Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Try Again For The Girl

I don’t usually pretend to be a psychic, but one thing I’ve long known based on pure intuition was that when Mrs. Dude and I started having kids, we would only have boys. Though there was no science behind it, there was some reasoning that seemed logical to me, and possibly a little bit of desire. My brother and sister and their spouses have 5 kids between them, 4 of whom are girls.  And since all 5 of my nieces and nephews were born before my kids, I figured it was up to me to even things out a bit. At this point, I’d say it’s unlikely that Mrs. Dude and I will have any more kids, but if for some reason we do, I already know it would be another boy. And that is just fine with me.
I knew the Littler Dude would be a boy even before seeing that little circle near the top left. 
It’s not that I don’t like girls, nor would I have minded having some as my children, it’s just that having boys made sense for my family. To numerous others, there was some question, even though it was really none of their business nor did they have any, skin in the game, so to speak.

With our first pregnancy, we didn’t find out the baby’s gender in advance of delivery (not that I needed to, I was that sure). And invariably during that pregnancy the first two questions Mrs. Dude and I were asked by strangers and non-strangers alike were “When are you due?” and “What are you having?”, which are both pretty standard. The first question is easy enough to answer. The second one is trickier because so many people, especially strangers, are so unnecessarily nosy. I learned that if you tell someone that you chose to not find out the baby’s gender, the belly invariably become subjects for observation, usually followed up by a meaningless anecdote. Whether it’s via random pronouncement with no basis in anything: “You’re having a girl!” Or the people who believe in the old wives tales which also hold no logical or scientific basis in reality: “You’re carrying low, so it’s a boy!” Of course 5 minutes later you will likely run into some other kook who says carrying low means it’s a girl. Again, that stuff is pointless.

With our second pregnancy, Mrs. Dude wanted to learn the gender in advance. Mainly to find out if we’d have to buy new baby clothes or not. So I figured the inevitable inquisitions by these random people would be more cut and dry this time. But I was wrong. The expected first two questions led to a new, and in my opinion ridiculous, third question that usually went something like this:

“Oh, another boy? Are you going to try again for a girl?”

Why people get so nosy and touchy-feely around pregnant people is a mystery, but a question like this is just unnecessary. Maybe I’m trying to breed the next big Boy Band and having a girl would radically alter my master plan for The Five Dudes. Maybe we’re trying to clone the first kid. Whatever the case, why is having a girl necessary? If I’d heard this question only once, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But it became such a common occurrence, that I realized it must be a common perception that a family is incomplete unless both genders are represented.  

I’ve asked a few people why they asked the question and have received answers like “don’t you want to have at least one of each” or “don’t you want a kid for your wife to enjoy”. Um, what? Do you think she’s not able to enjoy the ones she already birthed because they are measly boys? And really, would girls be that much better? I’m thankful we’ll never have a Girl Scout in our midst. Lord only knows what would happen if I had open access to cases of Do-Si-Dos. And then there’s this experience that my friend Kevin McKeever, from the great blog “Always Home& Uncool” endured with his teenage daughter recently. That alone makes me consider a vasectomy just to be safe.

Having a child is a miracle of life and Mrs. Dude and I are very fortunate to have two happy and healthy boys. Even though I knew we’d only have boys, I’d have been thrilled to have two girls if fate had played out that way. But it just wasn’t in the cards for us. And I don’t think having a girl just for the sake of evening things out would change anything for me, or make sense in any logical way, so I’ll stick with boys. After all, it was my 10 year old nephew, himself a brother to a sister, who summed it up perfectly upon meeting his cousin the newborn Littler Dude for the first time when he said “The Little Dude is so lucky to have a brother!” I couldn’t agree more.  

Are you happy with the gender(s) your kids are? Do you wish you'd gotten a different variety?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rockin' Friday: Light My Fire

I’ve taken a break from posting Rockin’ Friday tunes lately, not for lack of supply of great Rock songs that kids will also like. But rather, I’ve been stuck on a few songs lately and haven’t exposed the Little Dude, my primary test audience, to many new tunes lately. But this week is an exception, for better or worse.

Ray Manzarek died this week at the age of 74. Casual music fans are probably more familiar with his infinitely more famous bandmate who died 40+ years ago, Jim Morrison. But it was Manzarek’s revolutionary organ playing in the late 1960s and early ‘70s that gave The Doors their rhythm and framework for composition. Though not a “Jam Band”, so to speak, they definitely dabbled in exploratory music and Ray was the leader of that, in my opinion.

It was hard to pick a song that featured exemplary Ray Manzarek organ playing, because he was such an integral part of the band. But after debating options like Riders on the Storm, where he made his instrument replicate the falling rain, I settled on Light on Fire. A #1 hit in 1967, Light My Fire, features incredible Manzarek playing throughout; especially the intro which he said was inspired by the work of Bach.  Clocking in at over 7 minutes long, the song goes through several ups and downs which lead to incredible crescendos by the whole band.  No one did it better on the organ, Ray. You’ll be missed.

Here’s a version of the classic Light My Fire. RIP, Ray Manzarek.  

What's your favorite Doors' tune?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Not My Final Blog Post

In my recent blog post titled My Final Blog Post, I talked about some issues I've grappled with lately and how that frustration has impacted not only my psyche, but also my blogging. I also talked about my desire to spend more time with my kids than blogging about them and truly thought that my 195th post might be my swan song. 

In that post, I shared some more-revealing-than-usual thoughts with my audiences throughout the social media world and was blown away by the response. I received nothing but support and encouragement from a much larger than expected number of people. Some are bloggers who I know in real life and have gone through similar scenarios. Some are people I only know in cyberspace who took the time to encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing as long as I feel my priorities are in order. 

I received several notes on my Facebook timeline and on Google+, which I was convinced no one ever looks at, but also private emails from people who'd said that I'd helped them through their own parenting struggles via my posts. That I'd made them laugh and cry when I've done both of those things, too. That my stories about parenting encouraged them to take a closer look at their own relationships and how they get along with their families. I was stunned. 

All this time, I thought I was doing something wrong, but the reality is the exact opposite of that. I was doing things right, but looking at them the wrong way. This blog is simply a tool, a conduit for me to express my thoughts, feelings, dreams and aspirations. It's a place that the Little & Littler Dudes can look back upon one day many years from now on their Google Eyeballs or iHelmets and see how their lives were in times that they certainly won't remember. 

It's taken me almost two years to figure out what this blog is "about". I've been asked that question countless times, and have always answered something like "it's about me raising my Junior Dudes and our wacky adventures...". And that is partially accurate. But I've recently discovered the real answer, which is that it's about my journey down the long road to happiness. Life isn't easy and raising a family isn't either. Throw in some career transitions like I’ve had and you've got a recipe for Life Jambalaya.  Over the last two years I've been hyper-focused on page views, LIKEs, Tweets and all kinds of things that don't really matter as much as me just having a place to be me and talk about my favorite people in the world. 

If you want to join me on my journey, I'd love to have you along for the ride. It will likely be very turbulent, but I will try my best to make it fun, too. Hold on to your hat, I have a feeling it’s going to be a long strange trip.  

Me and my inspiration,
aka the Junior Dudes

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Mothers Day Correlation

In case you missed it, Mothers’ Day was Sunday and I have a little different perspective on it than I did last year.  In my post last year, I mentioned my mother and wife, but failed to mention one more important mother in my life, my grandmother (my mother’s mother). She had a tremendous influence on me growing up, and was the only grandparent I ever really knew. Sadly she passed away just 3 days after Mother’s Day last year and is certainly missed this year.

I still miss my mother, and that will likely never change, but now her spirit is back with us in a different way. It’s a Jewish custom to name a newborn after a deceased family member, which is supposed to cause some sort of metaphysical connection between two people whose lives never crossed. I know that sounds like something from an episode of LOST, but trust me, it’s a thing.  

When the Littler Dude was born last fall, he received the same initials that my mother had and they will now be forever linked.  And so far, after 7 months, he is showing signs of sharing some similar traits with his namesake. Here are a few:

·        Lack of sleep: My mother was never a very sound sleeper. Neither is the Littler Dude. That was rough for her and now continues for us. 

·         Love of family: My mother’s favorite thing in the world was being around her family, especially her kids and grandkids, even if they were getting rowdy. The Littler Dude loves being held and often doesn’t like when Mrs. Dude or I put him down for a break. Even if he is immediately smushed like a pancake by his older brother, the Little Dude.

·         Laughter: My mother was a big sitcom fan, as am I, and would frequently watch late-night reruns of classic shows she’d loved the first 20 times she’d seen them. The Littler Dude cackles hysterically when his big brother sings and dances for him, even if it’s the same made-up-on-the-spot song and dance for the 50th time that day.

·         Appetite: My mother always made unique food combos for herself, like cold chicken for breakfast (one of her faves). The Littler Dude has yet to taste a food he doesn’t like, including Gerber puree classics like Chicken & Apples or Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Raisins (bleh).

·         Toughness: My mother faced health issues almost since birth and battled cancer with ever fiber of her being. The Littler Dude gets repeatedly squashed, rolled and folded in half by his older brother. Neither one of them complains about the adversity they’ve faced.

We have a long way to go, but so far the Littler Dude is living up to his namesake’s legacy. And with another Mother’s Day now passed, I am thankful to be able to spend it with the amazing mother of my children. Her patience with all three Dudes (both big and small) that she lives with is inexplicable, unrivaled and beyond appreciated.  Happy Mothers’ Day, Mrs. Dude!

Happy Mothers Day from the Dude family to you and yours!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Final Blog Post?

When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I was doing it to scratch an itch to write that captivated me during college and inspired my move to Los Angeles 12 years earlier. I really didn’t think anyone would ever read anything I wrote. Even the lovely Mrs. Dude rarely even reads my posts unless I specifically point one out to her. It’s not that she’s not interested, it’s because she’s busy. And so am I, which is both the reason I haven’t blogged much lately and also why I’m not sure if I will continue to do so for very much longer.

My first blog post was written when the Little Dude was 19 months old and still napped in 3 hour blocks every afternoon. He continued that pattern throughout my first year of blogging, which always gave me plenty of time to write about the hi-lar-ious things toddlers do. But last summer everything changed. First, we moved him from a crib to a big-boy bed. And second, his brother, the Littler Dude, was born.

At face value, I assumed that neither of those events would have much impact on my schedule but I couldn’t have been more wrong. When no longer bound to the spatial limitations and high walls of his beloved baby cage, the Little Dude deemed that naps were no longer necessary, much to the chagrin of his mother and me. But there was nothing we could do. We tried forcing the issue, but if he fell asleep it was for a very short time and we usually had to spend a longer period just trying to get him to go to sleep than the duration of the actual sleep. So we cut out naps and instituted an afternoon chill period, which usually consisted of watching Toy Story or Toy Story 2. Every freakin’ day. And as someone who is easily distracted, I have a hard time focusing with a lot of external noise nearby, even if it’s just Buzz and Woody, so I started writing at night after he went to bed. That time block was subsequently eradicated a month later when the Littler Dude arrived. Goodbye, blog.

In a Facebook post shortly before baby #2 arrived, I asked my page what to do to prepare for our new arrival. Beyond countless people urging me to sleep, sleep and sleep, a blogger friend named The Robot Mommy suggested I stockpile blog posts for when I had no time to write. I shrugged that off, telling myself that #2 was bound to be the good sleeper his brother was, so I’d have plenty of free time.  And the Littler Dude is a decent napper, but there is only one problem: his brother is still awake during those nap periods. And with energetic 3 ½ year old toddlers there is minimal downtime. I’m just thankful for the Pixar DVD catalog for some small respites it has brought me and Mrs. Dude over the last seven months.

So my struggle to find free time has definitely hindered my creative productivity. And I hate that. But I’ve been thinking a lot about a “chicken or egg” conundrum that has furthered my inactivity around these parts. The big question is: should I spend more time away from my kids to focus on my blog about parenting, or should I spend that time actually parenting my kids so that I have something to blog about even though I’ll subsequently have no time to write it?

I started this blog at a major crossroads in my life. My mother had recently passed away. I was just starting a promising job opportunity. I had started writing again after an extended break and inspiration grabbed me like a whirlwind and wouldn’t let go. Oh, and I had a spirited pre-toddler on my hands. Seemed like a Royal Flush, but now two years later I have a Full House and don’t know what to do.

That job didn’t turn out how I thought it would and now I have begun searching for a new opportunity. My blog has seen its share of ups and downs. I’ve had several exciting blogging opportunities come around, but haven’t hit the big time yet, not that I ever expected to. But I am responsible for 3 mouths to feed, beyond my own which is the lowest priority, and now must begin anew. Again. I have started putting out feelers again, but haven’t yet found that great job that will send me to Hawaii on a monthly basis to write about the quality of massages at luxury hotels. So now I have a greater conundrum on my hands. Do I spend my time focusing on raising my family and blogging about it or finding a better way to support this family, so that we can move onward and upward and finally begin living the life we’ve always wanted. Mrs. Dude and I have got the two great kids and our health and those are two remarkably lucky things. It’s just everything else that we now find ourselves searching for. Will I find it on my computer screen after another endless web search? Or might it be lurking in the satisfaction of helping the Little Dude learn to read?

In an ironic coincidence, as I was typing that last sentence and trying to think of a way to wrap this up, the Little Dude just arrived home from the park and excitedly ran in to see me, so my writing time is over for today. But one look at his smiling face makes it all worthwhile and reminds me why I do the things I do. All of them. I’ll be back soon to tell you more. . .

What would you do if put in my position? 

Know anyone looking for an experienced witty, handsome & creative person 
to join your awesome company's team?  Email me HERE

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rockin' Friday: I Got You

Today would have been the 80th birthday of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. One of the greatest performers that Rock has ever witnessed, Brown was a trailblazer who combined Rock, Soul and R&B to create a totally original sound.

This week's Rockin' Friday tune is Brown's classic I Got You (I Feel Good). With its notable sax solo by the legendary Maceo Parker, this tune exemplified Brown's unique  Funk arrangements and simple but complex lyrics. A song about happiness caused by being in love. What could be easier than that? But Brown managed to mix it up and give it some real flavor.

I Got You was one of Brown's biggest "hits" of his career, reaching #3 on the charts in 1965. But Brown managed to build a great career without being a pop sensation. His shouts on this tune, and many of his others, influenced generations of soul, funk and hip-hop stars. And Eddie Murphy.

Here's a great live performance by James Brown, notable for both his incredible voice 
and even better glasses. Enjoy: 

What's your favorite James Brown tune?