dba: daddy

Gender Equality: Getting Serious About Propagation of Discrimination

While covering Catherine's bedroom walls with Minnie Mouse & Daisy Duck decals, we came across one sticker in the package that read: "Girls can do anything!" She asked me what it said and after reading it to her, she promptly responded: "well...boys can do anything too... actually, anyone can do anything." and as my heart began to swell with pride and satisfaction, she added: "...as long as their Mommy and Daddy or Teachers aren't watching."

Although this started my Sunday morning with a good laugh, I found myself contemplating a friend's recent facebook post: 

"I, for one, think that girls are strong enough to handle the word "bossy." And I don't think they need to be treated with extra-gentle kid gloves. It backfires. Makes me think of what Sarah Silverman said:

Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. I think it’s a mistake. Not because they can’t but because it would have never occurred to them they couldn’t. You’re planting that seed in their heads. It’s like saying, “Hey when you get in the shower I’m not going to read your diary.”

The whole "addressing the problem" instead of behaving in a way to prove it doesn't exist reminds me of the line in "Dirty Dancing" when Edward says "I never treated you like a prostitute." and Vivian replies (under her breath): "You just did."

Our sincerest intention is for Catherine to view all people as Human and give as much weight to their gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, creed and race as she does to the color of their hair. Lamenting, defending or proclaiming pride in differences only seems to propagate the human divide.

My wife and I view Catherine as a generational clean slate with regards to human equality. The challenge has been and continues to be the adoption of behavior and offering of  lessons that don't overcompensate for the biases we encounter and dream to circumvent.     

Assumptions: Women Have it Tougher Than I Thought

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A nice reminder that although it's not all bubble baths and bon-bons for stay-at-home moms (or dads), that assumption is often made.

The following is an excerpt from an article I read on Forbes.com: 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/04/15/a-working-mom-defends-the-lululemon-stay-at-home-mother/ 

“The stay-at-home moms, or the “Lululemon Moms” as the working moms in my community often call them, seem just a bit calmer. Of course, not all of them wear Lululemon workout gear–in fact a lot of them might not even be able to afford $95 or so for yoga pants. Still, the reference to the “Lululemon mom” has become short-hand for what many working moms incorrectly assume to be a certain kind of person.

In reality, I don’t know anything about their lives except that they get to wear comfortable clothing when I am dressed for the office. ”

Although this (and most) parenting articles assume the primary care giver of a child is the mother (as was the focus during the recent Yahoo work-from-home ban). I have however, been finding it easier to insert myself (or rather my gender) into the text.

Although I believe in the fundamental principles of Carl Jung’s identified archetypes of anima and animus, I don’t think it’s all genetic and I debated this point with my mother who counseled me on the magnitude of the undertaking any stay-home dad accepts. I believe a significant portion of our gender identity is largely a result of socialization and suppression. In light of my recent catharsis, I have come to realize that the one benefiting most from my struggles and sacrifices is not my daughter as I had initially presumed… but in fact, it has been me.

This gender-role reversal has allowed me to experience a tremendous amount of growth as a person and adopt a fresh perspective on personal dynamics in general and a newfound appreciation for modern women. I always found it interesting and disappointing that in most professional situations…even even after introducing the woman in the room as the lead, client or principle....most people will still direct their eye contact and conversation at me.  I understand the hard-wired tendency to predominately regard the physically larger (and often louder) presence in the room but it surprises me, that in 2013, women have a great deal more conscious and unconscious gender discrimination to overcome on the professional and domestic fronts than I ever imagined.    

Non-Disclosure: Learning When to Keep My Mouth Shut

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I made my wife cry last night.

I told her something I should’ve kept to myself. Which is one of the re-curing mistakes I make but when you marry your best friend and lover…you sometimes forget she’s not that much like you.

Before I dropped Catherine off at school today, she sweetly asked me if I would buy her some new mittens. I replied: “Of course sweetheart! What color would you like?” “Purple” she replied. I suggested that we could go to a store filled with hats, coats and gloves to see if we could find a pair of purple mittens. She whispered “Thank you Daddy” into my ear and then kissed me on the nose.

When I picked her up seven hours later, it finally occurred to me that she was asking me for new mittens because I had been sending her to school (and a 1hr outdoor recess) for the last three days without any gloves or mittens in 30 degree weather. My heart was split open with guilt, sadness and sorrow.

Gotta work on that jalopy of a filter I have...

  

The Power of a Secret: Discovering Something Special

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Sanford is recruiting some pretty talented people (like Kimberly Simpson Earle and Chris Orzechowski) and empowering them with phenomenal resources like significant funding and the most technological devices that few places, if any, in the world are able to avail their researchers and physicians…like the 4th and 5th cardiac stent placement robots in the country and the world’s largest tissue bank for breast cancer research. This tissue bank is Denny Sanford’s greatest advantage in his mission to eradicate breast cancer through genetic isolation of the disease as opposed to only focusing on treatment in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. And they’re making significant progress. Already, they have identified many more types of breast cancer that respond better to treatments previously reserved for what were believed to have been “completely different” cancers.

Those of you who watch the Big Bang Theory may also appreciate the fact that the Higgs-Boson particle (dark matter) was also discovered here in South Dakota. (In a lab deep within a gold mine under acres of prairie grass and pines in the Black Hills).

What also surprised us was the fact that Sioux Falls really is a great place to raise a family. Their clean air and clean water (cleanest in the country in fact) is almost as impressive as the culture we’ve experienced at every turn during our visits. It’s been like the Chevy Chase film “Funny Farm”. After every encounter, I catch myself looking over my shoulder to see if the mayor is actually dolling out $100 bills and thanking residents for a “great performance” and reminding them to “keep smiling!”.  

Sioux Falls offers us the opportunity to raise our daughter in, what feels like, more of a community than a city or town. It’s interesting to see that, even with all the various funding, many of the rooms at Sanford Hospital have been donated by local families.

Good to Great: Moving from East Coast to Midwest

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My wife brought home a refrigerator magnet one day that read: ”Life begins where your comfort zone ends.”…and so life is certainly about to "begin".

After a lot of careful consideration, lengthy discussion and exhaustive research we decided to sell our dream home in Pennsylvania and move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The plan is to pack up the contents of our house in the next few weeks (making most of the headway while my wife takes Catherine to see her sick Grandpa in Tampa next week) and store everything neatly in the back basement.

We will list the house just in time to hit the tail end of the summer market with hopes that it will be an attractive situation for someone looking to move into the area before the school year starts in September. We will be shipping my wife’s car and drive my Suburban with one week’s worth of supplies in our (just purchased) Thule Atlantis 1800 (Sonic XL) rooftop carrier, along with a 2yr old and a 125lb Newfoundland... should be interesting to say the least. Below is my navigational chart which is an example of how over-thinking and over-planning allays most anxiety for me. It took quite a bit of time to determine the best times to travel, how long to travel and where to stop based on a myriad of variables including everything from nap times to doggy’s potty breaks and anti-anxiety meds (the dog’s). I learned a lot in my 1 week intensive course in trip planning…like the fact that zoo keepers and vets most often move animals under cloak of darkness when possible to avoid additional visual stimulus and potential anxiety / motion sickness…but we also wanted to see most of the trip as well since neither one of us could ever imagine needing or wanting to make a drive like this again.

Although this level of organization may seem like the science of qiyas when equipped with a state-of-the-art navigation system in my truck, I can’t help but think that a 5-day trip with 5 planned stops for a family traveling with a dog and a baby (neither of which have ever traveled in a car for more than a couple of hours) it’s imperative to identify additional potential stops at dog-friendly hotels in advance. We need alternate targets that can serve as half-way markers between stops in the event Catherine or Lulu just aren’t doing well…AND potential stops / hotels just past our scheduled stops in the event we are able to / need to make up time and can comfortably survive going on a little further….so that explains the thought process a little… 

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Entertaining Clients: Throwing a Birthday Party

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Some nice birthday gifts received from Catherine’s friends today and a wonderful party all around.

My wife did a lot to make it special and I was moved by the beauty of her happily getting lost in what truly was a labor of love…a commitment to excite and thrill our little girl.  

We stayed up pretty late the night before preparing hand-made decorations and favors in order to construct an “Arts & Crafts” themed party. She monogramed white oversized children’s oxfords with different colored fabric letters for guests to use as smocks they could use at the party and then take home. She also put together a “make-your-own party hat” station as one of the activities for the day and “sock puppet kits” comprised of everything from the sock with cardboard mouth pre-glued in to eyes, whiskers, spots and anything else required for the respective animal or creature-in-a-bag. These kits were packed in their goody bags as well. We both really enjoyed thinking of the animals and characters for which we spent hours cutting out their parts from sheets of felt and making a few of our own along the way.

The sample sock puppet my wife made was hilarious! It actually had a Muppet-like personality. Green yarn hair. Black googley eyes (complete with eyebrows), a long pointy nose and a long thin black mustache. I couldn’t stop laughing when she put it on for a trial run and made “Juan” immediately come alive with his Spanish accent and adult humor. 

Support Services: Translating "I can't do it!"

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http://www.janetlansbury.com/2012/09/when-children-cant-do-it-and-how-to-help/

The above link is to a great article which addresses a question my wife and I have had as to why our 3yr old daughter is continually complaining and whining/crying about not being able to put on her shoes or dress herself when we know she can. We have tried everything from: “Come on, show Mommy / Daddy how you can do it.” to “Stop this silliness…I know you can do it.” Which apparently may only be placing more stress on her. (I’ve even noticed that her pretending to be a kitty cat also coincides with her demands for help with tasks she has already mastered…as if she is trying to remove herself from the situation of expectation). When attempting to translate "I can't do it!" we try to look at other potential sources of frustration that may be manifesting themselves during dressing time. We did recently move half-way across the country and she is in a new school….both of which are events mentioned in the article as potentially driving the need for a bit more nurturing.

Lately, we have been trying to practice some benign neglect out of fear that we were babying our daughter and hovering too much. Although we don’t want to contribute to an overly dependent child, perhaps we are now over-compensating and hitting her with higher expectations too suddenly. The fact that she is attending school and thriving has definitely put me in a little bit more of an achievement mode for her and this article has helped bring me back to home base. We are grateful for this new perspective and after only two days of exercising this new approach we are seeing more independence with regards to dressing about 50% of the time. 

Talent Aquisition: Mommy's Job Offer

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As a specialist, my wife receives letters and postcards (sometimes twice a week) from recruiters and health systems all over North America. They never explicitly state which hospital it is specifically but they all guarantee: top salaries, high quality of life, national sports teams, major universities and “…a wonderful place to raise children”.

My wife is working very hard with a practice covering seven hospitals in three states and feels as though her employers’ commitment to her is as not as significant as her commitment to  them. She always says “Your first job is never your last…” So, after 5+ years of interest from Sanford Hospital in South Dakota, we’ve decided to take a look. Although we couldn’t imagine living in South Dakota... we did some research on Sanford Health and decided it was worth the visit. At the very least, it would be an opportunity for my wife to catch up with an old friend and former colleague for whom she has a tremendous amount of respect.

FAST FORWARD 7 WEEKS…  

When we arrived in Sioux Falls South Dakota, we were simply blown away at this hospital’s whisper of a “Talk” and thunderous “Walk”. Thanks to Premier One Bankcard founder Denny Sanford (and his $700MM in gifts so far…), Sioux Valley Hospital has been renamed “Sanford Hospital” (surprisingly) and transformed into a region-shaping health care network with an infrastructure of physicians in leadership and an outreach spanning 126 communities throughout 8 states. They are implementing several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and breast cancer. With both domestic and overseas satellites opening at a record-pace, Denny Sanford is creating an unprecedented momentum of ensuring the highest caliber of healthcare both in the Midwest and in 18 countries throughout the world (now developing international clinics in Ireland, Ghana, Israel and Mexico). Organizational growth and development with cutting-edge medicine, sophisticated research and advanced education like this isn’t seen in cities ten times their size.

We arrived the weekend of Sanford Hospital’s Annual Gala ( benefiting the expansion of their cardiac division) and graciously accepted what we believed would simply be an opportunity to meet some folks on the team and have a nice dinner. I’ve been to a lot of these events and they always seem to follow the same syllabus: cocktails followed by a President’s greeting, a few words of promise by the CEO or COO then a video presentation of the good work being done by talented physicians and administration’s plans for the future. Then it’s back to dinner and some dancing afterwards.

The Sanford Healthcare gala we attended not only brought one of the better meals I’ve had this year to our table (a perfect medium rare filet, roasted brussel sprouts and truffled potato gratin), but also tears to my eyes…and handkerchief. Never before have I been so moved by the parents of children whose life-changing stories were shared …or by the teams of dedicated people working orchestrally, from top to bottom, who selflessly make such a monumental difference. But the Sanford story did not end when the lights came back on. This was not a benefit injected with a presentation of “good work being done”. This was simply a spotlight on life at Sanford whose message of “Improving the human condition through exceptional care, innovation and discovery” didn’t end with a video. Improving the lives of children, specifically, didn’t seem like “just a job” people are doing here…it seemed more like a calling. An ingrained way of living life. A belief system that is evident in everything from the conversations between fulfilled guests at every table and the LED-illuminated spinning magic wands handed out on the dance floor (that surely made many a baby-sat children at home delighted in the morning) to the child prodigy pianist who led the orchestra all evening long.

I guess it’s just an overall feeling of genuine commitment to care and to the community of people who provide it…and there doesn’t seem to be a sense of (or pre-occupation with) time clocks, budgets or superfluous layers of administration associated with it. The passion was palpable and contagious. It’s hard to be around people like that and not feel a moral imperative to join them.  It’s hard to be a father and not want an amenity like them for your own child.

Now that some of our preconceived notions regarding the Midwest have been obliterated, we have a lot to talk about on the flight home.

Scientific Management: Decoding the Parent Gene

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“Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences. A large survey revealed multiple differing predictors of how individuals arrive at happiness (controlling for meaning) and meaningfulness (controlling for happiness). Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness.

Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self contributed to meaning but not happiness.

In short, one might say that this study finds that the contribution of something meaningful in our, or another’s life requires the sacrifice of personal happiness. What they fail to recognize is the inherent fulfillment and happiness a parent experiences when they contribute meaningfully to their child’s life in any way…regardless of the worry, stress and anxiety that may be involved.

My own conclusion… Parenting defies the laws of science through selflessness.

see-Businessinsider.com/ http://www.businessinsider.com/happy-vs-meaningful-life-2012-11

Outside The Box: Considering Relocating

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My wife just told me about an in incredible job opportunity she has in Sioux Falls, SD. She may as well have said it was somewhere in the Himalayas. Seriously, what’s the difference? I just looked at a map to see where South Dakota is located because, although i'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, my knowledge of domestic geography is akin to that of a child’s proficiency with jigsaw puzzles. I’m pretty good with the corners and edges but a bit dodgy on the middle.

Living in a big coastal city with a baby, where cultural arts abound, is a lot like having a pool. It’s nice to look at… and if you didn’t have it, you’d wish you did but at the end of the day, you’re basically paying a premium for an amenity that's really appreciated more by your friends and family than you.

Don’t get me wrong. I recognize the inherent value of a big city with access to amenities like superior health care and education, the arts / museums and concept dining…even if you don’t regularly take advantage of them. Chances are, those amenities have drawn others to the area that may not take advantage of them either. So at the very least, you’re left with having like-minded neighbors with similar interests.

We moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia (back to my roots) just before Catherine was born. We thought that growing up with trees and a yard was preferable to vents in the street spewing out the smells of the subway and buses heaving clouds of heavy dark smoke on top of strollers on the sidewalk. Moving back to the suburbs not only offered our daughter the same kind of childhood my wife and I enjoyed, but also brought us closer to my family who made it downtown about as often as a herd of deer.

So, moving to the middle of the country doesn’t really seem feasible… but we’re considering it.

Face Time: Being 100% Present

I'm learning to enjoy what originally brought me into the restaurant business. My family, my love of food and my appreciation of interesting company. When you are the one serving all the time... as opposed to the one being served, it's a lot like being a deaf musician.

I realize that my life is so much better now and that I’m so blessed to have everything I've ever wanted...everything that's important to me...and yet I still need to learn to relax and enjoy it. It's a strange feeling.

I’m getting better at not feeling as though there is something else I could be doing. Those feelings used to be a great source of stress regardless of how I channeled it or hid it. Not being able to complete a sentence. Not being able to make a phone call or finish a simple task like feeding the dog, folding the laundry or sending an email without this little person demanding my attention. It’s non-stop and as much as I love her, I can now understand the principles behind Chinese water torture. The constant repetition of something so innocuous (like light Bossa Nova or Yani or "Daddy!") over time can drive anyone nuts.

Being valuable meant being productive for so long….now I’m coming to terms with the beauty of things left undone. And in return, I’m able to catch one more of her smiles or share another laugh or just take one extra moment to remind her of how much she’s loved. This little girl wants my attention and should get it (most of the time). She deserves it. She’s already learned that she has me wrapped around her little finger and senses my stress when I’m not able to rush to her upon request but I’m curbing that now and practicing benign neglect (for her benefit more than mine). And as I watch her grow before my eyes, I’m struck with the seasonal nature of life and the fleeting of time. Before I know it, she’ll be 15 and telling me she hates me.

Best Practices: Mitigating the Pain of Traveling with Children

Whenever we fly, most passengers near us are impressed that Catherine is such a well-behaved traveler. Even when she was a baby…we would get off a plane and invariably encounter one or two people who would comment about how nervous they were when they first saw us board with a child. They would then tell us how surprised they were that she was so quiet and well-behaved. The secret then and the secret now is that I only book flights that leave within an hour of her nap time (as long as it's not the last flight of the day when folks like Delta, United and US Air are typically overbooking flights to begin with) so that by the time we actually board the plane, she is ready for a good cuddle and some shut-eye. 

Bottom Line: Committing to Being the Primary Care Giver... and Savoring It

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“Researchers have found that those who have made a strong commitment to an identity tend to be happier and healthier than those who have not. Those with a status of identity diffusion tend to feel out of place in the world and don't pursue a sense of identity.”

Kendra Cherry,

Identity Crisis - Theory and Research

Throughout all of this, I have had several moments of clarity…perhaps it would be more accurate to describe the latest as my great epiphany…not my discovery that industrial rolls of HP print paper are cheaper by the foot than the ALEX or Crayola brands that also fit the Potterybarn Kids Craft Table…it is rather my realization that, although I may continue to rely heavily on the skill sets I learned and honed in my previous jobs; I am really missing out on a tremendous amount of joy and closeness with my daughter by selfishly treating the responsibility of being her full-time father like a professional pursuit or project that could be mastered. I am realizing the necessity of committing to my new identity half-way through my year “sabbatical” of being a stay-at-home dad. Although I am grateful for this break-through, I can’t help but think of how short a window you have to assume a completely new identity …and by the time you figure things out, you may just miss it all.  I gave everything I had but confident that I missed-out on a lot in the beginning.  Sometimes I wonder if my learning curve would have been shortened if I had a father (as many women have mothers) to turn to…or any other man, similarly engaged, who was able to share their wisdom derived from a similar experience.  I spoke to my mom yesterday who told me, once again, that “…it goes by in the blink of an eye.” Only this time I understood. My mom continues to comfort me with her ability to commiserate, understand, laugh with, support and encourage me. I will tell her, today, that she is the reason I have so much to give my daughter and motivates me to share this diary in hope that I can shorten the learning curve for at least one other like-minded former working dad.

The following is an edited excerpt taken from: http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/identitycrisis.htm

According to Erik Erikson, an identity crisis is a time of intensive analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself… His studies of cultural life among the Yurok of northern California and the Sioux of South Dakota helped formalize Erikson's ideas about identity development and identity crisis.

Erikson described identity as "a subjective sense as well as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity, paired with some belief in the sameness and continuity of some shared world image. But it was James Marcia (1966, 1976, 1980) who expanded upon Erikson's initial theory. According to Marcia and his colleagues, the balance between identity and confusion lies in making a commitment to an identity. Marcia also developed an interview method to measure identity as well as four different identity statuses. This methods looks at three different areas of functioning: occupational role, beliefs and values and sexuality.

Identity Statuses

Identity achievement occurs when an individual has gone through an exploration of different identities and made a commitment to one.

Moratorium is the status of a person who is actively involved in exploring different identities, but has not made a commitment.

Foreclosure status is when a person has made a commitment without attempting identity exploration.

Identity diffusion occurs when there is neither an identity crisis or commitment.

Researchers have found that those who have made a strong commitment to an identity tend to be happier and healthier than those who have not. Those with a status of identity diffusion tend to feel out of place in the world and don't pursue a sense of identity.

In today's rapidly changing world, identity crises are more common today than in Erikson's day. Exploring different aspects of yourself in the different areas of life, including your role at work, within the family, and in romantic relationships, can help strengthen your personal identity.

Due Dilligence: Taking Great Activity Ideas Home

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Although I’m a big fan of spending time at the local pet store (AKA: The Free Zoo) and going on “Playground Tour 2012”…There are a lot of other things to do in the area.

This week, one of my best friends Jeff (who is also a professional Daddy) re-introduced me to Longwood Gardens. Like many other places I’ve visited as a childless-man, I was surprised to learn that there was a “children’s section”.

Longwood has an exhibit in the Indoor Children’s Garden “…filled with intricate water features, handcrafted artisan elements and engaging horticultural displays that invite children into an imaginative world all their own.” - www.longwoodgardens.org

Located in the center of these awe inspiring displays is a large stone fountain adorned with hand-carved dragons and surrounded by slate-tiled walls. A collection of buckets and small wooden-handled paintbrushes are made available for children for them to “paint” everything from the fountain itself to the cement floor beneath it…with water as the "paint" that temporarily darkens the surfaces.

As someone with large rocks lining their driveway and approximately 60’ of flagstone along their front walk, I immediately recognized the beauty of this interactive exhibit. The quick-drying “paint” motivates the children to continually create new designs or re-do patterns that have just faded… until you have to drag them away.

Needless to say… I bought 3 cheap paintbrushes at Sherwin Williams yesterday and am looking forward to Catherine’s reaction when I break them out this weekend.

So much easier to steal GREAT ideas from someone else than to think of them yourself. Whenever I’m at a loss for fun things to do, I guess I just need to get out with the openness to re-discover places and things I thought I knew.

Reminds me of the classic cure for “writer's block”.

Good Money After Bad? - Our Dog's 2nd Surgery (canis secretariat familiaris)

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After a couple of difficult months, our 1yr old Newfoundland (Lulu) was ready to take her rehab to the final step: Aqua Therapy. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief, not only because Lulu was getting better, but because this meant we would be able to take-up the grey non-slip indoor-outdoor carpeting I had duct-taped to the hardwood floors throughout our downstairs. We hated those strips of carpeting. It made our home look like it was under construction. We got so accustomed to them though...that, until we noticed people staring at them, we would forgot to explain the reason for them being there. 

So the moment we walk through the door to the Physical Therapy Center, she immediately dropped to the floor and began yelping in pain.  Literally, the second she walked through the door. This dog never yelps or cries out in pain. It was like the Kennedy Assassination sans grassy knoll….or any gunmen…but just a sudden and equally significant. Just as the therapist guessed, it was another torn ACL and although we said “this is it.” after the last one...we decided that, in light of i) all the effort and expense we already put in ii)Catherine’s developing attachment iii) the fact that she was only a year old and would likely recover well because of that...perhaps it wouldn’t be good money after bad.

So we decided to repeat the whole damn process of getting a TPLO for her other leg. Only this time we decided to bring in some part-time help because I’m not the goddamned Dog Whisperer!

Enter an amazing professional dog therapist and walker named Meagan. Meagan really is a huge help but now puts the number of house staff in excess of the people actually living here... which makes it kinda feel like we're not really managing things that well.

Perspective: I Thought The Restaurant Business was Tough...

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After 6 mos. of being a full-time dad I don’t think anyone could possibly imagine how difficult it is to be a full-time parent of a toddler unless they've done it themselves (for longer than a week or two). That being said, my wife recently attended a seminar in which they discussed the importance of understanding different perceptions of stress especially at home. Although surgeons may have to work under an incalculable amount of stress (and often with little sleep) in knowing that children’s lives hang in the balance and that there is no margin for error; everyone’s individual stress limit is relative to their own experience and personal threshold but no less in perceived magnitude.

I previously thought that very few people worked as hard as I did in the restaurant business. My dedication and sacrifice served as a source of pride for many years. Being somewhat of a professional masochist enabled me to develop a sense of self based on emotional co-dependence and giving up that which was most important to me: family, friends and the possibility of a long-lasting relationship. (The same things my wife sacrificed but with the greater mental and physical challenges… not to mention the longer hours and greater commitment that medical school and residency demands.)

“No one ever knows how difficult anyone else’s job ever is until they have to do it”. I’ve heard the adage at least a few hundred times before but it is the most humbling thing I've learned in trading my ego for closeness with my daughter...a joy few fathers ever have the opportunity to experience. I’m grateful for this blessing and the resulting humility.  

Setting Up Shop: Stocking a Playroom

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My wife and I went to the craft store yesterday and bought a shopping cart so full of stuff (colored cotton balls and pipe cleaners to popsicle sticks and finger paints) the cashier thought  we were teachers and gave us a discount. Catherine now has her own supply closet in her playroom located in our basement...which we prefer to call: “The Way-Downstairs” (as an homage to “the way back” of the classic Country Squire Station Wagons that very few families were lucky enough to own in the 70’s).

Cross-Pollination: Parenting A lot Like Dog Training

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“It’s not the dog’s fault... they need consistent exercise, discipline, and affection.”

“Your dog will mirror your energy and state of mind.”

“Calm and assertive. Calm and assertive.”

“After correction you need to follow through.”

Cesar Milan- The Dog Whisperer

Hmmmmmm....perhaps Cesar Milan's advise is just as congruent with parenting as The Super Nanny's.