Monday, December 31, 2012

Flip the Calendar

2012 has been quite a ride, though I am very ready for it to end and the journey of lucky 2013 to begin. This has been a notable year around the Dude’s House for many reasons:

·         The blog completed its’ first full calendar year: Now that I’m just about 1 ½ years into this blogging fun, I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. I went to my first blogging conference where I saw old friends and made some new ones. I learned things that helped me improve as a blogger (or at least I think so).  I went from posting once every 7 to 10 days to 3 or 4 times a week. The last few months have put a hitch in all that, but I’m planning on ramping back up in the new year. Unless I win the lottery. Actually, I’d probably blog more if I won the lottery thanks to all the free time I’d suddenly have. So if you want to see more of me next year, cut me in on your next Powerball win.

·         The Littler Dude was born: In late September we were joined by another happy smiley little guy. It’s been a major adjustment for all of us, but now 3 months later, we are finally getting into a good rhythm. (Or as much as is possible while running on 4-5 hours sleep per night.) Let’s hope his schedule evens out when he moves into a crib early next year. Otherwise I may ask to come crash on your couch.

Me & the Littler Dude, 5 minutes old
·         The Little Dude started preschool: We didn’t know what to expect with a major transition not even 3 weeks before his brother was born, but our now-3-year-old handled everything like a champ. Not that I ever doubted him, with his debonair good looks and winning laugh. It hasn’t been entirely smooth, though.

·          I was published on the Huffington Post! No autographs, please. Seriously though, it was quite an honor and I’ve been on there a few times. Very cool. Still haven’t met Arianna yet.

·         I went camping. If you know me in real life, you understand how preposterous that sounds. It wasn’t bad, though I might have felt differently if our HD TV hadn’t been working.

·         I lost the only grandparent I ever really knew. Hard stuff. I know people often say “death is a part of life”, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s the really crappy part.  

·         I created and celebrated the inaugural Dudes’ Day. It was epic. Looking forward to many more to come. IHOP, watch out.

·         I wrote my most personal post early in the year. As I mentioned, death sucks. But sometimes good things come out of it, like this blog.

It’s been an eventful year with life and death. Good music and birthday parties. And pancakes. Lots of pancakes. And I appreciate you joining me for the ride. If there is anything you want to see more of next year (or less), please let me know. I love hearing from you all. You are what makes this page keep running. Well, you and my two boys and wife. And laptop. Let’s just say it’s a joint effort, but I’m glad you’re here. See you in 2013!

Your Pal, 

The Dude

The Little Dude's Birthday (at IHOP, naturally)

New Years Eve 2012:
Little Dude (3 years) & Littler Dude (3 months)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Keep Your Chin Up

Having been raised in the Midwest, I’ve been amazed by the lack of weather preparedness most Southern Californians possess for pretty much the entire 13+ years I’ve lived here.  I’ve never owned a raincoat during that time, or probably since I was 5 years old, but was appreciative of the generosity of a relative who dropped one off for the Little Dude recently.  He’s the lucky recipient of many hand-me-downs from some older cousins and this was one more for the collection though it didn’t really seem essential given our climate.  Of course, I’m the type of genius who says something like that and then it immediately starts raining. As it did that night.

When the Little Dude woke up the next morning he wanted to check out the bright yellow raincoat he’d received. And as I was headed out the door to take him to preschool, Mrs. Dude handed it to me to bring for him. When we got to school, I took the coat and his backpack out of my car and put them on the Little Dude for our short walk to his classroom. We climbed the slippery steps as a light mist coated our heads. I was content wearing a t-shirt and light fleece sweatshirt. Most of the other parents and kids appeared dressed for upcoming cruises on Noah’s Ark.

After we ascended the steps, we reached the courtyard which is where the Little Dude usually starts to get really excited for school. He started to take off his backpack, as he often does, and when we reached his room he was ready to play. I started to take off his jacket as he entered the room, but apparently the cuffs were a bit small and his hands got stuck while he walked. As his momentum carried him forward, his arms moved behind him like a bird taking flight.  When his feet touched the slippery tile floor below him, the Little Dude dropped to the ground. Chin first. Ouch.

I didn’t know what to do as I watched my first born crying on the floor. I hoped it was just due to shock and not actual injury, but couldn’t tell from my angle. I dropped his jacket, which I’d finally wrestled off his wrists and went to pick him up.

There is no worse feeling as a parent than watching your child crying for a legitimate reason.  Not “I want ice cream!” or “I don’t want to go to bed” crying, but rather “This freakin’ hurts! Help me!”

I picked him up and he clung to me like stink on a sardine. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pry his face from my chest to assess the damage. We went to sit in the nearby school office, to avoid scaring the other kids, when I finally got a peak. His light-blue tie-dyed shirt now bore a significant red pattern. I was thankful that my sweatshirt was both zipped up and a dark maroonish color, aka the lone option that wouldn’t show any blood leakage.

Someone brought him a bag of ice, but he wasn’t interested. After what felt like 20 minutes, but was probably 3 or 4, of hysteria. I spotted some Hot Wheels and model cars directly next to us. I used a yellow Lamborghini as a distraction and within a few minutes the Little Dude resumed breathing again.

I asked the teacher what the protocol is in a situation like that, but honestly didn’t hear her answer. She said that despite the blood, it didn’t look too bad and he probably didn’t need further attention beyond the Band-Aid they’d administered. Once calm, we headed back to the classroom and I stayed for another 15 minutes to play and observe before heading out once things seemed copacetic. 

The tricky part came next: what to tell Mrs. Dude. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, partly because I was led to believe by two teachers who are mothers that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I called her from the car and told her just that.  I explained what had transpired and said he’d be fine.  Of course I was disproven when she picked him up and saw the wound herself.  As a guy, I didn’t think it was that bad. To a mother, I can understand how it might be. So she called the doctor and I met them there a couple hours later.

As we waited in the waiting room, the wound opened up again. His yellow shirt turned brownish when the red spots started falling and spreading. Our regular pediatrician wasn’t available, so we saw another who used words like “plastic surgeon” and “sedation”. He said that the cut, which is under the chin and only visible if you look for it, probably wasn’t worth the trouble for something that wouldn’t be noticeable. For several reasons, we agreed and left with a new Band-Aid, a plastic millipede, some stickers and 3 lollipops. Fortunately my little patient had something to show for the $30 co-pay.

I took him in my car and Mrs. Dude took his brother in hers. As the stressful day wound down, my 3-year-old passed out. But I knew there was something else we had to do. So we stopped by the local Vons grocery store and I let him pick out a Hot Wheels car, which he’d told his mother earlier was what would make him feel better. I wasn’t sure if that was sufficient, so as my guilt over possible neglect set in, we walked a few doors down to Baskin Robbins with his new car to wash everything down with some Cookies and Cream. Though I’m not usually a big fan, I now understand why people say Oreos make them feel better. They certainly did the trick for us that day.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Slide

Who cares that this slide is only four feet long, 
It feels like Space Mountain to me. 

How would you caption this picture?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Thriller

Thirty years ago today something happened that changed the course of rock history. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released on November 30, 1982 and neither music nor skin-tight red leather jackets covered with zippers have been the same since.  


Though the album was released when I was just 7, my older siblings must have exposed me to this masterpiece early on. Full of amazing songs, I picked one for this week’s Rockin’ Friday tune and it’s probably not the one you’d expect.

Though Beat It is a gem, due in part to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work, I chose the first track from Thriller: Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.  Though as a writer I should find the title’s horrible grammar abhorrent, the killer opening bass line takes care of business.  It’s the perfect launching point for this rock masterpiece. 

Even though I’ll likely never understand what “Mama say Mama sah Mama Kusa” means, this is an epic song that is nearly impossible to resist tapping along with the beat to.

Check out this great live version (but you don't have to look at the dancers who look like rejects from Cats): 

What's your favorite track from Thriller?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Chicken

Maybe you guys know
where McNuggets actually come from?

How would you caption this picture?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful for Metal

While sleepily driving the Little Dude to preschool last week, I decided to do something radical and turn down the music with the intention of having a conversation. Now that he’s a couple months into preschool, and loving it, the entire 12 minute ride is no longer filled with I don’t want to go to school repeated on a loop.

Thanksgiving was upon us and it was really the first time that the Little Dude should have been able to understand what the holiday is about. Beyond the tales of pilgrims and Indians, boats and turkeys, rests a concept that is so often overlooked. No matter what situation we have in our lives, we are lucky. We should think about that and appreciate it.

So I asked my newly 3 year old if he knew what Thanksgiving was about and he replied “turkeys”. Um, sort of. I went into a long speech about how everyone has certain things in life that we need to be thankful for. For example, he has a Mama and a Dada, a new baby brother and an adoring dog.  I told him that not everyone has those things. Being the inquisitive toddler he is, he asked why. That’s a hard thing for a toddler to comprehend so I told him that every family is different. Some have two Mamas and some might have 5 sisters.Whatever our situation, we should be thankful.

I told him that he is lucky to have a bed to sleep in and clothes to wear. He has food to eat and a school to go to. He has friends and family. He has his health. I asked him if he was thankful for all those things.He said “Yes…and for my Hot Wheels, too”.  Ever since he received his first Hot Wheels a few months ago, he’s been in love with them. He talks about them day and night and sleeps with a few on his nightstand.  He memorizes their names and looks forward to earning more. 

Everyone has their priorities. He’s 3 years old, I know his will evolve.  And maybe next year he’ll consciously realize everything else he is so fortunate to have, even if it is not made of die-cast metal.

I know I do. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Bottle

No wonder I'm exhausted,
this bottle is almost bigger than my body.

How would you caption this picture??

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rockin' Friday: My Birthday

Today is my birthday. Hard to believe another year has passed, but I guess that’s what happens when you aren’t clock watching. Since my last birthday I’ve been the lucky recipient of the Littler Dude and enjoyed the Little Dude getting older and wiser, too. And Mrs. Dude and I celebrated 5 years of wedded bliss, though that period has felt more like a month.
Not my cake, but I wouldn't mind if it was. 
Life certainly isn’t easy, but I think after 36 years, I’m starting to get the hang of it. Fortunately I have a great co-pilot and crew to back me up. As a wise man once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And I don’t want to miss it.  So I’m going to end with this week’s Rockin’ Friday tune of the week: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad.

That title isn’t indicative of my current state of mind, but rather just an upbeat fun song as I’ve already conquered some of the road and am certainly living where the climate suits my clothes. It’s a classic folk song that has been remade countless times. Here’s one of my favorite versions: 


Thanks for your ongoing support of Dude of the House!!
You make the road I'm traveling much more fun. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Stolen Birthday

As the youngest of three siblings by several years, I never really had to get used to sharing.  When I was in elementary school, my siblings were in high school and college so I didn’t have to worry about them taking my GI Joes or WWF action figures. I don’t say that to make a point about selfishness, but more related to growing up with a high level of independence. What was mine was mine and I liked it that way.

That all changed three years ago this week. My birthday is coming up in a few days. I haven’t really been a big birthday celebrator in many years, partly because aging is a frustrating thing when your life isn’t exactly what you hoped it might be. I’m not complaining, as I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful wife and family. But for quite a while I brushed off my birthday as just another day.

The Little Dude was born 9 days before my birthday three years ago. In the Jewish religion we have a ceremony called a Bris that is performed on a newborn boy’s 8th day of life. It’s a powerful ritual that goes back thousands of years and is also an important milestone shared joyously with family and friends. Given the timing of his birth, the Little Dude’s Bris was held the day before my birthday. It was a wonderful day, but I think it made me a little jealous.

As parents of a newborn, Mrs. Dude and I mostly hung around the house for the first few weeks after he arrived. And just like the day before it, the day after the Bris was no different. But it was my birthday. And part of me wanted to reclaim it like a dog who gets angry when another dog finds one of his long-forgotten buried bones.

Little Dude & me at lunch that day. 
My parents were in town and we went to lunch on my birthday at a nearby place where we could sit outside. Southern California is one of the few places in the country that affords that kind of luxury in mid-November. After lunch we went back to the house to sit around and look at the baby. And it was boring. The Little Dude was a great sleeper since birth so most of the time we just watched him. That day we also opened gifts that people had brought for him to the Bris and ate leftovers from the Bris for dinner.  

Sometime that evening, I got upset. I didn’t know why, but my emotions got the best of me and I had a slight meltdown. I’m sure exhaustion played a part, but there had to be another reason. I was blessed to be sitting with my family and beautiful baby boy so what was the problem?

It wasn’t until late that night while lying in bed that I realized my life had really changed.  Because that day was supposed to be my day. And even though I hadn’t intended to celebrate my birthday in any particular manner, it had been unknowingly co-opted by an innocent person who, ironically, was partly there because of me.

I’d wanted to get dressed and go out to dinner that night instead of just eating leftover corned beef while wearing sweatpants as we actually did. And that’s when I realized what being a parent really meant.  It took me exactly 9 days of fatherhood to realize that parenting is about being selfless for the betterment of my family. So this year I will happily share my birthday with my wife and two boys and do whatever they need or want me to do. For they are truly the greatest birthday gift I could ever hope for. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Sure

Raise your hand, if you're sure
that you are exhausted.

How would you caption this picture?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little Dude Turns Three

When I started this blog, my life couldn’t have been much more different than it is today. In a mere 16 months I have found a new career, I have a new baby and my pants are much more snug than they were then.  But one thing that remains is the Little Dude who inspired it all.  And today he turned 3 years old.

day 1
He has certainly changed since I started writing. In fact, my first post was written while he was taking a nap. Unfortunately napping has gone the way of floppy disks and bell bottoms in our household. That’s one change I’d like to have back, actually.

When I started blogging, my Little Dude was new to walking. 

His vocabulary was extremely limited.

He was shy in many situations.

Now he has turned into a very funny, smart and handsome little guy who is the star of his preschool class.  

He loves to identify every car by manufacturer when we are driving or in a parking lot.  

He has unbelievable knowledge of exotic animals that I’dnever even heard of until he introduced me to them.

And he’s a proud big brother.

Many people say he looks like me. Frankly, I don’t see it. He has my hair, finicky palate and inherent stubbornness. Thankfully he also shares Mrs. Dude’s gentle nature and good heart.

We've shared countless one-on-one Dudes' Dinners at his favorite restaurant

It’s cliché to say that the time went so fast, but it truly has.He helped me get through the loss of my mother and it’s amazing now to see reminders of her in him even though he was very young when she passed.

It’s an honor to call him my son and I look forward to watching him grow.

And maybe someday tasting a piece of pizza. 

The Dude and Little Dude, October 2012

Your birthday good wishes are appreciated in the comment section below :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Election 2012

Are you kidding me? 
I could do a better job than half the people on this ballot! 

How would you caption this photo?

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Evolution of Halloween

Last week marked the fourth Halloween that Mrs. Dude and I spent with our Little Dude, even though he’s only 2 years old.  And each October 31st has been a tremendous marker of change for our little family.

On our first Halloween together after we’d started dating,in 2003, Mrs. Dude and I went to a big party at a well known L.A. location. (No, it wasn’t the Playboy Mansion. Unfortunately.) Our relationship was still new and we had a lot to figure out, which we did over the next few years. Fast forward six years to 2009 when we found ourselves back at that same exact location on October 31st for a very different type of event and in a very different situation.

The Little Dude’sFirst Halloween (2009):  
Costume: Uterus

Halloween is often filled with scary moments and unexpected twists and turns. We were hoping for the opposite in 2009. Mrs. Dude was 38 weeks pregnant on Halloween when friends of ours were getting married. Thanks to a presumed-very-large breech baby we had a C-Section scheduled for one week later, but sometimes babies make different plans. I was somewhat nervous as we drove to the wedding and hoped that we would have more treats than tricks that night.

Though there were definitely some spooky elements, we made it through the night unscathed and exactly one week after Halloween, the Little Dude arrived.

Second Halloween (2010):
Costume: Giraffe

We had just moved a few days before and couldn’t find the Little Dude’s costume, but through a mysterious source everything inexplicably turned up right when we needed it.  We carb-loaded beforehand with my family’s traditional Halloween dinner of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, which was the Little Dude’s first time eating that delectable treat. That’s noteworthy for starting a streak of eating it every night for over a year.  Yes, he’s definitely my kid.  

Just a week shy of his first birthday the Little Dude hadn’t started walking yet, and wouldn’t for another 5 months,  so I was tasked with schlepping him from house to house.  It was worth it, as he was mesmerized by the lights and decorations we encountered going house to house.And because he earned several full-size Snickers bars along the way.  Fortunately for me his vocabulary wasn’t very developed at that time, so I assume he wanted me to enjoy them all on his behalf.

Third Halloween (2011):
Costume: Blue Monster

Two days before Halloween, the Little Dude caught the first fever he’d ever had. I was nervous that he wouldn’t be able to go out begging that night. And since he’d been walking for 6 months, I was looking forward to not carrying  him around our hilly neighborhood.  The day of truth was upon us and his fever had subsided. Even though he probably wasn’t 100% it was all systems go.  Obviously Mac & Cheese was a prerequisite for good energy and we brought the stroller with us just to be safe.  

It was a hot humid night and after about 10 minutes, the Little Dude ran out of steam. I figured we’d head home, but he wanted to keep going. Just not to keep walking. Somehow, just like the year before, I ended up carrying him door to door for most of the night. He got spooked at one house where the monsters (aka dumb teenage kids) jumped out of the dark to scare us,but beyond that had fun. And I got a full-size Twix for my efforts.

Fourth Halloween (2012):
Costume: Dragon

This was going to be my year. No more carrying the Little Dude!  He’s amazing, but also 40 pounds. Time to let his legs earn their keep. He had a friend come over who had never been Trick or Treating before. They ran house to house and the boy’s father and I tried to keep up. After a bit, they both ran out of gas and, not surprisingly, wanted to be carried. But the excitement and pure joy in their faces made it all worthwhile.  And this year the 5 ½ week old Littler Dude experienced his first Halloween, though he likely won’t remember it since he was passed out in the stroller all night.

So that’s how my 2 year old experienced 4 Halloweens in 3 years. He loved the experience and after double-fisting Tootsie Pops that night when we got home, he forgot about the bag he’d collected and moved on with his life. As for me, I can hardly wait until next year, though I’m not sure how we’ll juggle two boys that night. I guess I’ll need to have an extra scoop of Mac& Cheese to prepare.

How was your Halloween? What was the best costume you saw?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Halloween Redux

It's almost time for Halloween and thankfully this year I (hopefully) won't have to carry the Little Dude nearly as much as in the two years prior. One thing that I know we will do is listen to his favorite Halloween song.

It was actually the song I chose for my very first Rockin' Friday feature way back in March. At the time, I asked myself what I would do at Halloween time, since it's quite an appropriate tune for the season. So since I'm sleep deprived with a 1-month-old baby, I know you'll understand re-posting the link for you to check out.  It's also worth checking out so you can learn why I hate kids' music so much.

What's your favorite Halloween-esque song?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Pumpkin

In this context only,
you may call me Little Punkin. 

How would you caption this photo?

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Battle of Turkey Pasta

He’d eaten it a million times.  Well, that’s exaggerating. He’s eaten Kraft Mac & Cheese and/or turkey dogs a million times. He’d eaten this many times and always liked it. What’s not to like about pasta with marinara sauce and ground turkey? Though it had been a while since he’d had it, that shouldn’t have mattered.  

My Little Dude is a picky eater, that's no secret. He always has been. Even with the baby food in jars he was given at six months old, he rejected most of them.  Usually all over me and my clothes.

But one exception to the rule has been Mrs. Dude’s famous “Turkey Pasta”.  She’s made it for years and he’s always been a big fan, just as I am. And in some weird coincidence, he usually wears a white or light-colored shirt on the days that he eats it.  That’s partly why we buy kegs of stain remover at Costco.   
"Big Tubes" & "Worms" pictured.
But a few months ago, my sister came to visit and introduced the Little Dude to a new culinary treat: “Butter Pasta”.   I can’t really argue that in most circumstances items topped with butter usually taste better than items mixed with turkey, but this dish may be an exception to that rule.  My sister made butter pasta for my nieces and the Little Dude immediately took to it. So much so that he started requesting it multiple times a week.  If he gets excited to eat something we get excited, though in this case I wish it had a little more protein in it.

Given his affection for his new favorite dish, and the ease of preparation, he started eating it a lot. Also since it was over 100 degrees for most of the summer and Turkey Pasta can be a heavy meal, we didn’t make it much over the last couple months.  But I figured it was time to bring it back. Just as people clamor for the McRib every time McDonald’s puts it back on the menu, so should the Little Dude enjoy his beloved Turkey Pasta once again.

Mrs. Dude took him to the grocery store to pick out pasta, as he is very intrigued by the various shapes. He picked out butterflies (farfalle), corkscrews (fusilli), tubes (penne) and more. Then he helped pour them into the boiling water, watching excitedly as they danced around the bubbles.  He waited as the shapes were mixed with sauce and put in his favorite bowl on the table for him.  

And then he refused to eat it.

He wanted something else to eat.  Butter Pasta. Which is OK sometimes, but that’s not what we’d prepared and it’s time for him to get on the same page as us. Making two separate meals is annoying. 

The next hour was not a fun course of events, with many tears shed and a failed bribery attempt, but in the end he opted to go to bed hungry and mad.  Which is a truly heartbreaking thing for a parent to watch but was entirely his choice.

Punishment came when he bounded into our room this morning at 5:30am, cheerful and happy. Acting as though nothing had occurred ten hours earlier.  “I’m hungry!” he giggled.

Perfect! We are having Turkey Pasta for breakfast...

How have you or would you deal with a situation like this?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Monkey and the Engineer

One characteristic I look for when choosing music for the Little Dude is lyrics that he can easily pick up and remember.  One recent addition to his playlist does just that, while incorporating two of his favorite things: animals and trains.
Jesse Fuller
Monkey and the Engineer was written by folk legend Jesse Fuller in the 1950s. It’s a funny song about a monkey who had been a very faithful companion to a train engineer. They’d spent so much time together, in fact, that the monkey learned how to drive the train and one day decided to take it for a spin. Or a roll. Or whatever they call driving a train. Fortunately he’d learned how to drive it from an experienced engineer and did a great job controlling locomotive #99 all the way down the track.

Though many artists have covered it, I first heard a cover of this song by the Grateful Dead who probably learned it from Jesse Fuller while he was living in the San Francisco Bay Area while they were growing up.  Though they didn’t often play it live, it was a staple of their acoustic tour in 1980. Here’s one of those performances from Radio City Music Hall:

I discovered that someone recently published a children's picture book based on this tune. I might have to check it out for my Dudes. 

What's your favorite animal-themed song?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Lounging

What do you mean this seat is for infants up to 20 pounds? 
It fits me just fine.

How would you caption this photo?

Monday, October 15, 2012

What Are You Up To This Weekend?

“What are you up to this weekend?” she asked with an ambivalent smile as she grabbed some cheese puffs from my cart.  I’m sure she was expecting me to say something like “watching the game” or “mowing the lawn”.  I’m also sure it was a canned question she was instructed to ask everyone who reached her cash register as the work week came to a close.  From the look on her face, I knew that my response was one she’d never heard before.

I was battling the clock as I raced to Trader Joe’s after work to pick up some of the Little Dude’s essential items.  I had to be home at 5:00pm sharp and it was already just past 4:30. It would take me 15 minutes to get home which left me barely 10 minutes to get into the store, find everything on Mrs. Dude’s list, and get back in the car.  It was a steamy 99 degrees outside, which made everyone drag a little more than normal, but I had no time to spare.  

I pulled out my iPhone and searched my notes for the needed items. Even though the list contained only a dozen or so items, I could barely remember my name that day let alone what flavor of yogurt I needed to find. My mind was understandably elsewhere.

I headed up the first aisle, grabbing the strawberry yogurt and some fruit snacks, then made a U-turn into the frozen aisle. Grabbing a few items without stopping the cart, I made another quick turn to find a few of the Little Dude’s favorite items were out of stock. The clock was ticking so I headed to the last aisle to find the last two items on the list were also out of stock. I could feel my palms moisten as the anxiety caused by realizing I was out of time kicked in.  The Little Dude would have to get by without his carrot applesauce for a few days.

I raced home for our last family dinner as we knew it. Everything seemed normal, but there was stress in the air.  And Egg Drop Soup. We tried to keep things as normal as possible for the Little Dude that night. He knew what was going on, at least technically, but the extent to which he was able to process it is a mystery. After dinner, we took the dog for a walk, gave our almost-3-year-old his bath, read him some stories and put him to bed. 

Mrs. Dude and I had a lot to finish and the clock was ticking. Would we have enough time?  As I noticed a mountain of unfolded laundry, I realized that we never quite do. We did our best to get everything in order before finally falling asleep around 1:00 AM.

When the alarm clock buzzed just shy of five hours later, I wanted to hit snooze so badly that I would have given my first born for another 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep. But that couldn’t happen, we had an appointment and had to be on time. I felt nervous but excited as I looked across our spacious bed at Mrs. Dude and said “Let’s go have a baby”.

And so we did.

After a few weeks away, I'm excitedly rejoining the YW crew this week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Car Shopping

If I can't get a deal on the Ferrari,
I'm going with the Porsche.

How would you caption this pic?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blog-ternity Leave

Flying blind can take you interesting places. It can also lead to complete disaster. In preparation for the arrival of our second son, I tried to plan out my blog schedule so I'd have enough ready to publish during the weeks after the birth. Then life with a toddler happened, my plans fell apart and I wasn't prepared. And somehow among the 20 hours or so I've been awake each day over the last couple of weeks, very little has been at the computer. And I’m glad.

I appreciate each person who reads this blog. Truly every single one of you. Even more if you leave a comment or tell a friend. And I wanted to share the experience with you in real time. No, not as I was watching Mrs. Dude get sliced open, but close enough.

Two weeks ago, when the baby was born, I was beyond excited and still am over the moon. I had so many stories bouncing around my skull to share with you. But my family needed me. Mrs. Dude, the Little Dude and the Littler Dude* came first, as they should. Between schlepping back and forth to the hospital, preschool, doctor visits and more I haven’t had time to write. And I felt like a part of me was missing. 

The blogging community, of which you are all a part, has been so kind to me for the last 15 months, but I needed some Blog-ternity leave. I took two weeks, which is longer than I took from my real job, but now I’m back.  I’d say I’m reenergized, but let’s face it, I have a 2 week old kid. I have basically no energy at all.

You may be wondering if things will be the same as before, with me publishing new posts 3 or 4 times per week? Stay tuned. Is there anything you want to see more or less of on this blog? Be honest, I can take it.

I’m still flying blind, but it is even sweeter with another passenger along for the ride. As a wise man once said “I sure don’t know what I’m going for, but I’m gonna go for it for sure.”

Your Pal,
The Dude
With my new pal
*Still trying to decide on a name for him. Do you like “Littler Dude”? What about “Mini Dude”? Any other ideas?? Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: The Dudes Meet

"So I'm the Little Dude and you are the Littler Dude. 
Good to meet you, bro."

How would you caption this photo?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Help Name My Baby!

The time has come. After 39.5 long weeks, Mrs. Dude is ready to deliver the well-cooked addition to our family. She and I are beyond thrilled and the Little Dude is finally getting used to the idea of having another kid in the house so we'll see how he adjusts to a roommate.

When I started this blog last year, it was easy to categorize each of my family members: Me (Big Dude), my wife (Mrs. Dude) and my son (Little Dude). But now that we have another Dude joining the squad I need to think of a way to talk about him.

I've thought of several options (like Baby Dude or Littler Dude) but wanted to put it out there and see what you all think. Any and all suggestions are appreciated. Please leave a comment below with your ideas and let's name this kid!  You can help dictate the future direction of this blog. Or at least help remove this task from my plate in anticipation of my looming sleep deprivation.

Does this picture of him give you any inspiration?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Three Little Birds

As we prepare to add another Dude to our little family, there is one song that easily came to mind for this week's Rockin' Friday selection.  Knowing Mrs. Dude has a scheduled C-Section coming up, Bob Marley's Three Little Birds really stuck with me this week after it popped up on my iPod a few days ago.

I was driving to a Dudes' Dinner with my Little Dude when that reggae beat started & Marley began to sing:

Don't worry about a thing
'cause every little thing 
gonna be alright. . . 

There's been a longstanding mystery about whether the song is actually about some birds that used to hang on Marley's doorstep or about his three female backup singers. Either way, as my family grows from three to four, I know what it means to me.

What is your favorite Bob Marley song?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Dr. Evil

Fine, I'll say it again:
One meeeeeeeeelion dollars

How would you caption this picture?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Paternity Leave for Rich Dudes

No, "Paternity Leave for Rich Dudes" does not refer to my upcoming birthing trip to Hawaii.
A very well-off group is now receiving luxurious newborn benefits.
Is it right or wrong?
Check out my latest piece on Draft Day Suit: MLB's Mr. Moms

(Seriously, please check it out, I might win a prize if enough people read my masterpiece.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Hello Old Friend

Now that the Little Dude is almost three years old, he has a plethora of friends, many of whom he’s known his whole life.  He doesn’t see them all regularly, but is often glad to reconnect with long lost pals. This week’s Rockin’ Friday tune of the week is one he could sing to his buddies when he runs into them after an extended period.   

Eric Clapton wrote Hello, Old Friend in 1976 for his fourth solo album. It’s a great song about reconnecting with old faces.  It’s a very atypical pop-style song from a guy known for his masterful electric guitar work, but it works very well thanks to the complementary female backup singers who join Slowhand on the choruses.
Key to the song’s kid-friendliness is the very sing-a-longish above-mentioned chorus:

Hello old friend, It’s really good to see you once again. 

It’s a great song with an important message about keeping your eyes on your surroundings, for you never know when you’ll see something unexpected.  That's true about a lot of things in life.

 What's your favorite Eric Clapton song?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dude of the Week: iPhone 5

This week’s Dude of the Week is the most robotic selection yet. No, it’s not Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba.  The just announced iPhone 5 is Dudely because women want it and men want to be like it. Having caused millions of people to wait eagerly for a year is a pretty hardcore Dude. 
The size difference is, uh, almost noticeable. 
So what if the screen is just half an inch bigger than the previous iPhones. Who cares if Apple has to create ridiculous statements like “iPhone 5 is 20% thinner than iPhone 4S”.  That sounds much more impressive than saying it’s 1.4 millimeters thinner, which pretty much no one without a ruler would probably notice.  It’s also better than saying it’s 0.055118 inches thinner, or roughly the thickness of a stick of Juicy Fruit.  

Analysts have already predicted Apple will sell ten million iPhone 5s in the first 10 days and potentially 50 million by the end of the year.  Perhaps that will lead to greater profits which might someday allow an Apple executive to buy a pair of pants that aren’t jeans.

I’m not bitter because I bought an iPhone 4S when it was released a year ago. I’ll soon have basically the same software. I’ll just see it a little smaller than people with new ones, or one less Angry Bird at a time. Either way, people have been dying for this product, so now they can all finally be happy to buy one.  Until the even-better iPhone 6 comes out . . . 

Do you plan to get an iPhone 5?  Why or Why Not?

If you would like to nominate a Dude that you think would make a good 

Dude of the Week please email me

Remember, it doesn't have to be a man or even a person & 
could be a graphic, sign or other Dudely interpretation.   

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: School

You bet I'm excited for my first day of school! 
What do you mean I have to go for 20 years??

How would you caption this picture?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Dude’s Guide to Surviving Your First Year of Parenthood

I recently shared my words of wisdom with you on how to survive your first pregnancy.  So now that you have made it through the delivery and are home with your adorable bundle of sleep deprivation, you are probably wondering what happens next.  I fully expected my Little Dude to be ready to play when we took him out of the box, so to speak, but I learned the hard way that that’s not how it really works.  So I’ve put together a handy primer on what to expect after you are done expecting, or

The Dude’s Guide to Your First Year of Parenthood:

1)      The first year is boring.  Really boring.  I’m not saying the kid isn’t amazing, because he* undoubtedly is. But if you’re expecting him to do tricks right away, like your puppy did when you brought him home, then you will be very disappointed.  In fact, you shouldn’t expect much activity from him at all for at least 6 months. You know the saying “a watched pot never boils”? It’s sort of the same thing here but with less scalding water and many more unpleasant excretions.

2)      Go to parks. You may feel depressed as you watch bigger kids running and playing on the swings and jungle gym while your little lump is just drooling on his Sophie, but the fresh air is good for him and soon enough he’ll be the one on the slide and you’ll be the experienced veteran who the other new parents will want to trade places with.  
Me with 6 month old Little Dude and an empty playground.
3)      Be flexible. As long as you feed, change and wash the baby on a semi-regular basis (each at least once a week), there’s a good chance he won’t break. Let him adjust to your schedule, not the other way around. If you assume he will sleep at the same exact time every day, you may get lucky. Or you may end up with a Gremlin who becomes evil after midnight.

4)      Speaking of sleep, the baby needs a lot of it.  Especially in the beginning. Who says it can’t occur while you are at a movie, restaurant, or roller derby? If you train the baby to only sleep at home in a quiet room where the temperature is exactly 72 degrees, then you will end up with cabin fever faster than an Eskimo in an avalanche.

5)      Don’t lose your mind. Once the sleep deprivation kicks in, you won’t remember your middle name half the time, let alone when you last changed or fed the baby. Get an itzbeen**. Hit a button to start a timer reminding you exactly when you last changed his diaper (among other things) and you won’t have a baby sitting in more rancid liquid than a month-old matzah ball.  
6)       Read to your kid. You will be so sick of Goodnight Moon within a few weeks that you wish the two little kittens would attack the old lady that’s whispering hush just to make things interesting for a change, but it’s good for the baby to get both the bonding time with you and the vocabulary stimulation. You will start to think Dr. Seuss is really Dr. Kevorkian as you grow bored to tears reading Hop on Pop for the millionth time, but your little one will like it and one day be glad you suffered for him.

7)      Play good music for your baby. If you think typical kids’ music is enjoyable, then maybe you should get checked out by Dr. Seuss. Or Dr. Kevorkian. There is a ton of great rock music that works very well for kids: The Beatles, Bob Marley and Phish just to name a few.  Believe me, the 10th time in a row you hear Buffalo Soldier is infinitely better than the 10th consecutive round of Baby Beluga. (And check my “Rockin’ Friday” blog posts every week for a great song your kid will love. Guaranteed to please or your money back.)

8)      There are a million milestones you’ll consider earth-shattering.   Most really aren’t. First steps or first tooth, sure. First bite of asparagus?  Not so much. Put things in perspective and focus on things that the kid will want to remember someday, not trivial things that will bore even the most biased grandparents.
First time in a Bumbo...who cares?!
9)      Don’t make your friends hate you.  I mean Facebook friends, of course.  Sharing a few pictures here and there is one thing. Uploading 50 pictures three times a week will clog News Feeds and surely earn you a few well-deserved De-friendings.

10)   TV won’t kill them. I’m not talking about a 12-hour Jersey Shore marathon. Lord knows that could turn an astrophysicist’s brain into Jell-o halfway through. But there is nothing wrong with a few minutes of screen time here and there if it’s something educational that might benefit them in the long run.  And you in the short term if you need to take a shower for the first time in three days.

What advice would you give to first-time new parents?

*= I use “he” to refer to the child because that’s what I have. Also, I hate saying “he or she” repeatedly. This list applies to female infants, as well.

**= itzbeen didn’t pay me to say that, though I wouldn’t mind if they did. Or at least sent me a new itzbeen for Baby #2. Their product truly helped restore sanity in my house on a daily basis during the Little Dude’s first year.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Another Brick

This week marked an interesting new chapter in the Little Dude’s life: he started preschool.  Day 1 went off without a hitch and he has been very excited about going back.  So this week’s Rockin’ Friday tune is inspired by the return to classes and teachers.

Though the Little Dude’s preschool probably isn’t quite like the school mentioned in the song, this week’s tune is Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall (part II).  Taken from Floyd’s epic album The Wall, the song is about a rebellion of students versus their demanding teachers. 

Rocking a killer disco rhythm atypical of most Floyd music, Another Brick is one of Pink Floyd’s most successful singles and well-known songs. The schoolchildren singing “We don’t need no education” is both ironic and powerful.  And the teachers telling the students that they “can’t have any pudding if they don’t eat their meat” is a sign of their oppression. Dessert should always be first.

What's your favorite school-themed song?