Kids: Wanting a Dog

My twelve-year-old son has wanted a dog since he was five. For a number of reasons, we’ve been putting him off.


First, and foremost: we have a cat - a very old cat. We adopted Basie from an animal shelter only a few days before she was to be euthanized. We’d gone to the shelter looking for a young cat, maybe a kitten. Basie was fully grown, and was sitting in her litter staring out like she knew she was a goner in a shelter full of adorable kittens.

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Starting School

 Credit: UA Archives - Upper Arlington Public Library (Repository: UA Historical Society)

“Can you believe our firstborn is starting school?” My wife asked me this question a few days ago, her eyes going wide as she said it, and it ridiculously enough took me completely by surprise.

My son is about to start Begindergarten, which is a cute way of saying an “Early Fives” class. He is going to attend it in an elementary and he will be there all day just like all of the bigger kids, using their same cafeteria and their playground (not at the same time, of course). My wife and I were so focused on getting him into the right school in our area for the last eight months that I didn’t realize until recently how much this change meant for all of us in our little family and for him.

This was about to be something new…


In preparation of this first day over the weekend we drove him to his new school and allowed him to play in the playground for about an hour. While he loved playing in the playground (trying everything he could), I kept noticing things, my parental eye kicking in.

  • Who was it that left these empty beer cans here on the playset? Will these people who would drink at a kids’ playground be around the school? Heaven forbid, or will they actually be attending?
  • Why are there so many weeds?
  • And are those soccer nets going to be fixed?
  • Is that rust?

Yes, while this playground is better than anything I had growing up (and this is a great school district), I still was catching everything I possibly could. This could be a super power of mine. A lame super power, but still a power. You can call me “Protective Dad.” And I am here to shake my head and wag my finger at others! Irresponsible people of the world be warned! Protective Dad is among you now!


But my son… I don’t know whether to be impressed that he is not terrified like me or to think he is amazing at possibly hiding it from me. He seems to have absolutely and utterly no fear. Isn’t he nervous about making new friends (friends that might stick with him for his entire life)? Being around all those bigger kids? Going to a new place? I wouldn’t dare ask him those questions out loud, worried they might affect his thoughts, but they’ve run through my mind ever since my wife asked me that earthquaking question.

To be Charlie Brown or not to be Charlie Brown…

I always had this fear that when I had a son someday he would be Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown is a good kid stuck in a cruel world, surrounded by supposed friends who have no problem using him at one moment (“Direct our Christmas show!”) and then calling him a name and laughing the next (“What a blockhead!”). And throughout all of the meanness, every year (for fifty years) Charlie Brown is a good guy, probably the nicest in the creation of Schulz; making you almost wonder if he is stupidly naïve to the neighborhood around him, or if Schulz is trying to say something about people like him and I’m just not catching on to it. Seriously, I can’t even remember a time Charlie was mean to another character (besides the random yelling at Lucy during a baseball game) and I have read almost every strip.

Charlie Brown is almost dangerously innocent.

The fact is my son is not Charlie Brown. He was always popular at his day care, worried about other’s feelings (kids and teachers both cried over his leaving), and has a sense of humor. Seriously, he loves to make different voices, almost making me wonder from time to time how often I have heard his actual real voice.

Becoming a dad…

I always loved the idea of becoming a parent; and during the first few years of my marriage I was the member of the partnership, much to my wife’s slight annoyance, who was always asking when. “Now? Are we going to try for kids now?” Definitely not a fair thing to bother a person with while they are working their way through graduate school or starting a new job! If anything I was guilty of romanticizing the idea of parenthood, not registering the actual truth of what the job entails once it begins.

When we finally did get pregnant, I had to be almost held back from declaring it from the rooftop, sing it from Facebook to Twitter. The concept that my son was on his way took over all of my waking thoughts, and I did everything but wear a shirt shouting I was about to be a dad, as if we had done something entirely new. An accomplishment of epic proportions!

I even read to my son when he was in utero, working my way through the first entire book of Harry Potter and half of the second. I had voices for all of the characters, much to the chagrin of my wife. My Hermione voice annoyed her but I thought my Hagrid was brilliant.

When my son emerged into the world, frankly, I wasn’t prepared for it. While I had attended birthing classes with my wife, read books on raising children (we had a nice collection, purchased by us or given to us; which always made me wonder initially if those givers thought we would need help), watched videos. I even practiced putting diapers on a stuffed toy! Trust me, I was ready for everything… just not this new overwhelming feeling of responsibility.

This baby is my son.

Seeing reality in a new light…

While before the news would slip passed me—I have always enjoyed NPR but it still existed in something akin to an audiobook I was listening to then—but now with my son everything became more real. Wars were in my world (a plane trip away), random shootings because guns are so prevalent in our society could happen everywhere and did, and every horrific story about children from around the world seemed to now star kids that bore a striking resemblence to my son. I almost considered turning off the news, avoiding every bad story (hands over my ears shouting “Na na na na na!”), but I have creativity, and honestly my brain could make it all up without the radio’s help.

We have three wild boys living next door to us. They never seem to wear shirts, looking like something out of a movie about the deep south (only missing a jug with a cork in it and a banjo), and they always seem to have something broken, bruises, or are shouting at each other about something. My most vivid memory of their arrival next door is of seeing their youngest for the first time; he was peeing on their porch. We have even caught them running on our garage roof.

Is my son going to be surrounded by kids like this? Are young boys like this going to be convincing my young son to play with fire and light large fireworks like we caught them doing one night, passed any reasonable person’s sensible idea of late in attire that looked very flamable?

Meeting him again and again…

When my son was born two things happened to me that first moment I heard his cry and saw his little round face. The first is a realization that that is my boy (Simple of me, I know, but in that instant he went from a daydream to reality). The second is one that has haunted me since and even led to me losing sleep and affecting all of my dreams (the one I mentioned earlier): responsibility.

I am responsible for this brand new human soul, and I would hold him during those early days overwhelmed by how awesome a responsibility it is. What I do and how I handle myself around him could affect his entire life and that is true for every day I am a parent.

Every single day.

Why more parents aren’t overwhelmed by this thought is beyond me…

But now, at this school, I’m not right around the corner, ready to grab and hug him with each fall. He is a student now, on his own, and I need to put my trust in others to think of my son while he is there. I am putting my trust in his teachers, the other students, those students’ parents, and, for the first time, in him. Trust has never felt like such a big word until now, since this almost five-year old in front of me, in my mind, is still that little baby I held for the first time calming him immediately with the sound of my voice.

Yes, I keep going back to that first day, when I first heard his cry and soothed him for the first time, repeating like a mantra: “It’s okay… you’ll be okay, I got you.” I am certain I will think it the entire moment I walk him into the new school, remembering that moment and those words, surrounded by all of the other kids and parents, my hand tightly gripping his. “You’ll be safe. I got you… I got you.”


Most recently, Scott D. Southard is the author of MEGAN and MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS, both can be found on amazon.com here and from Google ebooks here. He can also be followed via Twitter (@SDSouthard) and his personal blog.

Music: When You're A Kid

When You’re A Kid by Shira & Friends is a fun filled five song EP full of upbeat engaging tunes. Shira has a strong voice and the lyrics are all about having fun as a kid, or what a kid can do to have fun, or finding the things that make you happy. The title track is a great opener, about how music can get you moving and it’s quick beat is sure to encourage little ones to get up and move.Read More

At the Green Table: Salade Niçoise with Lobster

 image salade nicoise with lobster

This well-known Mediterranean salad originated in Nice in the Provence-Alpes Côte-d’Azur region of France.  In its traditional form, it is generally made with only the best quality raw vegetables and extra-virgin olive oil and,  perhaps, a bit of lemon juice.  From there, in typical French fashion, numerous regional and international variations have developed.

Our Salade Niçoise recipe includes steamed lobster, French potato salad, steamed and raw fresh vegetables, anchovies, artichokes, Niçoise and Picholine olives and a tarragon vinaigrette.  But every ingredient can be modified or replaced to make it your way. Rather than lobster you can add shrimp, scallops, salmon or tuna, either fresh or preserved.  If you like to use tuna, I would suggest that you try a good quality tuna packed in olive oil, ventresca tuna or even a more expensive blend of Mediterranean tuna.  David Rosengarten has a short article in “The Rosengarten Report” that describes the differences between the various types of preserved tuna.  But use your favorite brand of canned tuna and it will still be an outstanding dish. Beyond the lobster, you can add your favorite vegetables, different olives, eliminate the anchovies, use a different vinaigrette. One popular version uses white wine and chicken stock, for example. You can even serve a warm version of a salad niçoise.  Two good examples are the Warm Salmon Salad Niçoise from the Rouxbe Cooking School,  and the Hot Niçoise Salad from Gwyneth Paltrow. This technique works especially well when the weather is colder and good ripe tomatoes are not available.

Once again, experiment and enjoy.


View the full recipe for Salade Niçoise with Lobster in our Recipes section.

Music On Deck: video edition (for kids)

We always switch over to music at bedtime. Being mildly sadistic, we were tuning in to the “Light Classical” channel provided by our lovely cable company. The idea being that it would help everyone calm down before bed while instilling a life long appreciation for the beautiful music that was being forced into their little ears. Being force fed classical music as a child did just that for me, but I wasn’t making a transition from Ninjago to Pachelbel, which turns out is just too dramatic unless there are pretty pictures to help ease the pain, shcok and horror of bedtime. At a certain point, we had a rebellion. They will not, cannot, go to bed without the musical transition, but they demanded a change in style. First we moved over to the moderately torturous “Toddler Tunes” (turnabout is fair play I suppose) and now by mutinous demand (after the channel switched from happy toddler friendly backgrounds to solid black), we’ve moved on to videos on our AppleTV. They Might Be Giants is the running favorite (we have a very scientific bent and a devotional love of numbers here), but we’ve begun a nightly demand or no one will go to bed without at least one run of The Shin’s “Simple Song”. There is hope after all. Though it is nearly impossible to tear them away to actually go to bed without a quick reversion to the “Toddler Tunes” just to reel it back in and get up the stairs. Here are a few bedtime worthy videos for the little ones that you will appreciate too.





Inspiration: A little bit of everything... (for kids)

So, I’m staying up past my bedtime to get this done. And I’m beginning to reconsider my moment of enthusiasm, fleeting moment of enthusiasm, that made me think I could do this. The thing about children is that they just wear you out. They are fun, beautiful, funny, smart, frustrating, amazing, awe inspiring and ever so exhausting. I remember when I’d just be having dinner now, at least 4, 5, 7 or more hours away from going to bed. Now, at 10:59, I’m pooped. And I’m also thinking, if things don’t go my way, I could still be that far away from sleep and I’m going to be sorry I was typing instead of getting at least a little nap. And yet, I’m still going on. I am so far behind on pointing out all of the beautiful, wonderful things for little ones that I’ve been seeing lately that I’m not even going to try to get it all in. I missed Playtime NY last week because I was playing with my own little ones and can never really stand to tear myself away, but I’m hoping to go through everything that was at the show soon and report back here, at least with a few pins and images of all that little lovely. 

















Source: etsy.com via Green Spot on Pinterest



Things we love for kids: Babyganics Smooth Moves Daily Lotion with SPF

BabyGanics Smooth Moves Daily Lotion with SPFI have been a huge fan of BabyGanics since the very first product we tried, which was their very first product, and I’m always thrilled to try and use anything from this fabulous company. In fact, our house is filled with BabyGanics products from top to bottom and has been for many years. I’m always finding new products that I haven’t tried yet as their line constantly expands, getting bigger and better. BabyGanics is a company that has been dedicated to producing safe effective products for children and their families.  More importantly, they have managed to produce safe, effective products for our babies, homes and selves that actually work. Not only do they work, they work really well and often do it better. There is very little that we don’t clean without something from BabyGanics and we cannot live without our Bye Bye Dry products. Nothing we’ve tried gets close to taking care of the excessively tough, dry skin & eczema patches that we all have. It’s so lovely that my children ask to be moisturized instead of running away. It always amazes me we can use BabyGanics to clean our toys, floors, counters, tables, hands, bodies and hair so well plus find so many other great products to protect and care for us throughout our home and even outside. My 4 children and myself all have very sensitive skin, so finding products that are safe to use in every way is always a thrill, but to find so many from one company is outstanding. Recently, I was asked if I’d like to test out a new product and so, of course, I was thrilled.

BabyGanics Smooth Moves Daily Lotion with SPF is another fabulous BabyGanics product. It starts out with the same fabulous features of the other Smooth Moves Daily Lotions: Hypoallergenic, Fragrance Free, Pediatrician & Dermatologist Tested with no Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates or Toxins. You’ll find natural plant-based ingredients like Shea Butter, Aloe and Vitamin E for super-gentle, super-safe moisture that goes on smoothly and easily on anybody’s skin- baby or adult- and keeps it that way- smooth, moisturized and happy. What it brilliantly adds is a broad spectrum UVA/UVB 15 SPF protection to your daily routine. This lotion is safe for children and adults, head to toe, even little faces, so you can easily protect everyone in your family every day in one step. It’s an excellent way to work sun protection into your daily routine. (follow directions & if your baby is under 6 mo, ask your Doctor first, of course). You’ll probably still want to use a full fledged SPF 30 sunscreen (see BabyGanics full Suncare line here) at the pool, beach or when you know you’ll be out for long periods of sun exposure or reapply this one more often, but this is a great way to give everyone some basic protection on those regular days. Also perfect for those times when you don’t really feel like you need to slather on suncreen, but you still need some protection like overcast days or early morning trips to the playground and late afternoon fun in the yard. If you have little ones that are hard core sunscreen resistant because of the texture or scent of it (like 3 of my 4), this is a great way to overcome that and slather on an SPF. Because it’s a moisturizer it glides on smoothly and feels just like an every day lotion, so they accept it and move on instead of screaming about he gooey white stuff mommy’s trying to force onto their faces. I have tested it on myself and my children and it’s done a superb job. It’s been great on even our most sensitive and super dry skin and we are all happy to slather it on, which says quite a bit in itself. It’s safe, effective and makes my life easier all while protecting my children. So, yes, it’s a winner in so many ways.

Find out more about Babyganics Smooth Moves Daily Lotion with SPF and the fabulous, full line of BabyGanics products at the BabyGanics site. If you don’t know already know how extensive the line is, you might just be surprised at how many ways BabyGanics can make you happy on a daily basis.


* A sample was provided for review purposes.