Posts Tagged ‘ Sesame Street ’

Teaching My Son To Be A Modern Day Southern Gentleman

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

21 months.

“Jack, be gentle.”

Every time I tell my son that in an effort to help him transition his playful hits into gentle pats, I feel that I should also tell him to be nimble, quick, and to jump over the candlestick.

Of course, somehow I don’t think my son is yet qualified to jump over a candlestick.

His most recent accomplishment is graduating from a focused obsession on Elmo; now also including Ernie and The Count as part of his Sesame Street favorites.

“Five. Ah. Ah. Ah.”

Jack always says it so seriously. And he never actually counts before or after the number 5. Just 5. About three times in a row.

I love teaching my son new things. And fortunately, he loves learning from me.

It’s only natural as a parent to want to prepare your child to become everything you wished you were by the proper age. In particular, I am very aware that I am always thinking of how I can instill in my son how to be an all around gentleman.

(Because we live in Nashville, I feel the need to add the word “Southern” in front of the word “gentleman” to get the full effect.)

Even if right now the greatest lesson I can teach him is to not hit his friends like he’s in some kind of Toddler Fight Club

I look forward to the day when I start giving him advice on how to talk to girls. Because let’s face it: I’m good at it. (That’s how I met his mother.)

And though my skills as a handyman aren’t much better than the token goofball 1980′s sitcom dad, I think it will be really fun to (try to) teach him how to fix stuff around the house.

Just as important as knowing how to use a wrench and a power drill, I believe, is knowing how to keep a tidy house.

I’ve read enough trendy Ecards on Facebook to know that being a true, relevant gentleman in today’s culture means being very active in the household chores.

Yes, I want my son to be able to caulk a bathroom sink. But I also want him to be a natural at cleaning that sink along with the shower and toilets.

As for myself, I feel that I am really good at a couple things, and am fairly clueless on the rest.

That’s not how I want it to be for my son. I want him to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of some.

On top of that, I believe it’s also largely up to me to teach him how to treat people with respect; thinking of them before himself, while at the same time being able to stand up and fight for himself when necessary.

I figure, too, that in my attempts to teach him all these things, I can become better at them myself.

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Transitioning My 20 Month-Old Into TV Time

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

20 months.

I have always felt very strongly against allowing my son to watch TV before the age of 2 years old.

Yes, I am one of those quirky parents who believes there is a link between boys under the age of 2 watching TV daily and Autism.

As a father of a little boy, I am very aware that boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls.

While I know there are many factors as to why, it’s interesting to point out that males compartmentalize their thoughts separately from each other, while females constantly intersect theirs.

That explains why when you ask a guy what he is thinking and he says “nothing,” he is probably telling the truth. Because he is currently in his “nothing box.”

But if my understanding about females is correct, they can never truly “think about nothing” the way males can.

In other words, by default, the male mind already works like a TV. If he needs to think about a different subject, he has to change the channel in his head to that subject first. But the female mind works more like a laptop computer with at least 8 windows up and running at all times.

She is used to the constant multitasking in her brain. Meanwhile, guys are built to be task-orientated, so they stay on that certain channel until the job is done, or change the channel and come back to it later, as if during the commercial break.

The theory is that during those very crucial first two years of a boy’s life, he is still developing his “how to properly change the channel in his head” ability.

So a boy who is exposed to a TV during that crucial time of development, with changing channels, switching camera angles, and no natural pauses in conversation, can get confused and the channels in his head start changing on their own.

Another reason I am convinced of this theory is explained in an article for Slate Magazine, where it is revealed that the reported number of Autistic cases shot up in 1980 (just a few months before I was born), when cable TV and VCR’s became easily accessible in American households.

The number of Autism cases were higher in states where the weather was gloomier (like Oregon and Washington) where children were more likely to stay inside and watch TV.

Interestingly, cases of Autism are nearly non-existent in Amish communities where TV’s are nowhere to be found.

I also support this article in Time magazine which says that TV cuts down on a toddler’s “talk time,” according to pediatricians.

Well, my son is now 20 months old; that’s just 4 months away from that “TV is now safe” milestone of 2 years old. So recently, I have been more flexible on his exposure to TV.

He’s still very obsessed with Elmo. Fate would have it that Sesame Street is on now Netflix’s live streaming. (We don’t have cable or a satellite.)

One of his new routines is for me to turn on Sesame Street in the morning while he plays with his toys or the Wii remote. I keep the volume very low as to not interrupt any conversation between the two of us.

The funny thing is, he doesn’t actually watch the show. He totally doesn’t have the attention span for that right now.

All he really wants to do is just point at the screen every once and while and say “Elmo” or “dog” or “noodle,” referring to Mr. Noodle in the Elmo’s World segment.

My son likes the idea of watching TV, but when given the chance, he doesn’t actually watch it.

Here’s the twist: I really look forward to the day he does want to. I haven’t watched a Disney Pixar movie since Toy Story 2 came out on DVD like a decade ago.

I have a lot of catching up to do!

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When Jack Met Elmo: A Bromantic Comedy

Friday, April 27th, 2012

17 months.

It all started when my wife Jill made up a bedtime song for Jack, which featured that famous furry red monster on Jack’s diaper.

From there, Jack  started asking for Elmo by name; though his pronounced version sounded more like “M’elmo.”

Jack has a plush alien toy that he halfway assumed was Elmo (featured above), but I wasn’t able to put that off very long. Once that proved to be a bust, Jack started falling asleep  in his crib while holding an Elmo diaper; the kind featured below.

Plus, whenever he saw a pictures of frogs in a book, though he knew the actual word frog, he started citing them, “Elmo?”

We decided it was time to buy him a small, simple, licensed Elmo doll. But actually finding one proved to be as about as difficult as finding a Tickle Me Elmo during the Christmas of 1996.

You would think finding a simply plush Elmo doll under 10 bucks would be pretty easy. Nope.

Last Sunday afternoon we travelled to Walmart, Babies “R” Us, and Target. While they did have the 9 inch tall Grover as well as some yellow mohawked version of Telly for $7.99, none of the stores had Elmo!

Thanks to, Jill was able to find Elmo for double the proper price, by the time shipping was thrown in.

I’ll go ahead and say it: We became “those parents” during the three days it to took for Elmo to arrive.

It was the kind of material that would have made for yet another clever episode of the flawless TV show, Up All Night.

Throughout the Elmo anticipation, Jill would text me updates on where Elmo was at that moment:

Jill: “The tracking # shows Elmo is leaving Sarasota today!”

Me: “Wow! That’s great news. Can’t wait to see Jack’s reaction…”

I kept reminding myself of the possible reality that when the “real Elmo” finally arrived, Jack might not be that impressed.

Well, it’s only been a few days since the moment Jack officially met Elmo (featured right) and I think it’s safe to say that we made a solid $15 investment.

After all, Elmo already has a spaghetti sauce stain on his eyes. Jack has to be holding Elmo at all times in the car, during meals, and in his crib.

So, how will Jack and Elmo’s bromantic friendship flourish? Well, just keep an eye on how many pictures in upcoming Dadabase posts feature Elmo somewhere in view.

That’s how we’ll know.

At this point, I don’t believe Jack really understands why he’s supposed to love Elmo so much; but if for no other reason than to appease his hip parents.

He just goes along with it.


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Intelligent Design: Love from a Scientific Perspective

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Nine months.

If we were restricted to only see the world in terms of science, where would love fit into that picture? I guess it could be said that love, along with all other human emotions, is ultimately necessary for not only procreation but also the desired human interactions that help move us forward as a society. Carpenter ants and sea horses do not need to feel anything emotionally in order to survive and multiply, but we humans, being much more complicated, are not devoid of personalities or the need to feel needed by others. We need love.

So somewhere in the evolution from fish to ape to man, love randomly showed up in the genes and proved to be fit for survival? It sounds pretty miraculous to me…

That’s why, along with the Jewish actor/political commentator Ben Stein (The Wonder Years and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and the Christian actor/evangelist Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), I am a devout advocate of Intelligent design.

In other words, I reject the popular and politically correct theory of evolution and/or The Big Bang Theory. Instead, I believe that man was literally created by God, from dust, as it is explained in the book of Genesis- in six literal 24 hour days.

What about dinosaurs, though? After all, men could not have survived alongside vicious, giant lizards.

Interestingly, The Book of Genesis explains that in the beginning, God gave the herbs and plants for the people to eat. It wasn’t until ten extremely long generations later (people lived centuries long back then) when Noah and his family exited the ark that God told mankind A) that animals would begin fearing man and therefore, B) that people should now starting eating animals as part of their diet.

Therefore, I believe for ten long generations, people and animals of all kinds coexisted, all living on a vegetarian diet. Radically, I believe the world is around 10,000 years old; not millions or billions. That’s just the Cliff Notes version of Intelligent design. Feel free to read another blog post I’ve written on it; or google “Intelligent design” to learn just how “out there” I really am.

Simply put, I believe that love is just simply too miraculous to have randomly showed up on its own. I believe that love did not evolve, but instead was created and given as a gift from God to man; so that man would share it. For me, thinking about love from a scientific perspective only points me to one simple idea: love is part of God’s intelligent design.

The love I share for my wife and son comes from God; not chance.

Unexpected Bonus!

It has never been more appropriate than right now for me to give away a free copy of the brand-new, just released, children’s book, Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love.

The book seems to encompass the artistic sophistication of a classic Caldecott Medal winning book along with the multi-ethnic oneness of Sesame Street. It’s a nostalgic return to the good children’s books I read as a child growing up in the Eighties, but with a modern accent. I believe this book would especially be ideal for parents who have not yet raised their children in a particular religious household, but who are now more interested in doing so; the book would serve as a great transition into teaching them about God’s love.

Now, as to the one lucky winner who will be mailed a copy of this book, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post telling me how many weeks old my son Jack was when we gave him his first haircut. Make sure you send me an email ( with your name and mailing address so I’ll know where to mail it.

Need a hint? Use the search box on the right side of this screen.

Excerpt from the back cover of Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love:

“Willie Juan and Ana’s home is always full of neighborhood children, laughter, and love. One day, while enjoying Ana’s most delicious sopapillas, Willie Juan asks a most curious question:

‘Little friends, what is one thing you think Abba will ask you someday when you are in heaven?’.

Through their answers, Willie Juan’s guidance, and a few giggles, the children learn that God cares about the details of their lives and that all good gifts- from hummingbirds to homemade sopapillas- come from Him.

This book will help kids discover how deep and wide and endless is the love of God. A love so BIG that no matter what, they will always be smack dab in the middle of it.”

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The Minor Details

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

What will be his or her heritage?  How tall will he or she be as an adult?  Boy or girl?  I’m answering the tough questions today, based on educated theories.

This series isn’t a “baby blog”.  Instead, it’s a documented journey of what a first time dad thinks about, starting from when I first found out and started sharing the news with everyone.  Because this info is coming from a man, who processes things in black and white, it’s possible that the tone will be a mix of both practical and abstract.  No goo-goo gah-gah.  But maybe a little nanu-nanu.

In fraction form, here are the proportions of my coming child’s ethnicity:

1/4 Italian (my wife and I are both this)

1/8 Croatian (from my wife; Croatia is the country we know today as “Transylvania”, The Count from Sesame Street speaks with a Croatian accent)

1/8 Mexican (from me, my mom’s mom’s family moved to Buffalo from Mexico)

1/8 Norwegian (my wife’s grandfather on her dad’s side was from Norway, but was adopted by an English couple in Iowa)

1/8 German (from me, where the Shell name comes from, as well as a little bit from my wife’s Norwegian side)

1/8 Irish (my wife’s grandmother on her dad’s side came to America as an indentured servant from Ireland)

1/8 English (from me, where the pale skin and light freckles come from)

*Greek (higher up on my dad’s family tree, there were two separate Greek ancestors; family tradition tell us that a Greek ended up on the Italian side as well)

*French (in my wife’s Italian lineage, family tradition tells us that a Frenchman got thrown in the mix)

*Jewish (my Mexican grandmother swears that my late Italian grandfather was part Jewish, and based on the family’s speech patterns, uses of random Hebrew words, and quirky behavior, I’m convinced it’s true)

Virtually, on both my wife’s side and my side of the gene pool, there is no man 6 feet tall or more, nor is there a woman 5’ 8” or more.  Combined with the fact that I am 5’ 9” (the average height of the American man) and my wife is 5’ 6” (two inches taller than the average height of the American woman), here are the most likely height ranges for our child once they become full grown:

Boy: between 5’ 8” and 5’ 11”

Girl: between 5’ 3” and 5’ 7”

Hair color on both sides generally ranges from medium brown to jet black, therefore it’s most likely the child will have semi-wavy, dark brown hairThough I do have two blonde-haired, blue-eyed aunts and also a red-headed, green-eyed aunt as well.

In one of my Mexican grandma’s dreams, the baby was a girl.  But based on a Vietnamese co-worker who correctly predicted the gender of my boss’s kid based on a Chinese calendar, he told me that there is a 70% change it is a boy.  My wife’s mom gave birth to 10 kids, and only 3 were girls.

My instinct tells me it’s a girl.  We’ll know in eight weeks if I’m wrong.

All this baby guesswork makes me think of those commercials for Puppy Surprise from 1992:  “Puppy, puppy, puppy surprise…  How many puppies are there inside?  There could be three, or four, or five…”

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



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