Dear Jack: We’ve Been Snowed in for a Week Now, Technically

7 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

It’s now been a week since you’ve been to school. This is like Christmas vacation again, but with snow… and without all the presents.

A week ago we were informed that your school was going to be closed due to the chance of a blizzard the next day on Friday. Knowing you were also going to be off from school the following Monday for Martin Luther King Day, I mentioned to Mommy at dinner:

“Let me throw a crazy idea at you…”

She stopped me, as she had instantly read my mind:

I took you and your sister to Alabama so we could stay at Nonna and Papa’s house for a 4 day weekend, while Mommy stayed back in Tennessee to get caught up on work.

You and your sister got plenty of quality time with your grandparents; meanwhile, I got a little bit more caught up on one of my most coveted commodities: Sleep!

It was so rewarding to just head upstairs and sleep for 2 or 3 hours, knowing you and your sister were being taken care of.

And it turns out, it didn’t actually snow while we were gone.

But sure enough, on Tuesday, when you were supposed to go back to school, that’s when the mini blizzard actually arrived.

Our family has been snowed since then.

Hopefully, the roads will be cleared up enough for you to return to school tomorrow, which is Friday. At that point, it will have been a solid week without you going to school. Even then, you will just be there for one day and then it’s the weekend again.

You and I did get a couple chances to enjoy the snow outside, while Mommy stayed inside with your sister. But even then, the temperature has remained around 9 degrees most of this week, so we couldn’t stay outside all that long.

What an interesting week.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: Your Surprise Christmas Gift Arrived in the Mail!

1 year, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

The plan was for Uncle Joe, Aunt Rebecca, and your cousin Savannah to drive up from Pensacola to spend the Christmas holidays in Alabama with us at Nonna and Papa’s house. That was inspired by how well their Thanksgiving visit went just a month earlier.

However, the three of them got way too sick to ever leave Florida. So sadly, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them as planned.

But even still, our family was pleasantly surprised this past week when an expected box arrived on our doorstep.

It turns out, Aunt Rebecca had our Christmas gifts shipped to us in the mail, so we could celebrate Christmas a little bit longer, into the new year.

I loved watching you open your gift. Your face lit up, “Baby!!!”

It was a Cabbage Patch Kids Cuties doll. And since that day you opened it, you’ve yet to spend a day without it.

You take the doll with you to bed, you push it in the stroller, and you attempt to even eat your meals with it.

As for your brother Jack, he was obviously pleased to receive a whoopee cushion, silly string, and slime. And Mommy loved her Mary Kay products.

Even I received something cool!

It’s a new mug with a big pickle for a handle. The next day at lunch, you sat next to me as I enjoyed my standard Ramen noodles it; while you munched on oatmeal.

There’s just nothing like getting a gift after you weren’t expecting to get anymore gifts. Typically, if there’s a mysterious box waiting for us on our doorstep, it’s because Mommy ordered something on Amazon, like a new water filter for our refrigerator.

But not this time.

This time, our whole family got a fun surprise!

Love,

Daddy

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Actually Get Less Sleep, Less Exercise, and Less Time to Relax; Compared to When I Worked a “Real Job” in an Office

I am definitely not complaining. I love being a stay-at-home dad who works on the side as a freelance writer and YouTuber. This is who I am now.

My kids are amazing. My heart melts every time I see them. I am one lucky dad!

Just look at them… ah!

But I will say, if I’m allowed to be honest (?)… back when I worked in the office doing a “real job”, I undeniably got more rest, more time to myself, and even more time to exercise.

As a stay-at-home dad who works from home, I am “on” from the moment the first child wakes up (around 6:15 AM) until the moment I get the last of my YouTube videos shot for the day (around 10:30 PM). Not to mention, it is also my role to get up with our daughter in the middle of the night when she suddenly wakes up; I’m the one who gets her back to sleep, if she’ll go back to sleep.

And all throughout the day I’m racing to get work done, during any break I get, like when my daughter falls asleep for a 90 minute naps; which is how I’m typing this now).

Compare that to when I worked in HR in an office, which was a nearly hour-long drive from my house. Even though I was the one dropping off both kids at their separate day cares, it still gave me close to an hour to work, then an hour from work, to myself.

I could sit in a car for nearly two hours a day and listen to music as I commuted. I had time to be by myself and think.

Plus, I had two 10 minute breaks in addition to an hour lunch break each day.

There was even an abandoned closet in the back of the building where it was an unspoken rule that you could take a nap there during your lunch break; which I regularly did, sleeping on the floor, using a jacket as my pillow.

Additionally, I used the park next to my office as my gym, where it was easy to get an all natural work-out.

Yeah, I don’t have those advantages now. I’m working on blog posts, YouTube videos, or household chores during every free moment I get. And I can’t just take a 20 month-old little girl outside in the extreme temperature, to get exercise for myself.

It’s always a constant race to get work done before my daughter wakes up. (I’m currently about 12 minutes away from that happening now…)

So you can imagine, I find it a foreign concept when I read a comment like this on one of my videos:

“You are a good stay at home dad. My husband would just be napping or watching the TV. I know what my husband’s DNA is, the lazy gene ha ha ha ha ha. Love your videos…”

I love having the privilege of staying at home with my kids while my wife sacrifices by being the one to work full-time; bringing in the majority of our income, as well as insurance and benefits.

But I won’t deny, just like with any job, mine has got its downsides.

Every once in a while, I reluctantly give myself a break, and will take a nap while my daughter is asleep. I’ve done that about 3 times since I began a stay-at-home dad nearly 3 months ago.

But then I wake up and realize how much work I have to catch up on!

Oh… yep… speaking of… She just woke up.

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: How I Take a Shower While Caring for My 20 Month Old Daughter

I’ve now been a stay-at-home dad for 2 and a half months. It’s safe to say it’s taken me this long to figure out the logistics of how to take a shower each morning, while occupying my young daughter somehow during the process.

It also took this long for my daughter herself to become accustomed to the routine of me taking a shower while she entertains herself.

We’re finally at the point where she and I mutually recognize that my shower is part of our daily routine, and I can see now that she finds comfort in that predictable routine.

Here’s how it works:

First, I make sure she has a snack that won’t make too much of a mess. The easy go-to is a small cup full of pretzels. My German-Dutch daughter loves pretzels for breakfast!

So once I’m in the shower, she spends the first half of it munching on her snack while she patiently faces me; seeing me through a small opening in the shower curtain. That way she knows I’m right there.

I’ll throw her a line every once in a while: “Hi Baby, I see you. Daddy’s in the shower but I can still see you…”

By the time she’s done with her pretzels, she takes it upon herself to find Mommy’s make up bag in the drawer. So far, my daughter has yet to utterly destroy anything, or at least noticeably apply any lipstick.

Once I’m almost ready to get out of the shower, I announce that to her, “Okay Baby, Daddy needs his towel. Can you help Daddy?”

She then prides herself in the responsibility of handing me my towel; then I dry off behind the closed shower curtain, before making my way to my awesome Captain America sweater or whatever my wardrobe will be that day.

And that’s how it’s done.

I am Zest-fully clean!

Millennial Parents Respond to Mayim Bialik’s “Competitive Moms” Story

My wife and I recently published a video for our YouTube channel for this blog, giving our reaction to Mayim Bialik’s story on People.com, called Mayim Bialik Reveals She “Left in Tears” After First Group Meeting with “Competitive Moms”.

Her story addresses the fact that Millennials live in a version of the world in which so many parents feel the need to compete with one another. This creates an environment in which those who are not “competing” often feel judged by those who are.

In our own video responding to the story, I explained that the real issue with parents who feel the need to compete with others in their parenting style and skills is this:

They are insecure in their identity not only as individuals, but as parents.

It goes back to junior high when I learned this from my mom; that the kids who were most likely to tease others were simply revealing that they were actually more insecure than the kids they were making fun of.

And now as adults, this same concept continues:

The most insecure parents have the biggest need to project an image of themselves as the “better” parents. And sure, social media helps encourage the competition.

“Mirror, mirror, on my Facebook wall, who’s the fairest parent of them all?”

People tend to seek confirmation when they communicate in social media. They are often seeking approval from their peers to confirm that they are cool, they are funny, they are beautiful, they are relevant, and/or they are good parents.

But what if you simply don’t that need confirmation and therefore, you have no reason to compete?

Insecure parents compete with other another, while slightly clueless yet confident parents ignore the competition all together.

In our video, my wife and I explain that none of us parents truly know what we’re doing. We can’t.

I explain that if you are competing with other parents, you are automatically losing that competition. The only way to “win” is not to play at all.

Instead, all we can do is the best we know how and hope it works out in the end. But as we “practice” parenting, the last thing we should worry about is some silly ongoing competition on the best way to parent.

I explain that while all of us are clueless to some degree, we can still show we are secure in our own identity as individuals and as parents by simply accepting that our own parenting methods are no better than others’, and therefore, we have no reason to seek confirmation or approval in a competition, or to judge other parents for making different decisions than us.

For example, my wife and I do not spank our children. We discipline them, but we have never physically struck them. That’s the culture in our household.

However, that doesn’t mean we have any interest in judging parents who do spank their children. After all, my wife and I are in the minority in this.

Similarly, we have no desire to judge other parents for what they let their children eat. Yes, I am a vegan and my wife and children are vegetarians. But that doesn’t mean we believe everyone should do as we do. We simply don’t care.

Let other people live their own lives. As for us, we’ll live our own. It’s that simple.

When you are focused on doing what is right for your own family, how can you have time to worry about whether other parents are doing it better or worse than you?

My wife and I definitely do not have it all figured out. We never will. We automatically disqualify ourselves from the competition.

You’re more than welcome to join us.

SEO Spotlight Guest Blog Post: Review of Baltic Amber Necklaces for Teething Babies, by Baltic Wonder

DISCLOSURE LANGUAGE

Baltic Wonder sponsored and wrote this article; I received compensation for my time and platform. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. Baltic Wonder believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Baltic Wonder’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Since I really can’t do an honest review of an amber necklace unless I actually use it, I decided to go through with it. I researched Baltic Amber and how to get an authentic one, and then bought one.

When it arrived, I was still skeptical but excited to see if what the natural mamas have been raving about was true. As luck would have it, my baby was just getting a bit fussy again after her last round of teeth cutting. It was the perfect time.

I put the necklace around Julie’s neck. I watched her to see what she did and really she didn’t notice there was anything on there. She went on her way to play with her push rocket.

It wasn’t too long after that she started to fuss. I knew it had to be the teething because her face was getting red and her temp was 99.5.

I immediately thought that the necklace wasn’t working and I should just take it off. I stopped myself though. I figured it wasn’t doing any harm and well, I should give it a good amount of time, so I can give it a chance.

As the day went on, Julie was o.k. She had the mild temperature and some fussiness, but it wasn’t anything as bad as it was the last round. At the end of the day before bedtime, I took the necklace off.

In the morning, I put the necklace back on her. Her temperature was gone, and she slept through the night. That was nice, but since I took the necklace off, I didn’t attribute her good night to it. It was just a coincidence…. Or was it?

Julie wore her Baltic amber necklace all day and again, didn’t even notice it was on her. She was calm all day and ate pretty well. When I woke up the next morning, after another nice night, I looked in her mouth. There was another tooth coming through!

Before jumping to conclusions, I had to try the amber necklace again through a teething phase. Instead of waiting for when she started a mild fever again, I just kept putting the necklace on every morning. It’s been a year since I first put the necklace on her, and we’ve never had a problem with teething. She almost has a mouth full now, and I honestly believe that our easy time through teething is because of the amber necklace.

SEO Spotlight: Review of Baltic Amber Necklaces for Teething Babies from Real Baltic Wonder

How Baltic Amber Necklaces Work

It may be too good to believe, but you might as well try it for yourself to see if it works. It won’t harm baby, and you never know, it may actually work.

Baltic amber teething necklaces are made out of fossilized tree resin. This resin has Succinic Acid, which is an oil that has been used to treat many illnesses and boost immunity. Colds, fevers, inflammation, headaches, and pain have all been relieved with amber for centuries in Europe and the Middle East.

When a baby wears the necklace around her neck, the body warms the beads, and this releases the oil onto the skin. It then seeps through the skin and goes right into the bloodstream to do its magic.

What’s important is that you purchase an authentic amber necklace. The amber beads need to be high quality, or it won’t have enough of the treatment oil to help. The best beads come from the Baltic areas of the world, such as Lithuania. It’s where the beads for my necklace were sourced, and it worked for me, so I would recommend that as a reliable location for authentic amber beads.

If you’ve used amber necklaces, comment below to let me know how you like them. If you haven’t and end up trying it because of this review, come back and let me know if it worked for you. It’s always great to see mamas come together and help one another with all of the baby stages that can be a real struggle sometimes.

* We are giving away 10 Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces to 10 random users. To be a part of the giveaway you must:

· Follow us on Instagram @realbalticwonder

· Make a comment on the posted blog.

· Make a comment on the following picture of our Instagram:

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Why “Mr. Mom” and Even “Stay-at-Home Dad” are Not Be the Best Titles for What I Actually Do

A few years back, it started becoming more common knowledge that anyone who still used the phrase “Mr. Mom” to refer to a “stay-at-home dad” was revealing they themselves were out of touch with modern times.

I feel that I am the epitome of the modern American dad: I have always been extremely involved in not only my kids’ lives, but extremely active in domestic life. There is no irony in a dad doing the dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming the floors, getting the kids ready for school, and taking them to the park on the weekend while his wife is out buying groceries.

In fact, I would argue that a dad who is not that heavily involved in domestic duties would be a dad who doesn’t have a healthy marriage. Yes. That’s how important it is these days.

I have been saying for years now, that in our modern American culture, a man can not be a good husband unless he is a also good father. And by good husband, I mean he is extremely involved as a domestic helpmate, in addition to being faithful and loving to his wife. Good husband and good father in inseparable terms.

But in addition to “Mr. Mom” being an outdated and irrelevant term, I feel the same is happening with “stay-at-home dad” as well. Here’s why:

I am actually working to make money (with my side hustles) alongside also working to save money (by staying home with the kids).

All of my free time is spent generating income for my family.

I don’t binge-watch Netflix. I don’t take naps. I don’t scroll Facebook on my phone.

Instead, whenever I am not responsible for catering to the physical or emotional needs of another member of my family, I am either working as a freelance writer or producing YouTube videos.

(At this point in time, most people still don’t realize how much money YouTubers can make if they do it right… but I have figured out the formula, after years of practice.)

So in addition to it not being ironic to share the domestic duties, I am also spending any free time working from home. And this includes after everyone else has gone to sleep (including my wife) and in the middle of the night when I have to wake up to get our daughter back to sleep.

Does this make me special? I would think not.

I would have to imagine it is quite normal for the modern dad who stays at home with his kids to also have some kind of side hustle going on.

It’s all about having a hobby that makes my family money, not one that costs us money. I submit this is normal.

Since I make supplemental income from this blog and my YouTube channels, it’s this simple:

If I’m not working, I’m not making money.

It technically costs me money to not be working, as every new blog post and every new video I publish increases my SEO and subscribership, and therefore, my income.

Undeniably, it’s important to my identity that I’m providing income for my family in some way, in addition to taking care of the kids; while my wife, who has a master’s degree, is out making the big bucks.

So yeah, “stay-at-home dad” doesn’t quite cut it. Maybe it’s more like “stay-at-home dad who works from home”.