If this is your first time visiting, welcome. If you are returning again, welcome back. While this blog was originally not going to be about me or my life, it seems to be morphing to include more of myself and experiences. I will still strive to add a different perspective to the news and events around the world that impact everyone's life,however, I will focus more attention on issues that relate more tangibly to our personal lives. We all live in a world that is increasingly interconnected yet it seems a lot of people are turning inwards, shying away from human interaction. Lets step away from ourselves and see what we can do to make a difference. There are ads on this page and 65 cents of every dollar earned will be donated towards helping the homeless. If you like what you are reading, please share it with your friends.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Not Missing the Little Things

Technology has a way of sucking people in like an indiscriminate vacuum hose flicking through the air like a snake captured by its tail.  Its tantalizing grip is like the song of the sirens, irresistible to the ears of so many people, yet largely unfulfilling.  People can laud the improvements its made in their lives, the connections between friends it has restored, the speed with which it has seemingly increased daily life, and yet, for all the praises technology receives, it can not bring us closer to our children.  Rather, it is more like a large wedge that gets innocuously placed between parent and child, driving slowly downwards and pushing them away.  I am not talking about teenagers here as it will be years before my own children reach that age, but rather, young children.  I am more attuned to young children, both my own and those of other parents, and in merely observing them, we can learn so much about them and to a certain respect, about us.  As young children develop, their own personality and actions are initially based upon what they view in their parents.  They mimic what parents say, how parents act to a certain extent, and in some ways, they offer us a mirror to gaze into a see how we as parents are actually doing.  Philosophically, some would argue that babies and young children are a blank slate that gets written on, developed, and over the course of time burgeons into a little unique human being.  To a certain extent, though not entirely, I believe in the blank slate idea.  If we as parents get angry over the smallest event going awry, then you can be sure our children will learn to get angry over similar events and issues.  If we as parents laugh and love in life, accepting those around us for who they are, then are children will be more likely to laugh and love in life as well.  Nothing is ever set in stone and not all children will mimic every aspect of their parents life or for that matter take everything that their parents did and incorporate it into their own being.  Yet, children do largely take a good portion of who they are from their parents.  I can see it in my own life and through that of my parents, and I can see it in those of my friends who I have known since childhood.  Its slightly uncanny how children develop into adults based upon their parents, family, and the community around them.  Which all leads me back to technology and children.  If we as parents use technology incessantly in our lives, keeping our eyes glued persistently to the screen of an ipad, computer, or smart phone, then our children will learn to do the same and yearn to mimic our behavior.  But technology has a different impact as well, and this has more to do with us as parents than the effect it has on our children.
If we as parents keep our eyes glued to these devices of technology, then not only will we teach our children to do the same, we will miss a big part of our children's lives.  We will miss the little moments in our children's lives that are simply magical, profound, and fleeting.  We can miss that moment of our child peeking their eyes over the bowl of cookie dough being mixed in the mixer, seeking to understand what is going on and yearning for that first taste of it.  We will miss that moment of our child skipping through the back yard to the beat of their own drum on the way to no where in particular.  We will miss that concentration they exact on opening up a cabinet door, the gears churning in their heads, trying to figure out the hidden mechanism.  And we can miss that longing gaze they cast our way as they play in their rooms and look to see if we are involved with them.  It is all these moments and so many more that will simply never happen for parents if their eyes are glued to a smart phone or stuck behind the lens of a camera.  We may catch the moment as it winds down or just after it ends, but we will never get back the full moment as it unfolds, climaxes, and subsequently winds down.  It will just never exist for us.  Sometimes, as I watch our son go through one of those moments or hundreds of others I have been witness to, I am immensely grateful that I did not have my eyes glued to my phone.  I then think to other parents and what they might have done instead, and while not all would have been glued to a phone or stuck behind a camera, I fear that many would have been.  Sure, a camera can capture their look or that moment, but it is not the same as being in the moment with a child and having no interference whatsoever.  There is something to be said for raw human to human interaction sans technology.  For thousands of years, we learned how to interact with other humans by seeing their face and dealing with them without distraction.  We learned how to become part of a community and the importance of eye to eye contact.  These days, much of that is slipping away.  Yet, for all that I use my phone during the day and the computer at morning and at night, I rarely have use them when I am around my children.  I would rather be intimately involved during every moment I am around them than be distracted by some device that sucks my attention away.  I cherish every "moment" I have with my children and would never regret not having my phone in my hand during one of them.  Just saying, but maybe we need to disconnect in order to connect sometimes. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Through the Night

Its been a little over two months since our daughter was born and it seems like we may have lucked out a second time.  Our son started sleeping through the night at a little over two months old, or at least a solid eight hours during which my wife could get a good chunk of sleep in.  Well, our daughter did her first eight hour stretch of sleep through the night the other day and we are hoping that it stays that way.  Of course, I would have to be the one to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, which I did last night, by letting our daughter fall asleep too early in my arms, but I couldn't help it.  Regardless, she has one eight hour stretch under her belt and things are looking like they might continue that way.  It would be fantastic if she could figure out how to sleep through the night, night after night, before my wife goes back to work in a week and a half.  I think she can do it and we will do everything in our power to make it happen (which of course is not that much).  So aside from everyone being healthy and our son adjusting remarkably well to having a baby sister, that was the biggest news recently.  In fact, our son every other day or so, asks if he can old his sister on his lap, to which we of course reply that he can.  I can not even begin to tell you how happy I am that he loves his sister and isn't acting violently towards her.  In fact, he hasn't even asked if we can return her.  We have heard horror stories from other parents about how the older sibling has a very hard time adjusting to having a baby around, but all in all, our son is doing great.  The only area in which he gets a little jealous is over the attention that my wife has to give our daughter.  Yet, despite that little pang of jealousy, he remedies it by desiring to be with my wife more often than not.  And still, no violence.  I know as both my son and daughter get older, they will have their disagreements, their little shoving matches, their desire to hold on to as much privacy as space will allow, but for now, all is peaceful.  I am of the thinking that if we can keep the peace as long as possible, perhaps it will stick around as they get older and they will become the best of friends.  Only time will tell how their relationship will develop, but we are going to do everything in our power to make sure it turns out to be a happy relationship.  Oh well.
I am pretty sure I said this when our son was the same age as our daughter is now, but I will say it again in regards to her; I can't wait till she gets to at least six months old.  She is starting to show signs of being a human, with her personality occasionally peeking through, but all in all, she is still a full blown baby and I am just not a baby person.  I know some people love babies and would just love to keep their children in the baby phase.  I am definitely not one of them.  Give me a toddler, or a child, tantrums and all, and I will be content.  The incessant screaming that sometimes comes from babies is just not for me.  And as such, I think my wife and I are pretty much set on capping our family at four, the two of us and two kids, done.   Perhaps it is the fact that I have a 2.5 year old son running around the house or the fact that I am 2.5 years older and dealing with a screaming baby, or a combination of the two, but my patience for screaming is just not there anymore.  I can of course muster up the patience to deal with a screaming baby, you just sort of tune it out, but there are times when it just grates on my nerves.  Don't get me wrong, I love our daughter to death, the same as I love our son, I just need for her to get a little older and stop screaming so much.  My wife keeps on reminding me that our son screamed just as much, but I maintain that she screams more.  Yet, none of that matters because come summer time, she should be adjusted much better to life outside of her mommy.  When I am holding our daughter, there are times when I flashback to holding our son.  The two of them at times look remarkably alike.  You can tell there are slight differences in their facial features and the way their head is formed, but for a good part of the time, they look very similar.  One thing is or sure, having two young children around the house leaves very little time for anything else.  Its just a matter of sleeping less and trying to fit more into the hours of the day when we are awake.  Yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  There is nothing you could give me to take all this away and return life to the way it was before children.  I could ramble on, but I won't today.  Instead, I will go make breakfast. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Age Old Cure for ADHD

Depending on who you talk to and what articles you read, Attention Deficit Disorder and its accompanying Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder are either becoming an epidemic or are being over diagnosed.  ADD and ADHD respectively started becoming prevalent when I was younger.  Some of my friends were diagnosed, got the medication, and claimed to get better.  These days, about 1 in 9 children are diagnosed with the disorder and almost all are placed on medication to help them cope and to "cure" them.  But the drugs are not really a cure, they just subdue the symptoms, and to date, no one can actually claim to have found a cure.  Well, I think I have.  While not scientifically proven through a double blind study or with large quantities of children split into two groups to measure its effectiveness, I'm standing by my meager findings.   Granted, my son does not have ADD or ADHD, but upon viewing him during his afternoon witching hour or during a weekend morning where his routine throughout the week is skewed and thrown out the window, one might think that he had the "disorder".  In the afternoons, he tends to be a little scattered, jumping from activity to activity, running back and forth like a maniac, and lending plenty of evidence to the phenomenon that every parent knows all to well, the witching hour.  On weekends, he can be scattered due to the lack of a set routine as he is used to on the weekdays.  All this can make for a child that seems to be fully engulfed with a disorder on par with ADD or ADHD.  Yet, I know he doesn't have either despite appearances.  So what is this magical cure that requires no prescription and no ingestion of some foreign chemicals miraculously assembled so as to alleviate symptoms of some "disorder"?  Simply put, the great outdoors is my magical cure.  There is nothing quite like it to settle a cranky, disorderly child.  In the midst of the worst tantrum, all we have to do is open up our backdoor, put boots on our sons feet and let him go outside and everything he was feeling and acting up about inside goes away.  Its almost as if some magical switch was flipped within him that changes the whole nature of his being and puts him on a new path to normalcy. 

As I mentioned before, our son does not have ADD or ADHD, but seeing the difference between our son indoors and outdoors is phenomenal.  I bet if he had the choice, he would play outside all day and possibly even sleep out there if given the option.  Yet, at 2.5 years old, those are not options that we will entertain at this point in time.  Perhaps this summer he will have the ability to play outside for a majority of the day, but right now when the temperature lends itself more to jackets, hats, and runny noses versus shorts, t-shirts, and a tan, we will limit the time he spends outside.  Being an outdoor junky myself, I couldn't be happier that he wants to spend as much time outside as possible.  Almost every afternoon we have to bring him inside screaming when it is time to make dinner, all because he wants to keep on shoveling the shrinking piles of snow in our backyard or get those last few minutes in his sandbox in.  (Yes, even now in the cold he wants to play in his sandbox).  And the past two weekends we have gone on family hikes, our daughter who is 2 months old, our son, my wife, and I, venturing into the "wilderness" for an hour to decompress, enjoy nature, and just be together as a family.  On both weekends, our son walked the entire way himself and didn't want to leave when our hike was over.  The last hike we went on brought us to Southford Falls State Park where our son was enchanted by the waterfall and him and I literally spent a half hour throwing sticks into the water.  Every time we ran out of sticks, his response was, "Find more sticks?"  To which I always responded, "Of course we can find more sticks".  Well, I responded that way up until it was time to go.  I guess one of my biggest fears now is that there won't be any children his age who actually want to go play outside.  I'm sure there will be a few here and there, but I fear the majority will be stuck inside glued to their TV's, computers, and iphones.  It was happening when my brother was younger.  His friends mostly wanted to play inside when he wanted to be outside.  I can't keep technology from our son forever, but for now, I would much rather have him go fall in the mud (as he does quite often) and get some bruises than be plastered to the couch with a screen inches from his face jostling his young brain and creating a life of dependency on technological gadgets.  We shall see what the future brings, but for now, lets celebrate the fact that in addition to loving the outdoors, he put his pants on by himself just the other day.  They were backwards, but they were on and he was proud of it. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Time Disappears

Needless to say, since the birth of our daughter, life has been a little crazy.  I signed on this morning, looked at the date of my last post, and was quite surprised that it has been over a month since I have even been on here to do any writing.  Quite frankly, I don't know how I managed to squeak in the few minutes I have right now to do even this quick little bit of writing.  But anyway, I am here, writing, but not making any promises on the continuity or frequency of my future writing.  All I can say is that I am still alive, our family is doing well, and time, well, it seems to disappear.  Whenever someone tells you to appreciate every moment because time moves quicker as you get older, listen to them.  I am only 31 years old, and yet, since our son was born, time has seemed to pick up pace, or rather, every empty moment is now filled with something, and while time may not have actually sped up, the illusion that it has is quite real.  But with all those spare moments seemingly filled up, I still manage a few breaks for myself here and there, and when it comes to spending time with our son or daughter, I make every attempt to be there with them in that moment.  Don't get me wrong, the transition from moving a mile a minute during the day to being completely absorbed with my son or daughter is not easy.  The pull of work and everything around me, beckoning me to keep moving, to keep busy, to quell that insatiable desire to do more, is not always easy to turn off.   Yet, when I am with my son or daughter, my cell phone gets put down, calls go unanswered, and my attention turns to what is really important in life; family, especially my wife and children.  And while life has been crazy, time disappearing like sand through open fingers, life has also been good.  There is not much I could actually complain about, not it would matter if I did.  My family is healthy despite the random cold that seems to infiltrate any household with children in it, and work is going well.  What else could one ask for despite being a random million dollar lottery winner?  I guess a list could be put together, but I don't need much.  I'm happy.  My family is happy.  We pay the bills.  Life is good.