room too.

Maybe that instant connection I’ve had with you is something to do with this being my second time around as a parent- and that naturally, I am providing a more natural and accommodating environment for you; as compared to how I was with your brother when he was your age.

Either way, I’m glad you like me so much!

Love,

Daddy

The Bondaroo by Dadware: A Skin-to-Skin Bonding Shirt for Dads with Their Infant

One of the fun perks of being a daddy blogger is receiving new products from companies, as they cleverly use my platform as a way to get the word out about their goods. Typically when I receive these types of inquiries, my response is, “Sure! Send it my way.”

And that’s what brings us to today’s blog post. Yes, as you can see, I am modelling The Bondaroo by Dadware for you. It’s a really soft polo style shirt with a Velcro opening to place your infant, which allows for skin-to-skin bonding.

This is to not only to promote the release of Vasopressin and Oxytocin hormones in Dad and baby, but also to help boost the immune system in newborns.

Obviously, at 14 months old, my baby daughter Holly is no longer a newborn. Instead, she’s walking now. For what it’s worth though, I attempted to “capture” her in my Bondaroo as I hovered down over her as she was playing on the floor, but my plan was unsuccessful. She just resisted and escaped.

So instead, I decided to use her stunt double, Dolly, who is the size Holly was a year ago.

 

Of course, my soon-to-be a 1st grader son also agreed to help me show how the Bondaroo works; even though, like his sister, he’s a little too tall and mobile for the product.

Obviously, the Bondaroo is a way for newborns (not 6 year-olds, 1 year-olds, or dolls) to bond with their father. I think it’s a really cool idea. So forgive me for not being able to properly model how this product works, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Also, if you’re thinking about getting a Bondaroo for a soon-to-be dad, I recommend buying one size larger than he actually is.

I’m 5’ 9” and 160 pounds; I always wear size large for my shirts. However, they sent me an XL instead. I’m glad they did, because it fit the exactly the same way a size large shirt from Gap fits me.

Thanks for sharing in this learning experience with me about The Bondaroo by Dadware.