Friday, February 29, 2008

The Green Dad

Last summer I decided to take small breaks from being a stay-at-home dad and return to the workforce, if only for a few hours at a time. I hired Jen, our babysitter, to come over three afternoons a week so I could help Megan and RSI Kitchen & Bath research green building and how RSI could become a part of the green building market. I was overwhelmed by how much I didn't know, and reached out to people in the green community, both locally and nationally, to help me so that RSI could in time help them. Green builders and environmentalists have been the most helpful and giving of their time than any group I have worked with. With plenty of support, Megan and I began to wrap our heads around green building and what RSI needed to do to support and encourage it. Through the process, I got to know people all over the country who have begun to send people my way who have questions when it comes to green kitchens and baths. One national website that I used extensively in my own research,, recruited me to write for their green building site,, as their kitchen and bath guy.

Yesterday my first article was published - it's currently the top article on You can also view it here

Click on my name and you'll get a bio and pic. They'd like me to write 1-2 times a week, so bookmark or subscribe to greenbuildingelements and check back often if it's a subject you are interested in. Also, if anyone has story ideas for me, send me an email or leave a post here. I'll be writing about kitchen and bath issues that deal with health, energy efficiency, and environmentalism.

This doesn't mean I will be giving up on being STL Homeboy. In fact, a stay-at-home dad blog out of New Zealand called DIY father is publishing some of my content (with my permission, of course.) Here's a link to one of my stories they published: They also want me to do a podcast for them, but first I need to figure out exactly what that is.

So that's what's going on over here. Oh yeah, I'm also raising two kids. If it seems like a lot, it is, but I'm happy that I'm doing something(s) that involves writing.

(Wow, that's a lot of links up there)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tots in swimsuits = grandma magnet

Sitting there on the beach watching Clara play chicken with the crashing waves and Kate pat down small mounds of wet sand, I can see the grandmas coming from far down the beach with their bright white smiles brighter due to their overtan faces - and I know what's coming, because it happens almost every time. Kate will look up from her sand creations, give a short wave, and say "hi!" The grandma, who may have been considering walking on by with only a smile, will have to stop now and tell the girls just how wonderfully precious they are. Clara will skip circles around the lady and say "hi" every time her foot hits the ground. Next come the stories of how long ago their kids were sitting on this same beach playing in the same way twenty or thirty years ago. They'll ask the girls their names and how old they are. Clara will pronounce "three" as if it started with an "f" and Kate will say "two" but hold up five fingers. The grandmas will beam at them. They will tell me where their kids are now and what they are doing and when their own grandchildren will be coming down to visit. They don't ask a lot of questions, and that's OK. They're only half present, taking a trip down memory lane. And then they begrudgingly pull themselves away and continue down the beach, looking back often. Then another one comes...

There is an aspect to the grandma visits that makes the beach more enjoyable for me. As I'm sitting on the beach with the kids, the memories of the morning's battles are still fresh in my mind: The crying over who got to sit on what stool, the refusal to do what I asked, the fights over who gets what beach toy, the running away naked when I'm trying to change them into their swimsuits. The grandmas of course do not remember those parts of their kids' beach days, as well they shouldn't. And when I'm sitting there with the kids watching the grandmas long to be me again, I find it easy to forget them too.

P.S. Kate is the one who likes to run around outside naked when I'm trying to put her suit on. The other day I met a lady at the condo complex who said to me, "I don't believe we've met. Your daughter, however, I've seen quite a bit of."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The myth of equality

Let's admit it, as much as we'd like our children to be treated equally, to have equal access to experiences, and to have the same opportunities for fun, learning, and growth, the lives of two siblings will be vastly different. It's not because we love one more the other or discipline unevenly, but because one was born first and the other was born second. It's as simple as that.

Clara was only seventeen months old when Kate was born, and, fairly or unfairly, almost immediately we began to treat her as older than she was. After all, there would be a baby in the house and Clara would have to be more careful and learn how to touch more gently and so forth. Around her sister, Clara didn't get to be a normal toddler. She had to be more responsible. And when in a moment of jealousy or just toddler roughhousing Clara bloodied Kate's face, I came down probably too hard on Clara, who didn't know what she was doing but couldn't be allowed to do that again. And so I forced her to be even more responsible, and overprotected the baby. In doing so, I probably affected Clara's development as a person.

Last Sunday Kate turned two and I was struck by how much younger she seemed on her second birthday than Clara did. The difference is that Kate has been allowed to act her age, having no one younger to be responsible for. Already I've seen her try to use her age to her advantage, initiating a quarrel with her sister but then looking to me when Clara fights back.

I know their differences will lessen the older they get, and though Clara will always get to experience first things such as sports, a grade in school, or an art or music class of some sort, their experiences will start to approach equality and there will come a time that they face new things hand in hand. But as a parent I find it hard and I know I will continue to find it hard to treat them equally, to expect the same kind of maturity from both of them, to not blame Clara only for the mistakes they make together, to allow Clara to be a little kid the way I allow Kate to be. It's something I know I have to continue to improve on - there's too much at stake not to.

Happy birthday, big brother.