Daily Pixels: The Belly Button Store

A few days ago, The Princess and I were enjoying some time in the yard.  I forget what we were doing, but I suspect it was the usual “time in the yard” activities.  I was most likely inspecting the plants, and The Princess was probably swinging.

I decided to head in, and I mentioned “Let’s go in and see what Mommy and Little Dude are doing.”

The Princess replied with, “Nope.  I’m going to the belly button…the belly button store.  To get a new belly button.”


I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  I laughed and headed in.

Such a great comment.  Out of nowhere.

Does this mean she’s growing up, and her imagination and humor are taking shape?  Or is she’s holding on to the innocence of early childhood and talking nonsense?

She knew it was funny.  I think she was telling a joke.

She loves going to school now.  And she’s learning a lot in the first month.  All signs are pointing to The Princess doing a great job growing up.

And tonight was the next step towards adulthood; no more booster seat.  She made the request, so we made it happen.

We’ll see how it goes, but I think it’s in storage until Little Dude needs it.

Booster Seat

Booster Seat

No Booster

No Booster Seat

Ruffled Feathers

Ruffled Feathers

Ruffled Feathers

The Dude can be a bit abrasive at times.  Not intentionally.

I think most dudes have a tendency to be a bit rough around the edges.  It’s sort of the nature of dudes.  We say how we feel without mixing too many words.

This abrasiveness can lead to a difference of opinions, and from a blogging perspective, it can lead to disgruntled readers.

It seems my post about Mrs. Dude’s spill the other day has ruffled a few feathers, including Mrs. Dude.  And for this I am very sorry.  My intention is never to offend.

I jumped into the world of blogging for a few reasons; I have an itch to write, it gives me a great opportunity for self-reflection, and the blog creates a chronicle of our lives for us to look back on for years to come.

I love the idea of capturing moments as they happen, when emotions and thoughts are still raw.  And Dude Knows Best gives me a chance to capture these raw moments.  We can’t recreate life, and as time marches on, moments are gone forever.  My goal is to grab moments as they happen and make sure they aren’t forgotten.  I want to remember what happened, what we looked like, where we were, who we were with, what we thought, how we felt.  Good and bad.

Yes, I can determine the subjects covered and what details to include, and I want to protect emotions and take other people into consideration.  But I also want a truthful look at our lives.  I’m not trying to over-share, but I’m also not trying to sugarcoat.  I want us to be able to look back at our lives in the raw form.  For better or worse.

Looking back, and readers looking in from the outside, we may not agree with all of the thoughts or feelings, but at that moment, when my fingers are stroking the keys, these are the raw thoughts and feelings.  I don’t check with Mrs. Dude prior to writing, so I’ll never claim to speak for her, but I can say with unequivocal certainty that we are a team and I respect her thoughts in the same way that she respects mine.  We may not always agree 100%, but we will never do anything to harm each other.

My blogging is a bit selfish.  Selfish from the perspective that I do it for myself and my family.  I love that people enjoy reading it, and I want my readers to be happy with what I write, but in the end, the blog is crafted to chronicle the Dudes in their raw form, and this raw form may not always agree with outside opinions.

As for the Concussed post, outside interpretation seems to view the post as a bit callous and focused on the wrong priorities during a time of need.  I can see this perspective.  I don’t agree, but I respect those opinions.

I love my family more than anything, and I’ll do anything necessary to protect and keep them safe.  The decision that Mrs. Dude and I made to wait out her concussion was not done lightly, and by no means was money the driving force behind the decision.  Mrs. Dude’s safety is always priority number one.

However, I don’t disagree with my statement that “a trip to the emergency room will cost a pretty penny,” and I can’t ignore the fact that money plays a role in healthcare decisions for 99% of the world population.  To quote the wise voices from Metallica, “It’s sad, but true.”  Healthcare costs money, and while it certainly isn’t the top priority, health and safety will always hold the top spot, I would be less than truthful if I ignored that it plays a role in decisions.  And, as I’ve mentioned, my goal is for a truthful, raw blog.  I’m interested in protecting, but not glossing over.

Western medicine has made the world a safer place, and it saves lives every day.  However, it’s not magic, and the people practicing medicine are just people, people making educated decisions with the information and experiences they have been exposed to.

While I believe Western medicine is great, I do not have 100% faith in it, nor do I think anyone should.  Mistakes are made, difference of opinions are rampant, misdiagnosis is probably more normal than correct diagnosis, and how many times have health professionals made steadfast claims only to turn around and say the opposite at a later time?  I believe wholeheartedly in guidance, but at the end of the day, we need to make the best decisions for us based on the advice we’ve received and our personal experiences.

The Dude and Mrs. Dude are unbelievably fortunate to have two amazing nurses in our family, my Mom and Mrs. Dude’s Mom.  Both Moms were exceptionally concerned about Mrs. Dude after she fell, and rightly so.  Head injuries are very serious, and subtle changes can have major impacts, possibly deadly.  The guidance that we received explained this to us with great emphasis.

Mrs. Dude and I understood the risks.  However, we also had the benefit of experiencing Mrs. Dude’s symptoms first-hand.  We saw that she was coherent and her symptoms were fading.  We also understood that 9 out of 10 times things are ok (that might not be the exact ratio with head injuries, but you get my point).  If Mrs. Dude expressed concern or seemed less than coherent at any time, the decision to seek medical attention would have been an easy Yes.

Is it wise to gamble like this?  There’s no good answer to that question, but what I can say is that life is a gamble.  Every day we wake up we gamble.  I don’t view the decisions we make with our health and wellbeing as any different than our everyday gambles.  I view it as an assessment based on the information available and our personal feelings and experiences.

Yes, we postponed going to the hospital, and in the end everything worked out.  Does this mean we got lucky?  Yeah, but we get lucky every day we make it to bed in one piece.  Does this mean we made the “right” decision?  I don’t think we can qualify health decisions as “right” or “wrong.”  They are personal choices based on our best, personal, judgment.  If we went to the hospital, I certainly would not qualify that as “wrong.”  But we didn’t, and things are good.   So, I guess I would qualify this as the right decision for us in this particular situation.

I don’t view this healthcare decision any differently than I view our choice for Little Dude’s natural birth or our decision to monitor Little Dude after the choking scare with no medical attention.  As a team, Mrs. Dude and I are making the best decisions we can with the input that we have available at the time.  We are more than happy to listen to and consider all opinions, but at the end of the day, we need to live with the consequences of the decisions we make…just like everyone else.

I’m sorry for any ruffled feathers.  I do not mean to offend, but I can pretty much guarantee that this won’t be the last time readers have a difference of opinions with thoughts expressed at Dude Knows Best.  That’s the risk I take writing in a public forum, and it’s the risk you take reading.  I hope we can respect each other’s opinions and continue to enjoy the Dude Knows Best experience.  I’m going to keep writing, and I hope you keep reading.

Thanks for the feedback.  I guess it’s a good post if it ruffles a few feathers.

Daily Pixels: Concussed



These “Daily Pixels” have been a bit less than daily.

Photography is Mrs. Dude’s assignment, so she’ll have to get crackin’.

But we need to cut her some slack considering she landed on her head yesterday. Literally.

It’s been a rainy few days, and our wooden stairs can be a bit slippery when wet.  As she carried Little Dude out, she lost her footing.  Her mommy instincts kicked in, and she protected the Little One.  However, with hands occupied protecting, Mrs. Dude had a head-on collision with the stairs.  Literally.

I answered my phone at work to a crying Mommy and a screaming baby.  Yikes, is right!  Not what you want to hear.  She explained that she fell.  Little Dude seemed alright, but she couldn’t tell and it all happened so fast.  There wasn’t much conversation.

I boogied out of work, and got home as quickly as I could.  Luckily, the scene had calmed down considerably.  Mrs. Dude and Little Dude were quiet on the couch.  She seemed uncomfortable, but he seemed ok.  I scooped him up, and he seemed happy.  I scanned his body, and moved his limbs and all was in working order.  Dodged a bullet.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Dude was a bit more banged up.

Look at that X-ray!

That’s what her’s could have looked like if we went to the Dr.’s.  Yeah, we didn’t go to the Dr’s.  Always a tough call.    We never want to sacrifice health or safety, but a trip to the emergency room will cost a pretty penny.  It’s a fine line, but we tend to wait injuries out a bit.

Mrs. Dude had all of the symptoms of a concussion; kaleidescope vision in one eye, headache, and nausea.  But all of the symptoms passed pretty quickly, so we decided to give it some time.

After some rest, she was pretty much back to normal.  I woke her up every two hours last night to be safe, and this morning she was at work.  A bit sore, but up and about.

Whew, we made the right choice.  Mrs. Dude survived.

Thanks for being a great Mommy, Mrs. Dude.  You definitely took one for the team.

Now, how about those Daily Pixels?

PS – As I read through this post, Mrs. Dude laughed while watching TV, and she felt her rib pop.  It’s now sore when she takes a deep breath.  Broken rib?  Just wait it out, right?

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

It’s 2010.  We have women’s suffrage.  Women have broken through the “glass ceiling” in corporations worldwide.  I read the other day that for the first time, more women are now graduating with PhD’s than men!

Women have made huge strides in equality, but from where I sit, Mom’s still keep the house together.  I think it’s an instinctual ability.

When Dad  steps in on a solo mission, there’s always a chance for a little craziness.  The mission will be accomplished, but it’s never quite as smooth as when Mom handles it.

Tuesday offered a good test.  The Princess had her first dance class, followed by soccer practice numero dos, and Mrs. Dude had her first photography class.  It was a busy day.  Tuesdays will be busy for a few weeks.  If you do the math, this leaves the Dude managing all parental tasks including to and from soccer, dinner, bath, bed…sans Mrs. Dude.

Solo parenting is tough.  There are a lot of challenges managing multiple little lives.

Parenting definitely creates an environment conducive to increased levels of stress.  Opportunities to worry.  Reasons for frustration.

But, it also gives us a catalyst to focus on the moment we’re living in.   Worrying and/or getting  frustrated with kids makes the situation that much more difficult to handle.  Kids sense emotions and energy, and when the energy is off, kids tend to shut down.

It’s an interesting task running a solo mission and trying to balance peace and tranquility with the hurdles along the way.

Ever heard of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?  It grabs my attention every time I see it at a bookstore.  I’ve never read it.  I don’t have a motorcycle.

But, based on assumptions I’m making solely from the title, I think parenting offers similar opportunities to motorcycle maintenance.  Parenting is stressful, but we have a choice between letting stress get to us or going with the flow.

I’m no Zen scholar, but my loose understanding could be summed up with the phrase “going with the flow.”

So, Zen and the Art of Parenting.

I approached this solo mission as most dads would, blindly.  I didn’t give it much thought.  See, dads tend to stumble our way through things.  Like that whole not asking for directions stereotype…it’s a stereotype for a reason.

I planned to leave work a little early, pick up the kids, and hit the road.  Shouldn’t be more to it than that.

Except, he’s hungry and his milk supply is leaving to learn how to snap pictures, so it’s bottle time, it’s getting chilly so he needs to change, might as well change the diaper, make sure the diaper bag has all of the necessities, Princess needs to get dressed, she needs to find her cleats and shin guards…and put them on, she needs a water bottle, and the dogs should probably go out.

Ok.  Not quite as easy as pick up the kids and hit the road.  Thankfully Mommy was there to offer these suggestions prior to me leaving the house with a hungry, underdressed baby, and a soccer player without her gear.

To test my stress levels, these instances always seem to stretch to the last second of available time.  So, we’re rushing out the door.  But there’s really no rushing with a five year old and a 3 month old.  Life just moves at a slower pace.

I realized this as we meandered to the car, and I decided to move slower but more deliberately.  Give myself time to make decisive actions, and ultimately move at the pace kids move.  But more importantly, I was focusing on the task at hand…the present moment.  I was moving slower, but I was more efficient with my actions.

We pile in, and Little Dude starts to wail before we’re out of the driveway.  He’s been doing this in his seat lately.  Not a big fan of being locked down.  But we didn’t have time for consoling.

We hit the road, and I reached behind me trying to soothe him.  Yeah, not the safest idea, but a screaming baby requires a bit of risk taking.

As I pull to a three-way stop in the neighborhood, I let the car to my right and the car across from me go before me.  Both slightly beat me to the intersection.  Once they passed, I made my way through the intersection, and some dude decided he was playing the role of Citizen Patrol and yelled “Nice stop!” at me.

I’m still reaching back trying to soothe a screaming baby.  The windows are down, so he should be able to see this.  This seems like a situation where regardless of a minor traffic infraction, you should probably give the driver the benefit of the doubt.

Plus, I did stop!  I let two people go!  Perhaps I was rolling slightly, but it was a stop.

It seems like these types of situations always happen at the most inopportune time.  A perfect opportunity for me to lose it.  But before any words could pass over my lips, my mind jumped back in and reminded me slow down.  Getting upset isn’t going to make this trip any easier.

In a minute or so I was passed it, but Little Dude was not past his screaming.  I pulled over and was able to calmly tuck some blankets around him, and he was asleep in seconds.  If I had been mad, that stop would not have been that easy.

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Eventually we made it to the parking lot.  As I’m wrestling with the Bjorn, the pacifier bounces out of his blankets and rolls under the car.  At this point I’m relaxing into things, and rather than letting that be the straw that breaks my will, I recruit The Princess, and she crawls under to grab it.

We roll into practice a couple minutes late, but we are all in good spirits, and we didn’t miss much.

Mission accomplished.

Well, except that whole dinner, bath, bed thing.  But the kids were great, and I was practicing my Zen and the Art of Parenting, and we were good to go.  Whatever minor hurdles we encountered along the way we easily surmounted.

And the reward for a job well done, other than the opportunity to practice a little Zen, is a hug and kiss goodnight from a princess and  some Dude/Little Dude bonding time with lots of silly voices, tickles, smiles, and a five second lock of the eyes where it was clear connections were being made.

My boy is starting to realize who his Daddy is.  Glad I was in the Zen frame of mind to enjoy the moment…well, five seconds anyway.

Daily Pixels: The Princess Gets Her Dance On!

Videos have pixels, right?  Well we’re extending our Daily Pixels to include videos.  How ya like me now?!

Last week I discussed The Princess’ sportiness, or lack thereof.  I’m happy to report that after a little more tutoring and the second team practice, The Princess is feeling more confident on the soccer field. 

I witnessed her feet moving fast enough to be considered a run, and I even saw her steal the ball from another rugrat during practice! 

However, she did spend the majority of the practice staring off in the distance rather than listening to the coach, and she’s become very skilled at staying just far enough from the herd surrounding the ball to make it look like she’s trying to be involved, but not really. 

Definitely lacking that killer instinct.  Perhaps princesses aren’t supposed to be killers. 

But, hey, we’re improving.

However, like I mentioned in my last post, dance is probably a bit more natural for The Princess.  She had her first dance class on Tuesday, and the teacher actually pulled Mrs. Dude aside after the class to say she was impressed with the confidence and poise The Princess had. 

And if that’s not enough to demonstrate The Princess natural inclinations, this video should seal the deal.  I haven’t seen this kind of fire and enthusiasm for a split second on the soccer field.  She is a free-flowing dance machine! 

Everyone is made different, and apparently The Princess was made with dance in her blood!

Daily Pixels: Sporty Spice

The Princess started soccer this week.

We’ve been building up to this for a while; little black cleats with pink accents, black socks/shinguards to match the black cleats, and some Dude/Princess practice time.

Our practice time focused mainly on kicking, passing, and stopping the ball.  Some good basics, but our practice wasn’t very consistent or intense.  Lots of lolly-gagging and goofing around.

The Princess did get a hang of the basics.  She can pass the ball and stop it pretty well.  But after witnessing the first official practice, I realize some additional basics would be helpful.

Soccer was the Dude’s jam back in the day.  I played from age 5 – 20, including a couple years in college.  So, needless to say, my hopes may have been set a bit high.

I played a lot; rec, travel, club, college.  But I’ve never coached.  Playing and teaching are two different things.  After doing something for years, the basics become some ingrained that it’s easy to overlook the learning process that led to the assimilation of the skills.

The Dude/Princess practice time didn’t focus much on the rules or physicality of soccer.  We didn’t focus on the running, bumping, falling, positions, watching the ball, what to do when the ball is not near you, or even what the goal is for.

This was the Princess’ first go at a full scale team practice of any kind, and her first real experience with soccer.  Not to mention it is a 5-6 year old league, and she’s 5, so most of the other kids are bigger and have experience.

It’s a lot to take in, so I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt, and I can honestly say that she did a great job just being there and not getting overwhelmed.  However, “sporty” may not be the adjective we use to describe The Princess.  I’m still holding out hope, but words like pretty, sweet, graceful, artistic, friendly, or great style may be more fitting.

My gut is saying that dance (starting next week), may be a bit more natural.  But I’m still holding out hope, and we’ll have some additional Dude/Princess practice time today.

This picture is a bit deceiving.  It looks like she’s actually running!  My guess is it was just a fast walk.  Most of her practice time was spent chatting it up with a girl in a pink shirt (she’s attracted to pink like a bee to a flower), spinning in circles, and avoiding the ball.

At one point, The Princess and another underachiever were actually sitting on the field talking (yes, sitting) while the rest of the team played a scrimmage and raced towards the idle chatters.  Luckily she realized the group was hurdling towards them and was able to get out of the way at the last second.  However, getting out of the way of the ball is generally frowned upon when you are the last line of defense.

Oh well, she survived her first soccer experience, and we’re looking forward to practice number two this week.  But we’ll have a little extra Dude/Princess practice time.

And I’ve started subliminal messages to Little Dude to get him mentally prepared for his time on the pitch.  After this experience, I figure it’s never too early to start.

Sporty Spice

Sporty Spice

Daily Pixels: Double Sessions

Hurricanes can be quite destructive.  We witnessed some of this wrath a couple weeks ago with Hurricane Earl.

On the flip side, hurricanes and create some of the sweetest gifts Mother Nature has to offer, awesome waves.

Hurricane Igor is moving through the Atlantic, and he’s falling on the side of sweet gift giver.  Swell from Igor arrived today and offered the Dude the rare opportunity for a double session.  A dawn surf session before work and a post work surf session.

Watching the sun pop over the horizon while floating on a surfboard is a pretty great start to the day.

Thanks Igor.

This is not the Dude pictured here…just a stunt double.

Dude's Stunt Double

Dude's Stunt Double

Week 12 – Groovin’

The Boy is three months old this week.

Time flies.

Week 12 has been pretty much status quo.  We’re getting back into the flow after a short vacation and the hurricane, so just settling back into routines.

Groovin’ right along.

This picture elicits an immediate smile from the Dude.

Little Dude

Little Dude

As does this song.

Daily Pixels: Apocalypse Now?

This beast is sitting in our driveway tonight.  Mrs. Dude has it out on an extended test drive.

It’s got to be the apocalypse, right?

Are we about to buckle under the pressure?  Are we about to do the unthinkable?  Have we really become a minivan family?

I’ll preface this next line of thought by saying that my feelings could be drastically different if I was the chosen one to drive this monster on a daily basis, but deep down I kind of dig the minivan.

It has so much room!  And bucket seats in the back…that recline!  And doors on both sides.  And captain’s chairs in the front!

I’m going to get Mrs. Dude a captain’s hat to wear when she drives it.

I can picture us cruising to the beach, surfboard on the top (yeah it has roof racks!) the windows down in the front (because no other windows open in that tank), stereo up full blast, Mrs. Dude with the captain’s hat on, the kids each with their own seat in the back, and me reclined in one of the back bucket seats enjoying the ride…and asking if we’re there yet.

Awesome.  Where do we sign?

Apocalypse Now?

Apocalypse Now?

Daily Pixels: Game Changer

The Dude is frugal.

No two ways about it.  I don’t like to spend money if I don’t have to.

Mainly because there seems to be a shortage on the cashish for just about everyone these days.  Trying to keep a stash under your mattress seems like a wise idea.

Plus, knock-offs and generics usually provide pretty good opportunities to save a few bucks.

However, there are times when the old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true.  We just received our Baby Bjorn in the mail after three frustrating months with a knock-off, and it’s clear we should have opted for the name brand.

Baby Bjorns are awesome.  I’m not sure why the knock-offs don’t buy a Bjorn and copy it a bit better, but they don’t…at least not the one we had.  Simple, sturdy, durable, comfortable; everything the knock-off isn’t.

A game changer for me and Little Dude.  Comfortably attached to my chest, he can now be much more productive with the Dude around the house.  Thanks Baby Bjorn.

And the icing on the cake, my frugality has rubbed off on Mrs. Dude, and when we decided to bite the bullet and get the Baby Bjorn, she hunted it down on e-bay for half the price.  Sweet justice!

Game Changer