“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss
It’s Read Across America Day! 20 years ago, it was decided to create a day of celebration to get families and children excited about reading. And since the Dr. is such a household name, they decided to hold the celebration on his birthday, March 2nd.
I know everyone loves to showcase their best Dr. Seuss inspired crafts, projects, costumes, etc.— and I totally love them! But today isn’t just about him, it’s about reading in general. And I’ve got a feeling that Dr. Seuss wouldn’t mind sharing his birthday celebration with any author who is out there trying to better this world, one story at a time— just like he did.
UPDATE: My friend Katie (founder of The Conscious Kid) brought this to my attention about Dr. Seuss and it really struck a chord. Warning: this is extremely offensive and disturbing content: A Call To Action To The NEA: Read Across America Day, the Racist History of Dr. Seuss & What it Means in Today’s Social, Political, & Educational Context
“I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, But down here at the bottom, we, too, should have rights.” – Dr. Seuss
In a world that becomes increasingly divided, it is so important to teach our children about inclusion and love that has no prerequisites.
And what’s the best way to raise your kids to love and celebrate diverse people, cultures, and lifestyles? Read books to them that celebrate people, cultures, and lifestyles that are different than their own.
My dear friend, Katie, started an incredible non-profit with her husband called The Conscious Kid. Their mission is to reduce bias and empower youth through “diverse children’s books featuring positive, empowering & authentic depictions of characters from underrepresented & oppressed groups.” (theconsciouskid.org)
It’s a subscription library — think Stitch Fix, but for books — allowing you to enjoy three new books each month without ever needing to walk through long aisles combing indexes and keeping your voices down.
In fact, you can cheer as loud as you want when each month’s books come to your doorstep, without fear of some older librarian in oversized glasses telling you to “Shhhhh!”. And at the end of the month when you’re ready to get your next shipment in, you just put the current borrowed ones in the prepaid return envelope provided and get ready to jump for joy over your next books.
But the best thing about this subscription is that it’s something you can do to make this world a better place and raise inclusive children who love and embrace everyone.
Most books that we find in stores have white, middle class protagonists, who all speak similarly and act similarly to white dominant culture.
I did a little recon on this and went through my own children’s book collection. Many of our books were given to us, so I felt like we had a wide range of diversity. But to my surprise, I only found three books out of 50+ that had even the slightest nod. One was a book about children with disabilities, another was a short book in Spanish, and the last really doesn’t count, because it just showed different ethnicities on two of the 6 pages (not including the cover).
If our children are never exposed to anything outside of themselves, they are being indirectly told that nothing outside of what they know is as important or valuable. After all, if it was, wouldn’t they be learning about it and exposed to it?
That’s one of the many reasons I feel like The Conscious Kid is so important. With this new subscription, we are exposed to books of all diversities, allowing my children to learn about the world outside of themselves, and giving me the proper tools to teach them from a viewpoint other than my own.
Rather than trying to blindly find diverse books to add to our own library, I have the experts at The Conscious Kid hand selecting them for me. And I am already so excited about the books we have received and can’t wait to buy our own personal copies of them to add to our bookshelves.
(Image from The Conscious Kid)
Many people who hate and reject do so because they don’t understand and fear the unknown. But if you expose your children to lifestyles and cultures and people that are different than they are, then those things will no longer be unknown to them, and the cycle of irrational fear will halt.
Join me in raising children who are brave. Brave enough to love, brave enough to trust, brave enough to defend.
Let us raise them to include. To sit with the lonely, to help the needy, to befriend the outcasted.
We have a remarkable opportunity to change the world, and it starts with showing our children what this place could be like if everyone loved one another. You can do that through reading, and I hope you’ll join me in teaching your children— through books, that “a person’s a person no matter how small.” No matter what ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or culture, or lifestyle.
A person is a person. And it’s up to us to make sure our children know that.
We all hear about the terrible twos and threenager stage, but I once had a friend explain to me that four is where the real chaos starts, and as we creep up on D’s birthday I’ll just say this— the struggle is real.
“Why” and “No, I’m not going to” have taken reign over my son’s vocabulary like an alien in a host body.
I never would have thought that someone would question me so extensively and upsettingly about mundane things like stopping at the gas station or putting on the socks with two grey stripes instead of three, but alas, it appears that mother does not know best and that my almost four year old is positive he’s got this world figured out. And hey, maybe he’s right.
After months of losing my cool and then promptly hating myself for it, I finally decided to step back and get some perspective.
Kids do what they want to do. They are instinctive to a fault. They rarely question something’s safety or social acceptability. They just live. They simply love life. That is, until we convince them to question, fear, and conform to it.
And no, I’m not saying that we should all live in anarchy and just do whatever the hell we please without any thought to the consequences. I’m not saying we should wake up the whole house at 3:30 am because we really want to play with our drums and we don’t care about what stage of the REM cycle anyone else is in. Or that we should stick to a strict diet of ice cream and Oreos without considering the very real possibility of Diebetes.
As adults, our knowledge is what allows us to succeed. But it is also blinds us to the beauty of this world. To the simplicity. We have gotten so damn complicated that we tend to forget about our most basic human wants and needs.
Have you seen the movie Trolls, yet? If not, go grab it. It just came out on DVD and no, I’m not partnered with them. I just love that movie and think everyone should see it.
Anyway, in the movie, the main character Poppy (Anna Kendrick) goes on an adventure to save her friends from a Bergen that has captured them and wants to eat them. Although she has never done anything even remotely like that before, she is confident and optimistic and ready to take on the world with her glass half full mentality.
Branch (Justin Timberlake) who joins her, is the polar opposite of Poppy. He is pessimistic and sarcastic and sees everything through a “worst case scenario” lense.
While on this wild adventure to save their friends, Branch finds that true happiness has been inside of him all along and that he just needed someone (Poppy) to show it to him.
Friends, our children are the Poppy’s of this world, and they are trying to remind our grumpy Branch hearts what true happiness is.
When I realized this, my life started to change.
I started to care less about what was socially acceptable and more about what would bring joy to the people around me. I started singing in grocery stores and having dance parties at the park and talking to more strangers. I let my children’s light shine through me, to serve as inspiration for the kind of person I should be, instead of getting frustrated with them for simply being who they are at times that felt inappropriate or annoying.
And the biggest thing I’ve done is implement hourly hug time.
In the movie, all of the Trolls wear these little watches that go off once an hour letting them know it’s time to hug.
So, to combat the tantrums that both my kids and myself seem to throw on any given day, I decided to take a page out of the Troll handbook and hug my children every single hour, on the hour.
I set alarms in my phone with a whimsical tone, and they go off from 6 am- 6 pm.
No matter what we are doing— arguing, grocery shopping, etc. — we stop and hug. I hug them while I’m in the middle of teaching a fitness class, with my hands covered in cooking ingredients, and we even “hand hug” if we are driving.
Did you know that hugs produce the love hormone oxytocin which helps to improve your physical and mental health?
I’ve been hugging my kids every hour on the hour for over a week and a half and I can honestly say it has had such a positive impact on our lives.
In fact, Declan can be mid-tantrum but when he hears that tone, he swings his arms open, grins from ear to ear, and yells, “HUG TIME!” while running to each of us for a nice big embrace.
Declan loves on his brother more now as well. The rule is, everyone gets a hug. And even my 18 month old opens his arms and lets us in for an hourly cuddle.
Outside of our hugging moments, I’ve noticed that we are all in better moods thoroughout the day. There has been less yelling, less tantrums, and less stress.
Needless to say, hug time is here to stay in my house! If you’ve been struggling with tantrums, or stress, or really anything— give it a try. Set some alarms on your phone, choose a fun tone with it that is upbeat and will excite everyone, and get your hug on. And then let me know how it goes. I hope this method works as wonderfully for you as it has for us!
I shutter to think of the hollow shell of a woman I was seven months ago. I was elbow deep in postpartum depression and I wrote something that had a much stronger impact than I ever could have anticipated. I can pinpoint this as my lowest moment— when my entire world was rocked by my words.
Everything I knew was being challenged and I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I was out of a job before I had even begun, people who had no ties to the situation were holding it over my head like an unforgivable sin, and I was reminded that things are not always as they seem— as my quest to shine light on an issue resulted in me doing the very thing I was trying to fight against. It was a brutal reminder that life is not black and white and that actions, however well meaning, have consequences.
I’ve blossomed since then. The upside to having your world turned around is that it forces you to look at yourself from another angle. From upside down, I could see the spots in my heart that needed to change.
And so, I got to work.
I realized that the first step to changing the world is to better yourself. We tend to leave ourselves unscathed when we are on a mission of philanthropy, because we believe that our hearts are already good enough. But good enough was no longer going to be good enough for me. So I checked my inhibitions at the door and started searching for more.
The most important thing I began doing every single day, was changing the way I spoke to myself. Have you ever noticed the things you say to yourself/about yourself to others? The words I spoke of myself daily are things I would never dare utter about another person, so why on earth did I deem them appropriate to say to my own heart?
How can I claim to be a kind person when I can’t even be kind to myself? I couldn’t— and it was time to change that.
I began speaking words of affirmation, twice a day and this changed my soul from the inside, out.
I am strong.
I am worthy.
I am the best mother for my children.
I am a wonderful wife.
I am kind.
I am patient.
I am capable.
I am beautiful.
My body is perfect because it gave me the greatest joys of my life.
I see the good in others.
I can make a difference.
I am stronger than the urges to put myself or others down.
I am a safe space for others.
I will speak up immediately when I see someone being mistreated and I will do so with kindness.
My past does not define me.
They can vary on any given day, but you get this jist.
At first, I felt silly— embarrassed even, despite nobody being able to hear me when I recited them. But after about a week of committing myself to working through the feelings of insecurity and silliness, I noticed that I was smiling more. I was giving out more compliments to others. I had more patience. Even the way I hugged people changed.
My cousin once told me that I had the softest hugs of anyone she’s ever known. It made me wonder why I chose to restrain myself in this act of affection with people— because I knew that the volume of my love was not reflected in those soft little hugs. I’ve realized now, that it was a defense mechanism I had developed years ago.
My shields are all down today, and when I embrace people, I do so with my whole heart.
These changes all came from speaking to myself with kindness.
Does your heart need a little TLC?
It’s time to start talking to yourself the way you’d want others to talk about you at your funeral— with the upmost love and respect.
Use my affirmations and add your own. Print them out and stick that sheet of paper on your bathroom mirror, or refrigerator, or the back of your toddlers shirt. I don’t care where you put it, just get it in writing and get it up in your face somewhere.
And then read it, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Shout them, whisper them, sing them— just make sure to say them aloud.
Words hold so much power. They can move us to tears, lead men & women into war, and ignite change.
If your heart is struggling, do this, and watch it transform.
This world needs more love— and it starts with showing love to ourselves.
Over the weekend my family and I had the opportunity to attend the Ice Age: Collision Course Media Event at Discovery Cube in Santa Ana. We love the Discovery Cube and all of the Ice Age movies, so I was really excited to get a VIP look into the newest movie and the exhibits that related to it.
The event kicked off with breakfast, where the kiddos got to meet Scrat. Declan wasn’t too sure about him at first, but once Scrat waved at him, he warmed right up.
Am I the only one that thinks he’s one of the funniest characters of all time? Those wild eyes just crack me up!
After breakfast we got a behind-the-scenes look at the new movie, Ice Age: Collision Course, with a special features presentation by the director of the film— Galen Chu. It was really cool to hear about the character and scene development process straight from the director’s mouth.
We got to watch some deleted scenes, as well as hear about all of the research they did on space for the film, how they created their color concepts, etc.
Next, we got to practice drawing Scrat and other characters ourselves, with the help of Story Artist Jony Chandra.
I doubt Galen Chu will be knocking on my door anytime soon to replace Jony Chandra as a story artist, but my Scrat didn’t turn out too bad!
The final stretch of the presentation was a real world look at how “Scrat’s antics” impacted the space world that we know today. UCLA professor Abby Kavner passed around various rocks for us to touch and feel, including the oldest known space rocks to date.
After the presentation, we got a chance to see the science behind the inspiration for the film, in various exhibits throughout the cube. Our guide Cassie, showed Declan how to launch a mission into space.
We explored weather patterns, relived catastrophic earthquakes, and observed how our earth is predicted to look years into the future at the Planetary Research Station— seeing the science behind the phenomenons the Ice Age: Collision Course bunch deal with in the movie.
And we got to learn about the Science of Hockey, which is the gangs favorite pass time in the movie.
© 2016 FOX. All Rights Reserved.
I love how the Discovery Cube’s exhibits give a deeper look into the world of this film. Teaching kids to connect something fun they see in a movie to science is such a great way to get them excited about learning.
The kids were WIPED OUT at the end of the day from so much fun, which was an added bonus!
Thank you to Discovery Cube OC for hosting such a wonderful event. They gifted us with the new Ice Age: Collision Course DVD, and we popped it in the moment we got home. As we watched, we reminded Declan of the exhibits we had visited as they applied to the scenes, and he LOVED it!
Such a fun day and such a great movie. Make sure to check out these awesome exhibits along with many others at Discovery Cube OC, and don’t forget to grab a copy of the new Ice Age movie, which is available on DVD tomorrow!
© 2016 FOX. All Rights Reserved.
With New Heroes, Worlds and Adventures Available October 11 on Blu-rayTM, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD Disc
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE
Your favorite ICE AGE heroes are back and cooler than ever in this all-new adventure! Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn accidently triggers cosmic events that threaten the ICE AGE world. Now Buck, Manny, Ellie, Sid, Diego and the rest of the herd must work together on a hilarious journey filled with nonstop action and colorful new characters in order to survive the global Scrat-tastrophe!
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE Blu-rayTM & DVD Special Features Include:
o “Scrat: Spaced Out Mini-Movie”
o “Ice Age: The Story So Far”
o “Scratasia: Scrat’s Solo Adventures”
o “Mysteries of the Scratazons”
o “Star Signs of the Animal Kingdom”
o “The Science of It All: deGrasse Tyson deBunks” o “Figaro Sing-along”
Though summertime may be coming to a close, many regions throughout the U.S. will continue to experience warm weather and the skin irritations that come with it. Many of us have experienced the itchiness of dry skin and bug bites, and the pain of blistering and peeling sunburns. It’s important that everyone take precautions for their skin, but it’s especially crucial to keep babies and children safe from these unpleasant conditions. To keep the rest of the season fun for all, here are some tips you should consider.
Safeguard from Sun and Chlorine
The sun can do considerable damage to a child’s skin, but there are some quick and easy tips you can take to lower the possibility of any damage to that delicate skin. Try to keep your child out of direct sunlight. The shade is definitely your friend; find it as often as possible.
Wide-brimmed hats are a great way to keep the sun off your child’s face and neck. And don’t forget about your child’s eyes. Keep them protected with sunglasses, a definite must-have. And of course, don’t forget sunscreen. Be sure to test any new sunscreen on a small area of your child’s body to be sure there isn’t an allergic reaction (their back is a great spot).
Your youngster’s skin can become dry and itchy after taking a dip in the pool. Dry skin (and hair) will soak up more of the chlorinated water found in many swimming pools, so always rinse your child off before pool time. Rinsing off after playing in the pool is also a requisite to avoid dry, itchy skin. One essential way to protect your child’s skin is to make sure the pools they’re swimming in have the proper levels of pool chemicals. Check your own regularly and ask what levels are maintained at your local public pool (if that’s where you’ll be spending most of your swim time).
Buzzing bugs are a major annoyance, and the bites they leave behind can be painfully unpleasant. To help avoid these troublesome bug bites, dress your child in light-colored clothing, which will help you see and remove some of those aggravating pests. Avoid scented soaps as well; they will, without a doubt, attract the bugs.
Dry Skin Protection
One general tip for avoiding dry skin is to make your child’s bath time shorter. It’s also a good idea to use fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser, as fragrances and soap can be irritating to your child’s skin. A thick moisturizer is also a great way to prevent dry, flaky skin. And always be sure your child is drinking plenty of water; staying hydrated is key on sweltering days.
An Enjoyable, Worry-Free Summer
Summer time should equal fun times and fond memories. To have these happy, long-lasting memories, it’s important to keep everyone safe and healthy. Some of the biggest spoilers for warm weather include sunburns, dry skin, and bug bites. These essential tips for skin safety will keep your child’s sensitive skin problem-free.
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.
Image via Pixabay by Pexels
“Dadda, you gotta snuggles me.”
Ten minutes pass, or at least what feels like ten minutes. Who really knows/or is brave enough to open their eyes and accidentally make eye contact.
“Dadda I gotta go pee pee on da potty. You don’t come.”
Twelve footsteps down the hall and 8 seconds pass.
“Dadda you come help. DADDA YOU HELP ME!”
In a whisper, “ok ok buddy. Be quiet. Momma and Benny boo are sleeping.”
I tip toe out of the room and down the hall to find Declan doing his best to make his “pee pee” into the toilet.
His best, of course, results with half in the bowl and half on his undies, still around his little ankles.
“Dadda you help me?”
“Sure thing buddy.”
I help get him dressed into something a little more…well…less covered in “pee pee”.
Once dressed, he bolts to the couch and demands one of his three rotational shows.
This is how our days start. A bonding moment of father and son just trying to master what so many of us take for granted. An early morning rise of excitement from one, and a sleepy eyed might-as-well-embrace-it attitude from another.
“Ok buddy, dada is gonna take a shower. You stay here and let me know if you need anything.”
Step into shower to hopefully wash away the sleepies and get my day going right.
“Ouch what the $%^& son of a B%^&* WHY ARE THERE LEGOS IN THE SHOWERRRRR!”
Don’t worry that is uttered under my breath and only screamed within my own head…most of the time.
As I kick the toys in the shower to the corner, I soak my head and pray daily.
I pray for a lot of things.
I reflect about a lot of things.
And I try to be grateful for the throbbing pain in my foot from that damn Red Lego still in our shower.
I am grateful for being a dad.
Some people can say what they have always dreamed of becoming.
I wanted to be a Dr., until I was told I wasn’t smart enough.
I wanted to be an architect, until I was told how much school would cost.
I wanted to be an FBI agent, until I watched Silence of the Lambs.
But of all my wants I have always known I NEED to be a dadda.
From a very young age, I dreamed of having a family.
Having kids and being a part of their lives.
One could assume it was a way to deal with my own abandonment issues.
But I simply do not think that’s the case. My father was never around, but I still had an awesome dad who taught me how to ride a bike, catch, play Horse, and that even men cry.
My mom stepped in as a father figure too. She went to every game and yelled at the refs. She didn’t baby me when I fell off my bike, and most importantly, she trusted me to make right decisions. Even when I made the wrong ones she was there on my side.
Back to being a dadda…
It was ingrained into me. The thought of someone being a part of me who can ultimately surpass me in every way, excites me.
These two little monsters that are so incredibly different can be the absolute best of me in so many incredible ways.
They make the stepping on the Green Lego so worth it.
Park in the driveway. Lock car. Walk to front door. Keys out. Rattling door handle to unlock.
“Benny Benny Boo Boo whatcha doing!!!”
My excitement to see my boys fills the air and in return I get the Wyatt Earp waddle as fast as he can coming towards me and a hit or miss three year old who can’t wait to tell me about his oh so busy day.
(By busy I mean 8 hours of figuring out every button momma has and how to push them).
It’s these moments that make the Yellow Lego so worth it.
It’s become abundantly clear that bath time is guy’s time.
Momma can now start to unwind and start dinner while Dadda gaffles up the troops and gets the water going.
“Declan do you want bubbles?”
“No dada no bubbles. I want to take a baff too!”
After the water has filled, the turbulence has settled, and without skipping a beat.
“Dadda I want bubbles. Please dada Bennett wants bubbles too.”
Palm on forehead.
“Declan its too late for bubbles now. I asked you and you said no bubbles. Maybe tomorrow, okay?”
This is where I tense up and I squint one eye.
Is he going to say “ok” or is he going to throw a fit over bubbles he will no doubt want me to rid of after they have been made?
The bath is a neutral zone for our boys. This is where they understand it’s an even playing field.
They laugh and play innocently, as little naked monsters do.
The interaction between these two growing brothers alone makes stepping on the Blue Lego, so worth it.
The time we all have been waiting for:
I think it’s this moment most parents can relate to.
It’s the time of day where the kids go to bed and the parents can finally be whatever they damn well want to be.
For Andrea and I, it’s usually some kind of Netflix binge with a glass or three of wine.
We may play cards on the back deck, go in the hot tub, or play some nostalgic video games.
(She has gotten better at Mario Kart)
But first, it’s the struggle snuggle of getting the boys to bed.
This nightly routine may be odd for some and may very well be normal for others.
We understand each family has their own routine of what works and what is acceptable to one family may be bonkers to another.
Ours plays out like this.
Andrea and I alternate nights on putting boys to bed.
On my night, I have Bennett in one “nest” (armpit area cradling) and Declan in the other.
Declan typically has a toy in his hand and his Goofy in his “nest”.
Bennett of course, is guzzling a bottle to ensure he gets a second one if he finishes before his second wind.
We wind down with an episode of Mickey or Hugglemonsters.
Around 7:00 or 7:30 they boys begin their sleepy eyed descent.
And my night ends as the day began, all over again.
“Dadda you gotta snuggles me.”
I gladly accept his request.
It doesn’t matter what time we go to bed. It can be 9:00 p.m. or midnight, we know Declan will be waking us up before the sun comes up.
So we typically try to be in bed earlier than later.
Our routine works for us.
Even if it does come with an eye roll because I forgot to bring in towels after locking the house up.
Before getting into bed, I transfer Declan to his own bed. I tuck him in and give him a kiss on his forehead.
After all, it’s moments like this that won’t last forever.
I go to get back into bed and pray that my side of the bed is dry.
From what you may ask?
Sadly, two things I must check, as they are my children and being sweaty is a common male trait for our family.
The other…well you guessed it.
It/s not every night or even a regular occurrence, but I do occasionally win the “pee pee” lottery.
Changing the sheets in the dark, I can only imagine, is part of ancient Ninja training. I have mastered it.
Fear me as I fear my side of the bed having a rather large urine soaked wet spot.
Around this time on occasion, Declan climbs over me and once again requests:
“Snuggie me dadda.”
And even at the ungodly hour in the early A.M., it’s moments like this that make stepping on that Red, Green, Yellow, and even the Blue Lego, so worth it.
We get one shot with each of these young people who we are trusted to help develop. I don’t plan on squandering my shot. Through all the snot, the tantrums over simple requests, and the throbbing pain Legos may cause— being a dad is simply the best.
It may not define me, but one day I can imagine it being my greatest accomplishment.
I am blessed to wake up this day and be there for my sons. I wake up knowing I have an example to set. To show these boys love and affection they both so crave and deserve. But at the same time, show a strong presence that they can look up to and desire to become.
Who knows— today, maybe I will pick up the Legos.
Just kidding. It’s 4:22 a.m. and I have more than likely put my polo on inside out again.