Unselfishly Give a Great Deal of Ourselves

Parenting is hard. Balancing work and family is hard. Kids are kids. Our families are not accessories to our lives or objects we can control completely. And if we want to be the sort of parents to raise children of character and integrity, we have to unselfishly give a great deal of ourselves to the project.

“Toy Times”, Holiday 2008/2009, Author Unknown


Coconut Bliss – Great Tasting Ice Cream for Children Allergic to Dairy

My son Lex and I recently discovered Coconut Bliss during a product demo at our local Wholefoods. Actually we had been told about it at the beginning of the summer by a friend who recommended it as an ice cream substitute for Lex (he has a dairy allergy). For whatever reason I had forgotten about this interesting product until we came across the product demo.

First of all Coconut Bliss is not only made from a list of ingredients that you can pronounce, but you can even remember them because they are so few. For example the Vanilla Island flavor’s ingredients are only four: Organic Coconut Milk, Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Fair Trade Vanilla Extract, Organic Fair Trade Vanilla Beans. You really can’t beat that. Now, the main draw of this new product, it is vegan and 100% free of dairy, soy, and gluten.

But it gets even better; coconut is not only an alternative ingredient, it comes with excellent benefits beyond taste. Instead of trying to paraphrase, let me quote Luna and Larry’s website: “While its natural richness creates the creamy texture that people love, the fat in coconut milk is very different from other fats. High in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) identical to those in human breast milk, coconut milk has similar germ fighting and heart-protective properties.” You can read a lot more about the nutritional value of consuming coconut at www.coconutresearchcenter.org.

the makers of Coconut Bliss state that their customers make the bold claim of Coconut Bliss being the “only dessert they can feel good about eating, and feel good after eating”. I have to agree. It taste phenomenal and leaves you feeling pretty good too! The only part that won’t feel great is the dent it leaves in your wallet, but there is a reason for it premium price: the ingredients are premium and fair trade. Also I’m not sure that Luna and Larry have yet reached complete economies of scale. Their rice and soy based competitors better hope they never do or they will be pushed right out.

The reason I am writing here is mostly to let you know that I have found this to be an EXCELLENT ice cream alternative for my son. As he gets older he is not satisfied just watching others eat yummy ice cream while he suffers through some imitation. Each time we have serve Lex Coconut Bliss he almost attacks it. He loves it. He pretty much ripped ever sample out of my hands last week at the Wholefoods product demo. The small amounts that I have eaten were wonderful, just thinking about it now, mmmmm, looking at the refrigerator, rationalizing, justifying, ok, I gotta go, there is a scoop of Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island with my name on it…


Culturelle – Probiotic for Digestion, Immunity, Regularity for Little and Big People

My son came into the world with quite a few health problems. I discussed these in detail in my article called “My Son Has Reflux” and I also mentioned one the remedies that we adopted way back then, a probiotic called Culturelle. At 2 months of age we had my son diagnosed with severe reflux, but with our first visit to the Pediatric Gastroenterologist, before he was diagnosed, we were urged to put little Lex on probiotics immediately for treatment for his colic. This particular practice in Houston during early 2007 was actually conducting a study on the use of probiotics to treat colic in infants.

Probiotic: A Definition

Translated means “for life”, billions of bacteria living inside mammals that have a positive effect on the health and digestion of their host

The Science of Culturelle’s Probiotic

The doctor highly recommended the Culturelle brand of probiotic because of its exclusive probiotic strain, Lactobacillus GG. Culturelle’s doctors and scientists spent years studying the health benefits of ingesting the many strains of the “good” bacteria called lactobacillus which is commonly found in various dairy products. The found that most of the strains were unable to survive the harsh conditions of the human digestive system. However, after much searching they found a resilient strain that could survive and even grow there and they named it Lactobacillius GG.

The All-Natural Winner

Culturelle’s probiotic is the most studies strain of probiotic. It is much more sticky and potent than the lesser probiotics found in yogurts. Culturelle packages their probiotic in foil-sealed capsules and they guarantee 10 billion live cells at the time that each capsule is used. Delivery through capsules makes the Lactobacillus GG easy to swallow; however, it can also be sprinkled over food or drinks.

Real-life Experience with Culturelle

My son has been on Culturelle since he was 3 months old (it took us a little while to convince ourselves that Culturelle was better than the probiotic we were getting at Wholefoods). His colic started to disappear within weeks of starting the daily treatment (sprinkle one capsule in Lex’s bottle which he was most likely to finish-off each day. At 8 months old Lex ran out of Probiotic, we were moving, and there were lots of changes to keep track of. One month later Lex began a month-long spree of diarrhea that ended with a diagnosed milk-allergy and our starting his daily Culturelle dosage again. I am not saying that I know for sure that he would have been fine had we kept-up on giving him Culturelle, but there is no way to be certain that this circumstantial evidence doesn’t have some significance.

A year later and Lex still get’s his daily dosage of 10 billion live cells of Lactobacillus GG. For a time we gave it to him sprinkled over fruit and applesauce, but now he gets it with his fresh sippy cup of 1 part juice and 4 parts water. Most mornings he drinks it down, but if he doesn’t then he usually finishes of the top-off sippy cup before lunch. He also has had no new symptoms. His reflux is MUCH better and his milk allergy seems to ignore foods with trace amounts of cow’s milk now. Lex is a very regular little guys and as long as we don’t start feeding him dairy products his stomach never seems to bother him.

The Proof is in the Results

I am not a scientist, but I can say that Lex’s health is better than it was at the times he was not taking Culturelle. In fact, now that I think of it, his scrapes and scratches seem to heal faster than normal (no infections) and he rarely, compared to his peers, gets a cold or stomach bug (maybe once every 6 months). He seems happier all-around and so we have no plans to take him off of the best probiotic that we know of, Culturelle’s Lactobacillus GG.


They Grow Up So Fast: Enjoying the Present

There are moments when I find myself wishing Lex was a little older and able to do different things. There are also other times when my responsibilities with regards to Lex seem too large to be able to maintain a work-life-sleep balance. In those moments of weakness, the trials of parenthood, I find myself wishing I wasn’t such a hands-on dad (such as when I’m changing another poopy diaper), or rather that I had a few less responsibilities (such as always getting up with Lex during the night and in the mornings). However, when those moments pass I recognize that I am quite pleased with the way things are. In fact, I recognize that truly, they grow up so fast and the best I can do now is to explore and enjoy the journey in the present. Let me try to share the thought process that leads me to this conclusion.

Wishing to Return to Past Times

Looking through photos of Lex is always enjoyable. Doing so can also be surprising because it sparks feelings of nostalgia about tough times. Some of those photos were taken during times that seemed very difficult when they were happening. However, those photos can make me want to go back to Lex when he was at that point in time. They make me want to go back to those times which seemed so difficult at the moment.

When I recognize this longing for the Lex of the past I learn something very valuable about the present. If its possible for me to miss Lex of the past and the parenting experiences of the past, especially from very difficult trials of parenthood, then perhaps I didn’t fully appreciate those past times and Lex as he was at those points in time. Conversely, perhaps I did enjoy those moments to the fullest extent possible as they were happening, and yet I still wish I could jump back to a particular point in time.

Enjoy and Record the Present

Either possibility ultimately leads to the same conclusion: If I can miss my child’s past self or my past parenting experiences there is nothing I can do to bring those experiences back, the best that I can do is to appreciate and experience the present to the fullest. I should also learn from this that I should make regular efforts to record the present through photos, videos, and journal entries (but never to the point that either impeded enjoyment of the present). If I enjoy photos of the past now, I will certainly enjoy the photos of the present in the future.

Therefore, I should push out wishes that Lex would grow up faster. I should trust my own experience and that of most parents and accept that truthfully “they grow up so fast” already. So what if Lex isn’t ready for international travel. There is so much that he does now that is so much more enjoyable over the long run then a fleeting two-week trip abroad.

Enjoy the Ride – They Grow Up So Fast

I know that there are trials (terrible twos) ahead of us, but if I can remember this conclusion I’ll learn to find the enjoyment in the present, so that after the struggles I’m not left with regrets that I didn’t appreciate the moment. If I can make this conclusion a part of my core beliefs I will definitely be a better dad. I will be more solidly on the path of responsible fatherhood.


The Car Wash = The House of Horrors

About one year ago I took Lex with me to the car wash. It was one of those car washes that you ride through with your car as the brushes, sprays, soaps, and air blasts remove all of the grime from your vehicle. The adventurous boy in me loves riding through these and I thought Lex, at about 8 months of age might enjoy it too. I could not have been more wrong.

Lex was in his car seat in the middle of the backseat, as he should always be, when entered the house of horrors. I was half distracted by the spinning brushes and sprays coming at us that I did not immediately notice Lex’s obvious face of sheer terror. As the brushes and foam hit the car I looked to Lex to see if he was enjoying the experience. At that moment he started shreaking in terror. I tried to calm him down with my voice, trying to sell the whole thing is good fun, as I struggled out of my seat belt, got him out of his car seat, and pulled him into the front seat with me.

I felt terrible and foolish to have assumed he would enjoy such a potentially frightening experience. He called down pretty quickly after we got out. I was able to pull over at the neighboring Jack-in-the-Box and took him in for a change of scenery. We enjoyed some cheap fries together and then headed home to tell Momma the story of our unexpected adventure.

Now fast-forward 1 year, to last month. The car was VERY dirty and in need of a serious wash. In fact, it was so dirty that I felt I was violating my responsible fatherhood by allowing it to remain like that. You see, we have a two car garage that is somewhat toddler-proof and fairly clean, an so we often let Lex play int here and he frequently runs his hand along the side of the car as he strolls past it. Given the unknown, yet suspected, contaminants in the grime that was on the car, I felt it was time to take the responsible fatherhood initiative and get the car washed again (yes, after nearly 1 year). In fact, my wife was already urging me to do this too!

I hadn’t forgotten our previous car wash adventure; not at all. However, I didn’t think it was a concern seeing as how this daddy’s boy was a “big boy” now. What a mistake!

We went to a different car wash, but the inside pandemonium was quite similar. Again I was into the excitement of the moment and making certain that I was not pressing the breaks. Just as the brushes hit I looked to Lex int he rear-view mirror and then I spun around in the front seat immediately. Lex was literally shaking with fear. His little arms were half stretched-out, with his hands open, and he has shaking them. His face had the look of pure terror. It broke my heart in an instance and I tried to get him out as quickly as possible.

Once freed from his car seat I again pulled him up front with me and he clung to me like never before. He pushed his head in under my chin and into my neck with a full and constant force; as if he were trying to bury his head. He stayed like this all through the ordeal. As we rolled out of the newly discovered house of horrors and into the sunlight, I shifted the car and maneuvered to an open parking spot near the vacuum stations. All during this time Lex never loosened his grip or stopped pressing his head in to my neck and chest. You’d think it would be hard to drive like this, but his grip was so tight that I didn’t have to hold him and our car is an automatic.

All of my calming words, playing calming music, and tactile reassurement took about 5 minutes to have any effect on Lex. Slowly his feeling of terror faded away and again I took him to the nearest local establishment (grocery store) to help reset him for the journey home. He of course, for got about everything by the time the shopping and playing were through. I don’t think I will be taking him to the car wash for a long time. Or perhaps, I could take him and just dismount the car before it enters the house of horrors and pick it up at the end. If not, I think I need to find a different sort of car wash.


Bumped His Head, Goose Egg, Daddy’s Boy, Responsbile Fatherhood?

Last week, while exploring my responsible fatherhood and around the outside of a local business in the early afternoon with my son there was an accident. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the moment, terrain, activity, or clothing. I had just redirected Lex away from the trash collection area and he took off running like he usually does. Then it seems his feet failed him. One foot caught on the other, I think, and Lex fell hard and fast. I recall two sounds, the first one seemed normal, like little knees or arms hitting the ground, but the second one was bone chilling. It was an almost hollow thud.

I jumped into action quickly expecting the worst, but acting like nothing that bad had occurred. Lex was speechless at first, but his mouth was open. So I scanned him quickly, checked the teeth and the chin immediately. I was looking for blood or at least a telling mark. I found nothing at first, but then it found me. Within seconds a large baby-sized goose egg was forming on my son’s forehead and there were small scrapes to confirm undeniable wound. That thud was his forehead bouncing off of the asphalt. Ouch!

Lex cried, of course, but it did not last as long as I through it would. Now I was singing as I jogged with him over to the car were I knew his sippy cup was. The sippy cup is now his primary hydration and soothing device. Once all of those things came together Lex settled down, while his goose egg kept growing. I know that it helped that I didn’t freak out. Past accidents became so much more terrifying for Lex when I freaked out. So I told myself, “no more freaking out!”

I took Lex to see “Mommy”, although I must say this was more informational then a part of the solution. Lex is a daddy’s boy now. I’m just lucky that he’s chosen me for that role. I do spend more time with him and we do share pretty much all of his adventures together; so it makes sense that he has chosen me as his ultimate comforter. I know of too many mothers who do as much or more than I do with their children and yet still their children become a daddy’s boy or a daddy’s girl. Its harsh for them.

Anyway, after a few other seemingly serious accidents (falling down stairs, for example) and subsequent trips to the ER or calls to the doctor, we have learned what to look out for int he case of a possible concussion. Throughout the day we looked to see if his eyes became dilated. We checked his balance as well and watched for signs of nausea. He never showed any of these and so we felt that there was no permanent damage, but we did check on his a couple times through the night to be sure. By the way, he woke quite a bit in the late night and early morning, more than usual, but his sleep cycle was nearly normal after that first night. We did give him some Children’s Tylenol and later Ibuprofen.

Just before Lex went to be, my wife criticized my caution and attention when I’m out with Lex. I regret my response, I was very upset. I felt that I had done everything I should do and that this was something that just happened. I said this, in a not-so-nice tone and I struck out saying or thinking (I don’t remember) that if she actually spent some time with Lex outdoors she would see the same things happen. I argued that if I were to try and prevent every single possible accident then Lex would never get to have any fun or experience anything freely.

I was very upset and it showed. She asked me to calm down, especially in front of Lex. I did, on the outside. After Lex was to bed, I tried to bring up the topic, but she refused to talk about it. Later, I felt like a jerk. If there was really nothing that I could do to prevent this accident, then we couldn’t I feel satisfied in my responsible fatherhood for the day. Looking back now, I suppose the accident shook me up some. I felt strongly that it was not my fault, but I did wonder if there was something more I could have done then I think I subconsciously still wonder if perhaps there are other moments, when I am not representing responsible fatherhood, and something bad could happen but doesn’t.


How to Find a Babysitter – Sittercity.com Review

Let’s face it, after spending so many sleepless nights, fussing over so many feeding choices, and working so hard to get your child’s routine set we all have a fear, whether recognized or subconscious that introducing a babysitter could put all of that at risk. The truth is that even if a babysitter ignored most of your routines and made poor choices it usually takes 3-4 violations or omissions to break a good habit. So even if the babysitter totally screws up, your little 12-hours-straight sleeping beauty won’t permanently abandon that “nirvana” or sleep cycles.

How to find a Babysitter

Nevertheless, this is a priceless, irreplaceable little being. Even if you are not worried about breaking any good routines and habits, you don’t want to trust her care to just anyone. When you have exhausted all relatives and friends as babysitters or, like me, you don’t have any nearby were to do you turn to find a babysitter? Some turn to teenage neighbors or members of their local faith. sometimes, this isn’t an option and one might be tempted to take a look on their city’s Craigslist or newspaper’s classified ads. However, if you choose this route you don’t really know anything about those offering their services and you would have to invest quite a bit of time to find out if you can trust them. Don’t worry, I have an alternative…

Sittercity.com Review to the Rescue

Sittercity.com is an excellent resource for your babysitter search. Seriously, it is definitely worth your time and consideration. But you say, “Wait a minute, isn’t that just another website like Craigslist?” Well, technically, yes, it is a website, but its what’s behind the website and that you should care about. Sittercity.com puts all of its sitters through a 4-step screening process. It runs background checks on all of them and it even makes them available to registered members! It presents a sitter’s customized profile (including age) to you which even shows the sitter’s calendar availability and general locality. You can also read referrals and reviews from fellow parents on each sitter (where available). In fact, most sitter profiles include a photograph and many of them also include a video interview with the sitter. Try to get all of that through Craigslist.


  Sittercity Sitter Search

Enter your zipcode to find a babysitter in your area:

So what’s the catch you ask? None really if you consider peace of mind and the security of your children to be of any value. Sittercity.com does charge a registration fee and its experienced and screened sitters might charge a little more than the twelve-year-old down the street. However, in the end you will be able to focus more on the reason you need a sitter and spend less time trying to find the perfect one from your child(ren). Therefore, in my opinion, you really can’t go wrong with the service. Take a look for yourself.

You owe it to your responsible fatherhood initiative to take look. Truthfully you owe it to yourself, companion, and child to take some time off and away. Take your wife or significant other out on a date and enjoy yourself. It will do everyone good and you will enjoy the time more if you feel safe and comfortable with the babysitter who is taking care of your child(ren).

For a limited time True Fatherhood readers can get a 10% discount of of their registration (see details below):