Spring Break Woo!

My wife and I both work in education, and last week was spring break, so we had an entire week with our kids. After the initial excitement of having time to clean and do yardwork, we dragged ourselves to two specific destinations: Davis Farmland in Sterling, MA, and Edaville in Carver, MA.

Davis Farmland was an incredible treat, because within five minutes, Lucas was feeding a week-old baby cow. A petting zoo and a family park in one, Lucas was able to hold baby goats, chase baby lambs, see a python, jump in a moon bounce, dig for fossils, drive go-karts, and enjoy his favorite thing: slides. We were thoroughly impressed the whole time we were there, especially when it came time for Sydney to nurse. The whole park was incredibly family- and mommy-friendly, and Staci can’t rave enough about the great nursing areas they provided.

In short, Davis Farmland is tight, yo.

Edaville was also similarly fun, with the caveat that half of it is on a lake and it was so windy that my whole family cried (true story). The main draw here was ThomasLand, a Thomas the Tank Engine themed amusement park, and Lucas was absolutely enthralled the whole time (until the Great Lake Sadness). The food was very bad, and there wasn’t enough seating for everyone in attendance, but the rides were extremely fun and we were able to ride them all with Lucas, making for a memorable day.

Also, the toys there are the most expensive trains in the world, which should come as no surprise.

None of this should be seen as advertising for these places, although you should definitely check them out if you’re in Massachusetts with your kids, because the #gteam had a lot of fun.

But the thing that I enjoyed the most wasn’t the goats, or the train ride, or seeing Lil’ Sebastian. It was seeing the joy in my son’s face when he got to see a giant, life-size Thomas that we got to ride, or the determination he had when he held a baby goat as carefully as he could. He’s growing again, and he doesn’t look as much like a mini-me anymore, but his spirit of joy is still strong.

It was a great week.



This is not about the Goo Goo Dolls.

It’s spring break for the #gteam this week and the weather also happens to be incredibly warm and nice, so we have spent the whole week outside. Lucas has fallen in love with his swing set again, particularly with the slide. He’s a pro at it. Climbing up, sliding down, he can even stop himself at a specific spot and jump off.

Now, listen. I know that my son’s Extreme Slide Skills are not particularly impressive. But, this is one of those weird parent things that you obsess over because you are so excited. Using a slide is incredibly mundane, and it’s 90% gravity. However, when your toddler is yelling to you, “Dada! Watch me! Me so cool!”, you can’t disagree with him.

His dominance over a slow incline was further asserted at the local playground, where he took a ride on a roller slide and totally killed it. We couldn’t keep him off of that thing. His face lit up every time he inched his way off of the top, and it was infectious.

I adore everything my son is excited about, because his happiness fuels my own happiness. I’d do anything for him, and seeing him have the time of his life gives me an abundance of joy that is unmatched by anything else I’ve got going on.

Lucas wears his heart on his sleeve, so when he’s excited, I know that he’s excited to his core, and I get to see what complete excitement looks like. Turns out, it’s super cute.

The Why Cycle

Last night, it happened.

“Lucas, take a bite of your dinner.”
“So you can get big and strong.”


That’s right, we are firmly in the Why Stage. Being a naturally curious person myself, I’ve always said that when my kid gets to the point where he’s asking a million questions, I’ll answer them. My wife and I believe that children should have their questions answered (appropriately), and our answer will never be “Because I said so”, as that doesn’t teach them anything other than to stop asking questions, which is the last thing we want. That being said, I thought I was ready for this.

I didn’t know it was going to be just like it is on TV! I didn’t realize that it wasn’t going to stop when the scene ended! So I’ve exhausted myself, laughing through explanation after explanation, while he gives me the same inquisitive look and asks it again, “Why?”

As much of a pain it is to have to explain literally everything in the world all of the time, I’m sticking to my original, uninformed outlook: it’s not that bad. I’m choosing to see it as a positive instead of a negative, because even though we are dead-tired after a long day, I’d much prefer my son to be asking a ton of “Why?” questions, rather than vegging out in front of an iPad.

Questions are the fastest way to understanding, and I want my children to ask as many as they can.

Daniel Tiger is an Essential Show to Watch

When Lucas was six months old, we happened upon a cartoon called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I was incredibly angry throughout the whole episode, complaining that it was a ripoff of  Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, which I grew up watching and loved. As the credits rolled, I saw that it was produced by The Fred Rogers Company, and I was back on board.

Since then, Daniel Tiger has become a staple in our household, and Lucas has many toys and DVDs from the show. It’s usually the show he likes to watch the most, and although for the past year he’s had a whirlwind obsession with Paw Patrol, lately, he’s come back to Daniel.

The thing that’s stuck the most lately are the songs. Mr. Roger’s always had some kind of musical element to them, and Daniel continues that. Every episode introduces the lesson in the form of an easy to remember song, usually only a line or so long, and they are catchy enough to remember if the situation warrants it. Lucas has just recently become obsessed with songs, so we’ve been hearing a lot of Daniel Tiger tunes.

For one glorious day, when he had to use the bathroom, Lucas would sing “If you have to go potty: stop. Go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way!” Unfortunately, the next day he realized that it was just too much fun to sing, so we get to hear it whether he has to go or not.

He’s also pretty fond of “It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again!”, although that might also just be from my own urging. I can’t help it, it’s super cute when my kid sings it, ok?

But Lucas’ all time favorite Daniel Tiger song so far has been, “When you feel so mad, and you wanna roar: take a deep breath and count to 4. 1, 2, 3, 4!” Whenever he’s feeling angry – which, at two years old, is most times – he will yell at me, “Dada, sing the song!”

This usually starts a back-and-forth, because he is perfectly capable of singing the song himself. I’ll usually cave after three or four instances of “No, Dada! Sing the song!”, but it’s incredibly entertaining to hear a toddler yelling throughout a convenience store at me, demanding that I sing.

I love that Lucas is getting hooked on these songs again, because they’re really helping him to understand and process his emotions. As a toddler with a new baby sister in the house, he’s experiencing a lot of them, so it’s wonderful that he’s able to clearly begin to identify what he’s feeling.

If you have a child, I’d absolutely encourage you to show them Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It’s one of the few shows that I don’t get sick of, and for us, the baby sister arc was very important and helpful when we were preparing Lucas for Sydney’s arrival. However, the show will be worth it no matter the family structure. Just make sure you and your kids watch it.

Let’s talk about Poop

We’ve had an… interesting time here at the Girardin household. If you’ve followed me on Twitter, you know where this is going.

Before I became a father, I never in my life thought that I’d ever care about someone else’s poop. Once we had Lucas, I came to learn that regular bowel movements are a perfect way to keep tabs on how he’s feeling, especially when he can’t tell us himself.

Then, he stopped.

Lucas has had constipation issues in the past, but some prune juice (and in some cases, Miralax) has always done the trick. This time however, was different. My wife mentioned it to me on Day 3.

“You know, he hasn’t pooped since Thursday.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’ll give him some extra Miralax.”

He wasn’t fine.

Lucas is fully potty trained – for peeing. Poop, however, is still a process that he does in a pull-up, and it’s tough to teach that stuff, ya know? Well, he had a particularly nasty diaper rash that week and, in an attempt to avoid any more pain, he decided he’d just stop pooping.

We called the pediatrician on day 6, and the receptionist shrugged us off.

We went to the pediatrician on day 10, and then got X-Rays done. He had a blockage up to his ribs. This was described as “moderate.” We did not consider it to be “moderate.” We were told up dramatically increase his Miralax, and wait it out. In this time, we also tried suppositories, which are not fun.

By day 13, we couldn’t wait it out anymore. So, as anyone would for their kid, I headed down to CVS, got the required materials, and returned home, where my wife and I were forced to give our toddler an enema.

It was about as bad as you’d think. He had some movement that night, but nothing substantial or definitively what we were waiting for. Then, on day 14, it happened. I got the text message at work: 14 poop emojis, and some pictures of him on the toilet, giving a thumbs up.

Lucas is on the road to recovery now, as there is some maintenance required to get him back to peak pooping condition, and we are all incredibly relieved. The next day, we went straight to the toy store and bought him literally whatever he wanted.

If my wife hadn’t happened to notice his lack of poop on Day 3, we honestly wouldn’t have known. Lucas didn’t complain about a stomach ache, he ate normally, and he didn’t even mention having to go poop until we started to ask about it. Even then, he just mentioned it to try and avoid cleaning up his toys.

This was a terrifying ordeal, but we are free and clear now, and we learned a valuable lesson.

Stay on top of your kid’s poop. And if you have to give them an enema, put some blink-182 on in the background, and find some irony in it.

One Month On

Sydney is a month old now, and in addition to being awake a heck of a lot more often than before, one other notable characteristic has been discovered.

This girl can eat, man.

If she’s awake, she’s searching for food. She’s got little rolls because she’s so chunky, and it’s amazing to me. She’s perfect, obviously, it’s just astounding to see a baby that enjoys food this much. Lucas never got the hang of that whole breastfeeding thing, and has since become such a grazer that Pediasure is now an integral part of his diet.

So having a child that’s finally received the gift of the Girardin appetite is so great to see, even though it is an understandably tough thing to get used to for my wife, who is the one that actually feeds her. But, as my wife always says, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the formula that we had to go through for our son, so it’s worth any inconvenience.

Other cool things about Sydney: she super duper digs it when we drive in the car, which is another thing that Lucas absolutely hated (and still isn’t a big fan of), she smiles at me pretty much all the time, and she has chosen cosleeping as her preferred way to go to bed.

We did cosleeping with Lucas, and it’s definitely something that we all love, because the kids just sleep way better. I’ve actually taken to going in to Lucas’ room if Sydney is having a rough night, because then Lucas sleeps an extra hour or two in the mornings.

We’re really digging the whole 4-person family dynamic, and the kids are responding incredibly well to each other. Lucas calms Sydney down when she’s fussing, and her naps are a great excuse to make sure he maintains an inside voice.

The #gteam is, overall, doing great.

“That Cat Game”

When you become a parent, it can be astounding at just how much your kid acts like you. It shouldn’t be surprising, they spend their entire lives in the presence of a giant human, so naturally, they will take on some of your characteristics.

What’s more surprising is when they finally catch on to your interests after a few years of trying.

It’s no secret that video games are a huge part of my life; I worked in the games press at 15, I have the Triforce tattooed on my arm, and I produce a weekly video series about the history of the Nintendo GameCube, game by game. We have a video game console in virtually every room of our house, and Lucas and Sydney are surrounded by it.

When we are having a down day at home and I’m playing a game, Lucas routinely tries to sit and watch me play, which lasts about five seconds before he tries to take the controller (or system) out of my hands. He has a deep appreciation of Pokemon, and he knows the difference between Mario and Luigi. So a few months back, I downloaded Super Mario 3D World for the Nintendo Wii U again. I had purchased it for my wife for Christmas when she was pregnant with Lucas and she played it so much that she spent four months collecting every item in the game’s 117 levels. It’s a friendly, fun platformer that allows Mario to turn into a cat, and I figured that when Lucas was ready, he’d be able to handle it pretty well. With the helpful tutorial flow that’s built into the game design, I knew that in a couple of years, he’d be primed to finish it himself.

Lucas, obviously, can’t wait that long, and has been asking to play it any chance he can get. He is still working on controlling both hands at the same time, but he is having a blast playing “That Cat Game.”

This morning, he rolled over and looked at me, and groggily mumbled, “Dada, me play That Cat Game now?”

With this being a title that my wife has completely dominated, he’s turned it into a fantastic activity to enjoy with both of us, and it gives my wife a break from Sydney-duties (this new kid eats a whole bunch).

Lucas shows great enthusiasm when it comes to my interests, and he’s finally at a point where it really feels like I’m sharing my hobbies with him, as opposed to just lecturing a baby about a topic.


After the dust settled and the excitement of Sydney’s arrival died down, the #gteam was finally just the #gteam, alone together. This past weekend the four of us were forced to look at each other long and hard and figure out what the heck to do with each other. So we did what any other semi-middle class suburban family would do when they don’t want to stay in their house for one more second.

We went to the bowling alley.


Lucas is old enough now to participate in wonderful family games, so he and I went one-on-one while my wife watched and held Sydney (who slept the entire time without making a peep). We used the bowling ramps, as making a toddler try and lift a bowling ball is cruel and bad, and I was amazed. First of all, the bowling ramps they have these days are super dope. When I was a kid, they were made of metal and looked like someone welded them in the parking lot before dragging them inside. Lucas got to use a plastic one shaped like a Dragon, and it was so cool. Second, after I would place the bowling ball at the top of the ramp, I told him to wait until he was ready to push it. Lucas would then stare down the lane, take a deep breath, close his eyes, and push the ball. It was a cute little ritual that came out of nowhere.

Homeboy lasted six frames, and even though I finished out the rest against myself, I still only managed to beat him by 20 points, because I am not good at sports. We hit the (sad) arcade afterwards and narrowly missed a meltdown with the claw machine; Lucas managed to catch himself a toy duck.

He then learned that we can’t take all of the ducks from the machine home because it’s expensive and other boys and girls need to take them home to other houses.

We had a blast, and it’s wonderful to be entering a new phase of family; we can actually participate in activities outside of the house without it always being the aquarium or the zoo, filled with things to look at but rarely interact with. Lucas got caught up in the lights, the music, and the sounds of the pins, and he picked up a few spares on his own.

He has asked me every day so far if we can go bowling again, so I would say that this was a success.

Back in Action

Sydney is doing great, we are home, and everybody is happy. She is a baby, so when she’s not sleeping, she’s eating, This is something that I am not equipped for so instead I have been getting a ton of bonding time in with Lucas, our oldest.

When we got back from the hospital after four days, it was like Lucas had aged six years. He was taller. He had a bigger vocabulary. He didn’t feel like the toddler that we left at midnight when my mom came to watch him, it was like my son from the future returned through a time-tunnel. Needless to say, we were worried about how he would handle all of the changes.


Lucas is an incredibly routine-oriented child, so much so that even his fevers were on a regular cycle. So having a new sibling, his Mama being distracted by this new sibling, a bunch of visitors in the house, and his Dad being home for an extra week should be pretty overwhelming.


Aside from the standard toddler meltdown after skipping a nap (which is happening a lot and we are trying), little man is taking this all like a champ. He is incredibly protective and affectionate with his baby sister, and if we even mention that she needs a diaper change, he comes running with a diaper and wipes for us. She was a constant in his life before she was born, as we made sure that he knew that she was inside his Mama’s belly and that he knew she would be born soon. Heck, we chose her name specifically based on how well he could pronounce it because we wanted him to be included as much as possible.

He plays her the guitar. He asks what she’s doing and how she’s doing every time he walks in the room. He sings her lullabies when she cries. He only knows Row, Row, Row Your Boat, but it’s cute every single time.


That all being said, there are moments when I can tell that he’s still a toddler that’s adjusting. He wants to be picked up more than before. We’ve backslid on the binky, moving from just naps and bedtime to whenever he wants because he needs the security. I’ve been going in and sleeping in his bed with him at night because he’s been waking up and asking for us more than before. The other night, he cuddled so close to me that he slept on my head for a good 20 minutes before I moved him.

But, overall, Lucas is doing better than we ever dreamed, and it just further proves how blessed Staci and I are with the kids that we got.