The chronicles and ramblings of a stay-at-home father raising his three beautiful girls, Anya Rose, Caitlin Rose and Reegan Rose.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Today was a good day.

Ever since college I have had problems with anxiety and depression. Feeling as though it was some sort of weakness, it has always been something that I have felt ashamed of. This week I have really have come to grips with the cross I have been given to bear. While it is something that challenges me on a daily basis, I no longer see it as something outside the realm of normalcy. For too long I have seen others as flawless. I have always felt that my plight was so unusual that to admit to my shortcomings would distance myself from the ones I care about most dearly.

Today I had an awakening.

While I have felt that I am alone in this internal battle, I learned that everyone faces these challenges on a daily basis, often more sever than my own. Honesty is liberating. By facing my demons I feel free.

If there is one thing I want to instill in my Roses, it is that it is okay to be who you are. God made each of us so uniquely special for a reason. While we are not perfect in the eyes of many, we are all perfect in the eyes of God. There is nothing more important than I can hope to teach my children.

Tip of the Day: Take time in every day to see the ways that you change the world.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What's that gurgling in the room next door...

The day to day grind sometimes makes me forget just how much I love my little girls, but last night Caitlin decided to give me a quick refresher.  After everybody had gone to sleep, my wife and I were awakened by a strange gurgling sound followed by some loud screams.  Now everyone had gone to bed happy and healthy, so I assumed Cai Cai woken up to take a drink of water from her sippy cup, choked, and was a little shaken up.  As I opened the door, the putrid smell of stomach acid mixed with apple sauce disproved my theory.  She yakked.  And not just a little, it was everywhere.

So I'm standing their trying to figure out a way to comfort my child without covering myself in vomit, when my stomach starts to creep up my throat.  Man that smell.  Finally I swallowed hard, found a dry patch of her pajamas and nestled her into my arms as I made my way to the bathroom.  Caitlin isn't a big fan of having her hair washed, and she's REALLY not a fan of it when it occurs in the middle of the night when she's not feeling well, and her daddy is scrapping her head to get all the chunks out.  Not pretty.

After she was all cleaned up, I grabbed a blanket and rocked with her in the chair.  As I held her I realized how much I really loved that little girl.  How quickly it put into perspective just how important my little girls are to me.  I didn't care that Caitlin took a black pen and drew all over her white Armour, or that she dumped a bucket of raisins under her bed, all I cared about was helping her feel better.  What an amazing responsibility.

Tip of the Day: If you have expensive white furnature, keep black pens out of reach of children.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We'll it's official...

I'm running the Minneapolis Marathon!

One of the hardest things about being a stay at home dad for me is the lack of variety.  As a teacher, I was constantly faced with new challenges.  The beginning of the school year was always filled with excitement and anxiety.  Getting back together with all my collegaues was always a treat.  I especially loved the happy hours, which turned into happy all-nighters, which usually turned Alicia into an unhappy wife.  But it was fun.  I loved those Monday morning conversations.  "Do you remember pouring your own beer at the bar in Uptown and they stopped the dance music to bust your drunk ass?" or "How many times did the turkey heart come out on Friday, like 6? (I often lost count so I generally agreed with the number they put fourth.) " or my personal favorite "I can't believe you brought a guitar, an amp and a microphone over to Dave's house just to do a 2 minute stand-up skit was wasn't very funny but highly inappropriate and offensive to my 8th grade son."  Those were the days...

The beginning of the year also came with many long days; conferences, parent information days,
kissing ass to the jerk off parents you just wanted to slap.  But the promise of MEA and Thanksgiving break always got me through.  That was the beauty of teaching, there was always something to work towards and look forward to.

As a stay at home dad, my days blend together.  My Fridays are no different than my Mondays.  Weekends are tough because my wife wants to hang out at the house all day and I'm usually itching to get out.  Aside from the occasional dinner party (with kids of course), the monotony of the week wears on my poor soul.

Enter marathoning.

Training for a marathon gives me the structure and variety I so desparately need.  I have a built in excuse to take time for myself to do something that I enjoy.  My wife understands that if I don't get adaquate training in, there is a high percentage that I will die on race day.   Seriously. 

So I'm going for it.  My second marathon.  My first took me over 5 hours to complete, but I finished.  Despite the fact that I had no family or friends to cheer me on (except Joe, Rikki, and Kyle...You ROCK!) I had the time of my life.  My goal for number two is a finish inside 4:40 min.  Is it possible? probably not, but what fun is it picking low hanging fruit?

Tip of the Day - Never fear failure, it doesn't exist.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mr. Clean

Never in my life would I have considered myself to be tidy.  Back in college, I would launder my clothes only after they had visible stains (visible to the naked eye anyway), do the dishes only when it became impossible to fill up a ice-cube tray for the freezer, and I'm not sure I even changed my sheets freshman year.  Alicia harped at me for years to pick up after myself.  When I became an at home dad, I really made an effort to change my slovenly ways and keep the house nice and tidy, especially as Alicia's arrival neared.

Last week while my wife was out of town, it occurred to me for the first time that I don't clean for Alicia anymore, I clean for myself.  I've turned into Danny fricken Tanner.  I find joy in doing the dishes, vacuuming the carpets, and sweeping the floors.  Do you all realize what this means?  There is hope for EVERYONE!  Lucky for me I look after three spill-making, dish-breaking, kool-aid staining, I'll-spit-this-chocolate-out-over-here-while-he's-not-looking; angels!

Tip of the Day:  Is your child gassy?  Well there is a way to litereally roll the farts out of there bellies.  First wiggle the child's legs back and forth while they lay on their back.  Next, tuck their legs and bring their knees to by their chins.  Finally, while applying a little pressure, roll their legs downward towards their natural position.  This little trick bailed me out on numerous occasions. I use it on the girls too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold!

A few weeks ago we started sorting through the boxes and boxes of crap we have aquired over the past six years in our house.  We never thought storage would be an issue in a 2,000 square ft home and more bedrooms than occupants, but that was before three kids.  As we made our way through the laundry room, I found my box of music supplies that I had purchased in college.  Guitar stands, amp cords, recording equiptment, microphones, headsets; musical accessories for your typical college stoner.  Behind that box was the case for my American Standard Fender Strat.

The dust covered case still housed the guitar that I used to kill countless evenings up at St. John's University.  I haven't played my electric guitar in over three years (and no it's not a coincidence that my eldest daughter is 3 years old...).  What practical purpose does an electric guitar serve to a father of three youngsters?  When do you play it? When the girls are sleeping, I wouldn't dare wake them and ruin the few minutes of sanity I am seldomly provided.  If the girls are awake, I could jam for a few minutes, but my gig would inevitably end with me having to spend a good chunk of the day undoing the disaster that had occurred when my attention was not fully on my scheming children:

"What do you mean the toilet is overflowing...How much toilet paper did you use?..The whole roll?  Your butts not even that big!  And you still managed to get poop in the living room?  CAITLIN!!! Get that out of your mouth!!!"

So I did what any responsible father would do, I sold it all on Craigslist.  Now for those of you who haven't used Craigslist, it's a very easy process.  First of all, it's free.  You can post as much stuff as you want and it doesn't cost you a dime.  Simply go to the site, click on your city, and select the 'Post' option.  That's pretty much it.

I made a couple hundred bucks selling stuff that would have otherwise sat in my basement collecting dust.  My only regret, however, is that I feel as though I may have just sold off a chapter of my life.  I know a 2:00am jam session isn't in my near future, but to finally part with my once-coveted belongings makes me feel like a tree being pruned; it hurts now, but in the end it gives the tree more room to flourish. Just waiting to see what the new sprouts are going to be...


Tip of the Day: If you're going to raise egg laying chickens, make sure you have enough to supply eggs to everyone in your office.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Skol Vikings! Skol!

So there I was last Friday, knee deep in dirty diapers, when I get a call from my wife.  "Do you want to go to the Vikings game this Sunday? My aunt has some tickets that she'd let us have for free if we were interested in going.  She said they were pretty good seats too."  Hmmm... Let me think, YES!  Sometimes even the blind squirrel gets his nut.

We managed to pawn off the kidlets to my parents on Saturday night so we could get to the game early and take in some of the atmosphere.  After dropping off the kids, we arrived home around 8:30pm (a half hour past my desired bedtime.) but my wife convinced me to stay up and enjoy the empty house with her.  We shared a bottle of wine and reminised about the nights when our house was always so quiet.  How only three years can change your life... Anyway, we made the most of our evening alone. Twice.

On Sunday morning we met Alicia's brother Ben and his fiance, Dianne and we headed off to the game.  Now I haven't been to a Vikes game in a couple years, but apparently inflation has ravanged the pregame beer prices.  I paid $10.50 for a 16 oz bottle of Miller Lite.  The vender was lucky it was the best beer I'd ever had or I might have caused a scene.

When we got inside the stadium we found our seats; Vikings side, 25 yard line, 15 rows up.  Best seats I'll ever have for a Vikes game, that's for sure. But the real treat was the Vikings complete domination of the game.  Hey Cowboys, what did the five fingers say to the face? Slap - Rick James style! After the game my wife drove to pick up the girls while I sobered up in the passanger seat.  We had a great time and are very grateful to have such wonderful families to have made it possible.

Tip of the Day: Need a napkin when none are to be found? Don't panic, just use the top of your tube sock to wipe your mess.  It's safe, hidden, and always there when you need it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

While my wife was out of town, my daughters and I decided to make the trip up to Lindstrom to spend a few days with my parents house. My sister Katie was in town from Evansville, WI with her two kids, Jack (4) and Grace (one month) and I thought it would be a great chance to bond.

A wise man once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Every time I go to my parents I expect my stay to be peaceful and relaxing. Never has a trip to my parents house been peaceful or relaxing. Whether my daughter is downing my parents stash of pharmaceuticals or breaking one of the many priceless family heirlooms they have out for display, a trip to my parents always brings me to the brink of madness. Yet for some reason I always go back. Am I insane? Yes.

And why the hell can't anyone sleep through the night anymore? It's like my parents house has some sort of vortex that prohibits anyone under the age of 3 from getting more than 5 hours of sleep.

The truth is that the kids have a wonderful time. They love spending time with their papa and their cousins. They love all the crazy and obnoxious projects my parents are working on (like the $5,000 'playhouse' they constructed this past summer). And most importantly, they love being spoiled rotten.

Daddy, on the other hand, has a hard time sitting down when there are so many half finished projects just begging to be completed. And don't even get me started on the cat hair... If you collected all the hair that Pussface sheds in a day, you could cloth a hobo! Seriously. But when all is said and done, I somehow find joy amidst the insanity. After all, isn't that what family is all about?

Tip of the day: Never own a cat.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Stand Corrected...

After yesterday's post, my girls thought they would remind me how helpful it is to have two parents home any given night. Their strategy? Attack when he's most vulnerable...at night!

After getting the three girls in bed by 7:00, I buried my nose in a book and hit the hay around 9:00. Caitlin was the first to attack. Around midnight, I was awoken by the screams of my 20 month old daughter. After 10 minutes in the rocking chair, I laid her back down. Problem solved. Or was it? Just as my head hit my pillow the moans from the room next door restarted. At this juncture I decided to take a parenting tip from an episode of Modern Family I had seen last week; Ferberization (aka letting the kid cry herself to sleep). It only took her 90 minutes to quiet herself to the point I could comfortably close my eyes begin to relax. Phase one of their operation was completed.

At approximately 2:15am it was time for Anya to carry out her mission. I was awaken by my 3 year old daughter in an attempt to sneak into my bedroom. While she was tip-toeing and moving very slowly, I was able to detect her as she had slammed the bedroom door and turned on the hallway light. Knowing her cover was blown, she tried her best to make her break in seem legitimate. "Daddy, I can't find my water?" she whispered. But I was on to her. "Honey, aren't you holding two cups of water in your hands?" which indeed she was. After sensing she was defeated, she retreated back upstairs. Not a long distraction, but enough to bring me to full consciousness and detract from a restful night of sleep.

Finally at 4:00am, Reegan decided to join in the action. Feeling left out and rather wet from pissing through her diaper, sleeper, and blanket, Reegan woke me up for a quick change and a feeding. Nothing notably different from most nights for Reegan, but a third wake-up in one night leaves its mark.

Lucky for me my in-laws made it over for the day. The girls just love their grandpa and grandma and daddy just loved the extra help. It made the hard night a little easier to forget.

Tip of the day - When peeling an orange, roll it around on the table a few times. The rind peels off much easier and often in one piece.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flying Solo

This week my wife is out of town on a business trip so I get to hold down the fort all by myself. As daunting as the task seems, it really isn't that bad. Realistically I watch the kids from when the wake up to around 5:30 when my wife gets home. I'm usually happy to let her handle the kids while I clean up after supper. At 6:00pm we have our daily bath followed by our 10 minutes of naked time (myself excluded). 7:00pm sharp is time for bed (and when I say sharp, I mean SHARP!). So what if I'm a bedtime Nazi? My wife is always giving me shit for it, but does she complain when we get two hours of daily alone time, I don't think so. For those of you married people out there, you know exactly what we use that alone time for...reading, watching TV, and if we get really kinky we might even do some laundry together. Such is life with three kids under three.

Tip of the Day: Throw a dash of Lawry's Seasoned Salt in your next batch of Macaroni and Cheese. It takes regular Mac and Cheese from a 10 to an 11.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Working Up a Sweat

About a month ago the wife and I decided to get a membership to Lifetime Fitness. We're both active people, but with the three little ones, it's pretty hard to find the time to stay in shape. The St. Louis Park location has a really nice child care facility and when I learned I could drop the kids off on a daily basis for up to two hours, I was sold. What I failed to realize, however, is that my children haven't been out of my care for the past two years and change is never easy.

The first day went as expected. I entered the child care center and the girls were all excited when they saw all the cool games and toys. Their excitement quickly turned to tears as they learned their daddy wasn't going to be sticking around. I snuck away as the providers wrestled Anya from the door. Caitlin, sensing something going a fowl, quickly followed suit and started with her ear piercing screeches. I could hear my children halfway down the hallway as I thought to myself "It's the first day, just give them some time and they'll calm down."

Instead of getting dressed to work out, I went upstairs to the Life Cafe to grab a coffee and read the paper. Life was good. Children in the child care center, dad getting a chance to relax. As I raised my coffee to my lips for my first sip of the good life, I heard for the first time... "Attention Lifetime guests, could James Schmidt please return to the child care center, James Schmidt to the child care center." They didn't even make it 10 minutes.

When I returned to the center, my three Roses were all crying hysterically. There was enough snot coming out of their noses to lubricate a treadmill for a month. While the attendant was very polite in encouraging me to return soon to try it again, I could tell deep down she was hoping she'd seen the last of me.

No such luck lady. For the next two weeks, we arrived daily at 3:00pm. The "workouts" had increased in length to 25 minutes, just enough time for me to get nice and sweaty before having to deal with my unruly children. Still contemplating whether this whole gym thing was worth it, we forged ahead, going on a daily basis.

That brings us to today. 6 weeks into our membership and I've only made it through one workout without the dreaded chimes of the loudspeaker requesting me back to the child care center. How long can this continue? At the moment I get more of a workout consoling my two sobbing children than any treadmill can provide.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Raising My Roses

Welcome to Raising My Roses, a blog about a stay at home dad raising his three little girls. My name is Bo and I've been a stay at home dad for almost two years. I have three little girls, Anya Rose (3), Caitlin Rose (19 months) and Reegan Rose (5 months) and am married to my beautiful wife Alicia Rose.

In a former life I was a religion teacher at a Catholic School. I went to St. John's University to study Theology, which apparently I thought was going to make good financial sense. After graduation, I started up at St. Mary's University for an MA in Education. For those of you keeping tabs at home, I had accrued over $40,000 in student loans and currently have an annual income of NOTHING. But if I could do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing.