The Day This Blog Died

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

I love this blog. Do I still love the name? Nope. If I could get into a time machine, go back to when I started this blog and a) dissuade my earlier self from getting that Gilmore Girls tattoo and b) change the name of my blog to something less creepy, I would totally do it. Nevertheless, BigDaddyPaul.com has given me the chance to make chicken dinner something out of chicken shit nothing. For every experience that has totally sucked for me as a stay-at-home dad, I’ve had the ability to think to myself, “At least this will make for a good blog post!” It often did, and I’ve had a fantastic time over the past 10 years wasting your time at work or giving you something enjoyable to read while using the toilet.

Even so, all good things must come to an end. It’s true! My favorite TV shows, “MASH” and “Anything with Tina Fey in it” were both amazing, and are now no longer with us. Also, Dr. Pepper Gum was my favorite thing in Junior High. Then, poof, gone, never to be chewed and then spit out flavorlessly after less than five minutes again.

Which brings me to the point: this blog must now die. Actually, this blog died on November 8, 2016, I just didn’t know it. On November 8, Donald J. Trump won the U.S. election, promising to deport millions of immigrants, restrict women’s reproductive rights, terminate collective bargaining rights for employees, roll back environmental regulations and eat undersized children. That doesn’t sit well with me. I am not going to take this lying down. (Can I get to three references involving the human body in a non-standing posture? Read on!) This was not something I am able to just squat thrust and forget about. (I did it! All three of them make perfect sense, too. Yay for me!)

The election made me have feelings. Strong feelings. Very strong feelings that I haven’t felt in a long time. What kind of feelings? The election made me feel sad. And mad. I should throw confused in there as well. But most of all, the election made me feel the need to go back to work.

What??

Yes, I want to go back to work. The guy who quit being a lawyer more than eleven years ago now wants to squat thrust his way back into the practice of law! Before my son Malcolm was born, I was a labor lawyer, dedicated to protecting workers’ rights in a number of ways. This was important work for me, able to feel like I was doing something with the good fortune that this world has given me. I eventually quit to become a stay-at-home dad, and while it was an adjustment, I was able to squash my notions of social justice by promoting gender equality in the workplace. This non-traditional, social movement of two was good enough for the longest time.

Until November 8. The election changed everything for me. I just can’t sit in my middle class bubble in my lefty part of the world, content that this new president won’t be able to do too much to me personally. The truth is that a large number of hard working Americans will get the snot knocked out of them by this new administration. That is just something that makes me cringe. And not cringe while standing up. This is a full on, down on the ground, lick the floor cringe. (I’m up to four!)

Alas, I am going to do more than cringe. I am going back to work and I’m going to fight. I’m not sure what kind of work, as I’ve changed a lot in the past eleven years. I will be able to spend a little time (hopefully) volunteering at some organizations that do great work and see what is a good fit for me. I will also get back into the hard work of lawyering by doing some contract work for my old law firm, building my skills back up and proving to future employers that I CAN show up to work every day. (with pants!)

As this blog is first and foremost an account of me being a stay-at-home dad, I have decided to shut it down. I can’t tell you how cool it’s been to catalogue Malcolm’s life (and mine with it) and share the funny little things parents go through when raising kids. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed the ride too. Thanks so much for reading. Every single person who told me that they enjoyed a post made my day. It gave me the inspiration to continue doing it, if only to subject others to inappropriate humor while they use the john. Thanks for everything, you are the best readers a semi-clothed, chubby dad could hope for. If we are not already Facebook friends, please hit me up.

As I leave you, I will give you one last little tidbit. Here is the picture I wanted to use for my newly created LinkedIn profile. Let’s connect!

img_4794

Actually, this blog is a treasure trove of embarrassing photos of myself. What better way to go out than to put them all together. Here you go! (Cue the sappy music…)

To the confused people on the airplane who couldn't figure out why I was crying during Mulan 2, "I'm sorry."

Party Time! There may be something on underneath. Then again, maybe not.

Thou Shalt Not Try To Ignore Me At A Restaurant!

Congratulations Amy! This is what Board meetings will be like!

I should have left the beard on all day, more cushion for the blows.

 

#6 - I want people to think that I am so prolific that I have four hands to write with. This really has it all, I am pale, blind as a bat and thoughtful. Who wouldn't want to read my writing?

Napping with Dad 2

I can't even see my feet anymore!

Malcolm enjoys his favorite beer

This is pretty much the grossest picture I could find of myself

Not sure why snorting the Cheerio seemed better than eating it, but what the heck do I know?

One of the many cringeworthy moments I have had shopping.

I may not have a degree, but at least I have enthusiasm!

Amy smiles, Malcolm gives a "sad clown" and, of course, I am talking.

No doubt, I miss this!

Never saw this one coming, eh? BTW, that IS beer in that baby bottle...

And then there is this. This is the picture that represented both the blog and Malcolm and I’s relationship for the longest time. I see this picture and I smile. I hope you do too. Goodbye!

 

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 Weirdest Things That Happened This Week

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork
  1. My Pants Don’t Fit Anymore

If it were up to me, everyone would walk around wearing a burlap sack around their body and a paper bag over their head. Then we’d all stop wasting so much time trying to look presentable. Seriously! 99% of the world’s problems would be solved within 2 years if we took the time we waste at the gym or putting on makeup on things like “Science” or “Learning-How-To-Get-Along-With-People-Who-Don’t-Believe-In-Your-God.”

Alas, the “Burlap and Paper Bag” look hasn’t hit just yet, so I am left with my usual baggy hoodie sweatshirt and baseball cap look. I noticed I looked a little puffier in this getup recently, and immediately weighed myself to discover the extent of my new-found largesse. I am 8 % heavier in the US than I was back in France! (8 % isn’t a large number when say, buying some breakfast cereal at the store, but adding that to an already questionable gross tonnage can have noticeably significant ramifications.) I was/am concerned.

Mostly, I was irritated why this was happening. While in France, I ate rich, unadulterated foods that had a way of communicating to my brain to I needed to stop eating. I don’t know how, but portions there are tiny and fabulous, (which is totally what I am going to name my all midget revue dedicated to Barbara Streisand covers.) American Paul AKA, “Fat Paul,” “Tubby P” or Amy’s current fave, “El Lipidor,” eats and drinks way too much, evidently whatever communication happening between my brain and belly in France has been silenced here. Also, I eat way too much of the following items which are more readily part of the American Dad Diet:

– Nachos

– Beer

– Nachos and Beer

Now, my pants don’t fit any more. The good news is that this means I usually don’t need to wear a belt. The bad news is that “El Lipador” will probably get diabetes soon. I gotta either figure out how to live here with some limits or get an extra large burlap sack and hope to change the fashion industry from the outside.

  1. We Bought 27 Bottles Of Wine At A Grocery Store!

I love a good deal. It’s hereditary. The happiest I ever saw my dad is the day that we went to a drug store that was going out of business. While in the store, they announced over the loudspeakers that all greeting cards were free. Not reduced. Not massively reduced, but free. My dad came out of that store with an entire shopping cart of greeting cards and tears in his eyes because he was laughing so hard. We didn’t pay for cards for a whole decade after. Towards the end, people were more likely to receive cards from us that read, “To my nephew on his Bar Mitzvah” than an appropriately worded greeting.

Were stopped at a store the other day to pick up some wine on our way to a friend’s house for dinner. (That apostrophe was intentional, Wolf’s, we only like one of you. You gotta figure out which one!) While at the grocery store, I noticed two shopping carts full of wine deeply discounted to around $8. Armed with a cool wine app called Vivino, I scanned each label in the cart, reviewed the cost of the wine and looked at the reviews to determine whether it was a good deal, and then snagged every single decent wine from those two carts.

Oh, and I went sailing! Look at me, I'm sailing!

Oh, and I went sailing! Look at me, I’m sailing!

While shopping, I had the same look of joy in my eyes as my dad did when when he walked out of that Thrifty store. That look led some other customers, curious as to how we could turn rummaging around in a discount wine cart into a joyous affair, to as us what the scoop was. Mostly, they wanted to know which wines still in the bargain cart were any good. I told them that everything in our cart was good and that nothing in the discount cart was worth it. They were impressed and mad at us all at once. The look, and the fact that we were in the process of buying 27 bottles of wine in the middle of the day at a grocery store, caused Malcolm to ask if he could join someone else’s family, preferably one that wasn’t so embarrassing. Maybe one day he’ll do the same and remember fondly when we turned Lunardi’s into our private wine auction.

  1. I Got A Job!

I like to cook. More specifically, I like to eat (see Weird Thing #1, above, for more details.) Stay-at-home-daddying has given a unique opportunity to learn how to do both, and after 10 years of watching cooking shows, and trying different recipes/techniques, (often turning chicken dinner into chicken shit,) I can confidently stay I am good at it. How good?  My lasagna scored a cameo in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VIII movie. Also, I have it on good authority that a ravioli I once made was being considered for Trumps vice-president. (Sadly, the ravioli was deemed too foreign.)

I recently decided to turn this passion for cooking and eating into an income stream. I am joining forces with a startup company to provide delicious home-cooked meals to friends and neighbors who don’t have the time/energy to do so for themselves. It’s a private supper club for people who like fresh, reasonably healthy food and don’t want to sit across the table from me wondering why I am wearing a burlap sack at the dinner table (again.)

I couldn’t be more excited! I believe in food as a means of expression, and cranking out my favorite meals is a way for me to hug my friends and neighbors in the mouth. (Look how awesome I am at talking about food, and I am just getting started!) I plan on cooking two nights a week, two times a week when I can share what I love doing with those close by. How lucky am I? If you live close by, how lucky are you!

Be on the lookout for more details. If you live in the area, be prepared to pony up to the “El Lipador” Express, because this kid’s going places. As I said, food is a way to express yourself, I have a lot of weird, wonderful things to express. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Japan vs. Omaha, A Photo Quiz

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

We took two trips recently. One was a family vacation to Japan, where we reunited with old friends, made some new ones and experienced a brand new culture. The other was a trip to Omaha, where we saw some reunited with other dear friends, made some new ones, and got to experience the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting first hand.

Rather than bore you with the nitty gritty details of each, I thought I would bore you with a photo quiz. What is a photo quiz, you ask? Shut up! I ask the questions around here. Here you go:

1. Which of the following breakfast items contained more grams of fat?

a) Breakfast in Tokyo:

Miso soup with clams, tamago (egg) and Tofu.

Miso soup with clams, tamago (egg) and Tofu with scallions and soy sauce.

b) breakfast in Omaha:

A Jumbo Honeybun

A Jumbo Honeybun

Answer: With a whopping 29 grams of fat in the 141 gram bun, this would turn every geisha in Japan who ate it immediately into a sumo wrestler. “Jumbo” doesn’t refer to the size of the bun so much as the size of your buns when you eat it. Evidently, Malcolm wants a badonkadonk.

2. Why was this sign put next to the port-a-potties in a Tokyo?

IMG_4664

Answer: I don’t know and I really don’t want to find out.

P.S. Perhaps this is just an opportunity in disguise. I am thinking a “CSI” type crime drama: “PPP: Tokyo” with PPP standing for Peeping Photo Patrol. Think Ted Danson would be interested?

3. Who is the most bad ass duo?

a) Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger

Screen Shot 2016 04 30 at 10.33.02 AM

Photo: Yahoo finance

b) These two

IMG_4559

Answer: Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger are billionaire geniuses that have made Berkshire Hathaway one of the most successful companies on the planet. They are 85 and 92 years old, respectively, and consume Cokes and peanut brittle like ravenous goats. They are rockstars in the corporate world. Still, Malcolm and Miu will one day have an album cover that looks like this and that automatically makes them the winner. The album will be titled, “Only one of us uses chopsticks.” (Malcolm and Miu were classmates in Paris. That they will continue to be friends despite being a world apart is kinda awesome.)

4. Is this the best beef in the world?

IMG_4599

Yes, yes it is. This is called Ohmi beef, a type of Wagyu cattle that is raised in certain areas of Japan. You’ve probably heard of Kobe beef, but Ohmi is every bit as good, if not better. The name really means, “Ohmi-fucking gawd!” We had it at a Shabu-Shabu restaurant in Kyoto, sliced paper thin and then boiled for five seconds in a broth, along with some veggies. Look at that insane marbling! It was dreamy, that’s why the picture came out the way it did.

Our friends in Omaha served us some fantastic beef from half of a cow that they recently purchased. It was spectacular. It could not, however, compete. That’s because an Ohmi steak, served like the one pound T-bone that we had in Omaha, would cost $700. Yowza!

5. Which was more crowded:

a) this intersection:

IMG_4655

or b) this “meeting”:

Image result for how many people went to the berkshire hathaway shareholder meeting

Photo: wsj.com

Answer: They were the same! Too many people! Too little space! The Shibuya crossing in Tokyo is said to be the busiest intersection in the world, with as many as 2500 people crossing the street with each green light. It’s a lot like surfing, except with more surgical masks. The shareholder meeting is also crazy. 40,000 people go to it, filling up the nearly 8,000 seat arena and spilling into overflow rooms. Like I said, Buffett and Munger are rock stars. They had an event at a high-end jewelry store the night before, serving dinner and drinks to people who were free to roam around and check out fancy watches and diamonds, etc. There was no space to eat, so we saw plenty of people hunkered down on the floor, devouring the meatballs and carved roast which was offered at the buffet. Considering the cost of a single share of Berkshire Hathaway stock is more than $200,000, I am pretty sure we saw millionaires and possibly even billionaires eating floor meatballs. Insane!

Lastly,

6. We’ve traveled to many parts of the world and seen many interesting things. For my money, you can’t beat re-uniting with amazing friends. This is my friend:

IMG_4924

She is out there every day, fighting for what she believes in. She inspires me to do the same. Find your friends, eat some steak (or peanut brittle) with them, and conquer the world.

 

Why Lazy Parenting Is Good Parenting

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Daddy Stories

I am a lazy parent. Well, maybe not a lazy parent, but certainly I am lazy-er than I used to be. I think back to when Malcolm was small and a typical day involved making baby food, changing diapers, feeding time, reading time, play time, tantrum navigation, trips to the park, trips to the store and then, to top it all off, a lengthy pre-bedtime ritual which involved bath time and redoing many of the other things before he would finally drift off to sleep. Phew! That is a shit ton of work, and I am frankly surprised we ever made it through it in one piece.

My approach has changed somewhat over the years, bearing little resemblance to the (some say hovering) presence I used to be. I trace this transformation back to one specific thing that Malcolm used to do: asking me to wipe his butt. Mostly, it was the way he asked: he’d scream, “Wipe!” but really I heard, “Wipe it, loser, and hurry up, I got stuff to do!” The whole transaction reeked of an impolite transaction between an over-entitled business traveler and a shoe shine guy at the airport. There is only so much indignity that a parent can stand, and one day, when Malcolm summoned me, I declined. Of course, he was incredulous, like it was some great honor for me to be involved in his bowel movements at all, but I held my ground and made that kid wipe his own arse. After a lengthy back and forth, he accepted the new truth and began caring for his own backside. That was seven years ago. (In another seven, he will probably start getting it right!)

I felt good for a number of reasons after refusing to wipe Malcolm’s butt, the most notable being the feeling that sometimes, when a parent doesn’t do something for their child, the child is actually better off for it. You will never learn to wipe your butt if your parents do it for you. So why do it then, unless you like wiping butts? In this age of helicopter parenting, could it be that sometimes the best thing a you can do for you kid is to stop doing the thing that you don’t want to do anyways? Wow! Over the years, I have been utilizing this principle to make Malcolm do the things that I don’t like doing, whether it’s putting away his  laundry, making his school lunch, or diagnosing his own communicable diseases.

I realized recently that I was feeling guilty about not being more proactive in certain areas of Malcolm’s life. A bit of reflection has allowed me to recognize that there is more going on than lazy parenting. Here is what is happening:

  1. Play dates.

Malcolm has been asking me a lot to make play dates with this or that person. I don’t like doing it, they require a lot of details and, more importantly, I have to figure out stuff for them to do. Plus I totally get all caught up in the soap opera-esque subtexts: Why this kid and not this other? What happened to fun with gal pals? What do I care? My parents may correct my memory on the subject, but I remember being in fifth grade and I don’t remember parent organized play dates at all. When I was a kid (D’oh! The dreaded words of parenting. Fuck it, I don’t care!) playtime occurred when child A got on their bike and went over to child B’s house. If child B was home and wanted to hang out, they would both get on their bikes and check out what child C was doing. Things continued to a small gaggle of kids had coalesced and adventures were had. Now, we are stuck in this parent controlled system where everything is pre-authorized, pre-planned, and pre-negotiated. Yuck! I hate it, both because it robs kids of their own invention and causes me extra work/mental energy. I recently started telling Malcolm to schedule his own time with other kids. It has had limited success; I am still involved in more of the process than I want, but Malcolm is making all the initial overtures. It would be a lot easier if all his friends lived in our neighborhood.

2. Summer Camp

I used to have Malcolm’s summer schedule planned out by mid-February. I was heavy on camps of differing interests, science camps, sports camps, cheap get dirty and tired city parks and rec camps, grandparent camps, with a few weeks reserved for he and I to engage in some shenanigans. I have nothing set up for Malcolm this summer. If he has some interests that he wants to explore in greater detail this summer, let him figure it out. I don’t feel like it is my job to tell him what he should find interesting and then spend a bunch of time and money getting him summer exposure to it. Oh, I’ll help him identify and plan anything he wants to do, but my days of overscheduling his summers are done. In practice, this means that if he wants us to fork over the cash for him to go to Minecraft Camp, he is going to have to do the leg work himself!

3. School

Malcolm’s preschool and kindergarten severely limited parental involvement in the classroom. At the school, students did all their work in the classroom and parents had little or nothing to offer to help with the kids’ learning (other than money!)  Malcolm has changed schools many times since then and certainly the schools’ cultures have changed as well. My approach hasn’t, though, and I don’t like getting involved in Malcolm’s classwork. If he can’t figure something out, he knows that he needs to ask the teacher about it. I am interested in his schoolwork, for sure, I am just not interested in helping him do it. I ask to look at his work once he is done with it, and rarely if ever, point out the all the wrong answers. He recently had a big science fair project and I can gladly say that the sum total of my contribution to it was going to the store, at his direction, and buying some poster board. Luckily, the project was not a complete disaster, as Malcolm’s partner’s family doesn’t hold the same “hand’s off” policy as ours. Lucky him!

I am not always 100% comfortable with my take. I would like it if Malcolm were more social, pursued his interests more and was more diligent in the outcome of his school work. I mean, who wants their kid to have a shitty science project? Not me, for sure, but Malcolm is ultimately going to have to decide whether he is the kind of kid who will figure things out or just suck at stuff. I will only get in the way. Sometimes, the lazy approach is just what they need.

This is what's really going on in my mind...

This is what’s really going on in my mind…