I have been working closely with some great people including my wonderful wife, Dr. Tresha, to create some more content around “When Good Fruit Goes Bad”, and it has resulted in 3 brand new videos that focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons based on the book. (with a few more to come)
Many of you are still in the midst of kids being all virtual, all-remote, or some combo of both, so if you are looking for fun content that can be discussion points for you and your kids, we hope these videos can be a good start.
For those of you who might not know (like me), SEL is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.
I also want to bring the message of “When Good Fruit Goes bad” to as many kids(and adults) as I can, so I am making myself available for FREE virtual readings thru Zoom/Google Classroom for your kids and their schools/pods/daycares. The book is geared towards elementary age children, grades K-5, and it has messages about eating healthy, creating less waste and knowing that you have worth and values in spite of your bumps, bruises and scars. There is no such thing as a “perfect’ apple. I am already lined up for a reading at my kids school in April, and I want to connect with schools everywhere I can!
I am available to do 30-minute group storytimes that can be customized based on the age of the students and can include:
– an interactive reading of the book
-Q&A about the book, characters, and themes
-fun fruit facts and trivia
-fruit jokes and riddles
-lessons on how to draw characters from book
The lessons of “When Good Fruit Goes Bad” can be used as a starting point for parents, guardians and educators alike to start discussions around wellness of both body and mind, speaking up for yourself, caring about the health of others, and much more.
If you think this could be a good fit for your kids and their school email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to help set up something up for the Spring or beyond.
In the last few weeks, I have had the honor of being on 2 great programs. OPEN BX with the Legendary “Dr” Bob Lee of WLBS and I followed that up with an appearance on PERSPECTIVES with the amazing Daren Jaime. I was able to talk about being a stay-at- home dad, writing, parenting and now being a published author.
You can see both appearances at the links below. Please support and like!
(originally published January 27, 2021 for City Dads Group)
I thought 2020 had run out of curveballs to toss by the holiday season. So around Thanksgiving our family decided to tackle a home renovation project: updating our basement.
While the bad lighting, 1970s carpet and tombstone gray wall panels had served us fine for our first three years in this house, we needed a change. A contractor friend helped us with the plans and, by mid-December, the renovations were going pretty well.
One evening after the workers had left, I started making one of my favorite dinners for the family: smash burgers! Cooking them tends create a smoky house so, as that predictably happened, I turned on the hallway fan to pull some of the smoke out of the house. But as dinner preparations wrapped up, an alarm went off. Not the smoke alarm as expected, but the carbon monoxide alarm. That can also happen with smoky cooking; however, after several minutes of opening doors and windows, the CO alarm continued ringing.
My wife and I decided to call the gas company, moving dinner with the kids to out in the car until they arrived. About 10 minutes later, as we gobbled our burgers and air fryer potato wedges in our minivan, a gas rep showed up. He examined our 25-year-old boiler which we had hoped had one more winter in it, and measured the levels of CO it emitted. He then asked me what level of CO was considered safe. I told him zero. He agreed, noting that up to five parts per million (ppm) is acceptable but it still should be at zero.
Our boiler was emitting 4,000 ppm. Had the CO alarm not gone off, my family and I would not have seen the next morning.
After some failed attempts at repairs the next day, the boiler was replaced, an expense we did not foresee having to deal with.
A damp vantage point
A few days after the boiler incident, Christmas Eve came to our New Jersey town along with some of the strongest winds I have ever heard. The house felt like it was going to be pulled right off of its foundation. After a harrowing night of weather, the house was intact; Santa still managed to deliver, but from my point of view our backyard fence looked like an elephant had sat on it.
After a call to our insurance company, some backyard cleaning and the opening of presents, my wife decided to take care on the seemingly never-ending laundry. Near the end of the wash cycle, she headed to the garage for something and she was greeted with half an inch of water creeping across the floor. One of the pipes from the washer had dislodged. Instead of water exiting through the plumbing, it spilled out directly on to the floor and into the garage.
All this while we were still trying to finish packing for a ski trip to New Hampshire that required us leaving our seemingly cursed home for almost a week.
But were we cursed? Was it bad mojo? Would our travels end with a broken leg or a flat tire?
But, that “woe is me” attitude only lasted a few minutes. Our point of view changed because our minds quickly began to contemplate all the outcomes of these scenarios that could have been.
Perspective is everything
The boiler broke and was emitting CO, but our multiple alarms SAVED OUR LIVES. Literally. We have seen it happen on the news time and time again when people don’t have alarms at all, or never change the batteries. The inconvenience of the broken boiler for a few days pales to the tragedy that could have happened.
Our fence fell down, but our home was still standing. We have insurance to help with the cost of repair. How many times have we seen tornados or fires lay waste to entire towns with families only escaping with their lives while an entire lifetime of memories are gone in a flash?
What is a minor garage flood compared to seeing entire homes underwater when riverbanks overflow in hurricanes, forcing people to their rooftops in hope of rescue from the rising water.
Now, it is OK to be upset by your circumstances. You can be angry. You can feel like your world is caving in. You’re allowed to think the elements are out to get you. Not bottling them those feelings is important because not facing those emotions can often make matters worse.
I always try to put things in perspective when it comes to my life and remember how blessed I truly am. As bad as things seem to be at any given time, sometimes the alternative could be worse. If you use the power of perspective to examine where you are in life, where you want to be and where you could be, it will greatly shape how you approach what life throws your way. And, hopefully, it will shed light on a positive way to deal with it.
Life will constantly throw curveballs your way and you won’t hit a home run every time. It’s going to be a lot of base hits and a lot strikeouts. A. LOT. But if you learn from those experience and grow, your chances of hitting it out of the park your next time at the plate might be that much easier.
I want to let you know “When Good Fruit Goes Bad” is carried in a number of places in addition to Amazon and the links have been added to the Fruit Book tab including Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound with hopefully more to come!
Thank you for the continued support on this project. Stay safe and stay healthy!
Thank you so much for your interest in WHEN GOOD FRUIT GOES BAD, a children’s book that we hope is not only fun to read, but also teaches kids and adults alike about valuing yourself no matter how many bruises and bumps you may have, knowing that you have a purpose and sometimes all you need to do is find it!
Our hope is that after reading this book to your students, with your kids, or even on your own, that you can continue learning more about how to be comfortable in your own skin, stay healthy and teach others how to do the same!
That is why we created this free 21-page Educational Learning Packet (ELP) as our way of saying thank you for supporting the book. The ELP is a combination of fun facts and activities, covering math, grammar, vocabulary, science and more! With the help of friends, family and educators, we created this learning packet and combined them with worksheets from a great online learning resource , www.education.com as way to keep the conversations about the book going long after you are done reading.
Wow so much has changed since I posted back in January and the world is a very different place, but in the midst of this craziness and I happy to say my family has stayed safe and we remain well. I hope you and your loved ones are doing well too.
But in some very good and unexpected new, I have a brand new 36 page fully-illustrated children’s book available online titled WHEN GOOD FRUIT GO BAD. It is a collaboration between me and my cousin Steve and has been many years in the making!
We are very proud of what we have been able to put together during this time, and we hope that the messages of the book around eating healthy, creating less waste, and knowing you have worth really resonates with the world.
Check out the details on the top of the page under the KIDS BOOK tab for more details.
2020 has been a heck of a ride, but I look forward to what the future holds.
(this post originally ran on the City Dad Group website on November 20, 2019)
A few weeks ago, my eldest child did something that made me quite upset. But to be honest, looking back on it now, I cannot even remember exactly what it was.
As parents, we have to discipline our kids on a regular basis to varying degrees so keeping track of every occurrence could take up this whole article. But I do know he did something that made me mad enough to stop doing the dishes, call him into the kitchen and angrily reprimand him.
I didn’t even see the incident. I just overheard him “arguing” with my wife in the other room, essentially defending something wrong he had done. Hearing him talk back rather than own up to what he did when he was clearly in the wrong just really got to me in that moment. Once I spoke with him for a few minutes and I felt he understood why I was so upset, I sent him to his room for a time out. Looking back, I am not I am not proud of how I behaved, but we will come back to that later.
I often give Justin, my eldest, a bit of a hard time when he does something wrong mainly because he is a smart kid and I know he knows better. He does well in school, has lots for friends and his teachers have nothing but great things to say about him. He is also the oldest. His 4-year-old twin siblings see him as a role model, copying his every word and action, right down to the way they eat their food and brushing their teeth. But like most first graders, Justin can be impulsive. He doesn’t always take the time to think about the domino effect of his actions. But that’s part of our job as parents, right? To steer them in the correct direction and drop pearls of wisdom they will hopefully pick up and bring out again in those moments when we are not around to guide them.
After I finished the dishes that night, I felt a sense of dread and sadness as I replayed my interaction with Justin in my head. I had no doubt he had done something wrong and that discipline was warranted. But, more importantly, I realized I was in the wrong, too. I had overreacted. I had raised my voice, pointing and shaking my index finger at him. This must have been very intimidating, standing over him while he had to absorb my anger.
An apology for the ages
I had every right to discipline him, but I could have done so in a more loving and gentle way. I could have gotten my point across without raising my voice or making him feel small. I thought about the times my parents would have loud arguments in front of me about a variety of issues, but would always to apologize to me for their actions because they knew this is not the type of thing they wanted their son to see. More importantly, this was not the type of behavior they wanted me to engage in if I should every marry and have my own children. So I knew from early on the power of the apology.
After a few minutes, I called Justin back into the kitchen. I got down on one knee so we could be eye-to-eye. He wasn’t crying, but I could see he was still upset.
“I’m sorry. I overreacted,” I said to him. “I know you are a good kid and I just want you to make smart choices. I should not have yelled at you like I did and I’m sorry.”
I wasn’t expecting a response.
But Justin looked at me, patted me on the shoulder, smiled and said, “It’s OK, Daddy.” Then he went about his day as happy as ever.
My heart melted because he could have stayed mad. Instead, he accepted my apology in a mature way and moved on with ease to his next adventure.
What I didn’t know was that my wife was in the hallway. She overheard the original incident and she heard my apology. She came into the kitchen and said, “Thank you for doing that.”
I say all this because it seems that we, as a society, have become increasingly enamored with doubling down when we are faced with facts or confronted with the truth. Rather than admit being wrong, learning from it and moving on, we dig our heels into our position and fight no matter how many facts eat away at our argument.
And my son being wrong in one moment does not give me the right to be wrong in another with how I discipline him and give into my emotions.
As parents we have to teach our children right from wrong on a daily basis. That starts with not only knowing when we are in the wrong, but also being willing to admit it without shame. We may view ourselves as the final word in our respective households, but we are flawed and are far from perfect. We make mistakes. We must remember that we are the role models our kids, and sometimes even other parents, will look to. As the saying goes, if we don’t learn from our mistakes we are destined to repeat them.
Apologizing when you are wrong doesn’t make you weak or soft. It makes you human. We should not offer an apology because we want forgiveness. We should apologize because it is right, no matter who or how old the person we did wrong is. The minute we recognize that as society, we will start moving towards a more understanding and a more honest way of living and growing together, flaws and all.
Now, before you say I am writing this to get in good favor with her, keep in mind she is barely on social media and it is unlikely she will even see this post at all (so there)!
But she is pretty awesome.
She is great mother, a wonderful doctor, loving wife and a great
friend. When you are married, life can
be a blur. When you have 3 kids, life can be whatever is faster than a
blur. A superblur? Uberblur?
Ultrablur? Well you get my
drift. But I think for most of us, married
or unmarried, life is really just series of moments and memories, some which
make us smile with delight and others that bring a look of disgust to our face
the minute it pops up in our brain or when we are experiencing it.
My wife started a new job recently, and her hours are much much MUCH better, so she is home a reasonable time for dinner, and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to be on time when you can come home to this…
(the crab legs are not made by me, but the facial expression is all me)
Better hours means she is a lot less tired in the evenings, so she can happily take over story time on occasion while I handle some other urgent task in the house like laundry, the dishes or a quick round of Super Smash Bros on my Nintendo Switch. Again, she rarely sees my articles so this our little secret….
Story time is one of my favorite parts of the day 2
One: I can do a variety of silly voices depending on the books my kids have selected (Paw Patrol or Disney are always a blast) and if you know me at all or follow me on Instagram, silly is my middle name (not legally, just for this article’s sake)
Two: Story time means the daddy day care is coming to a close and I can get 2-3 hours of kid-free bliss (I love them to pieces, but we all need some downtime right?)
Recently at story time, my wife took the reins, and as I loaded the washer in the kitchen, I could hear her and the kids down the hallway in their bedroom chatting away about what stories they wanted to read. I immediately heard them select one of their favorites called Lets Share! As you can imagine, it is a book that teaches the importance of sharing with a few ups and downs along the way. I love this book because I have a certain way of reading it, complete with very specific voices for each character, reactions, and flawless comedic timing that the kids love and that they anticipate every. Single. Time. I. Read. It. They fall over laughing every time with their legs in the air like the characters on Peppa Pig, so I love when they pick it.
But when they choose it for mommy, I immediately stopped loading dishwasher so I could eavesdrop. How would she handle the voices, the emotions, and the perfect comedic timing that makes Let’s Share the amazing tale it is because of my outstanding interpretation of it? I sat quietly in the kitchen, waiting to be disappointed with her valiant attempt at reading this masterpiece, and readied myself subpar rendition.
Then something shocking happened. SHE NAILED THE READING.
It’s not that she did a brand new version. She did MY version. The voices, the reading style, the comedic timing and everything! I was shocked because she is not a silly person by nature, so hearing her read it like me was a bit, well, shocking. Additionally, very rarely do we both handle story time together, so her reading it in this way meant something much more important to me in that moment.
It meant she was listening almost every time I read it. Not passive listening, but active listening, like she was taking notes on how the kids wanted this particular story to be read to them because she noticed how much they loved hearing me read it to them.
Maybe it was the raucous laughter that made her perk up one night, so she listened extra carefully to see what all the hubbub was about.
Maybe the kids just told her how to read it.
Whatever the reason, I was so proud of her in that moment because it meant that even in those moments where she was barely able to stand up because she was so tired from work, she still observed what was going on with me and the kids, even if she didn’t have to. It meant she was being a rockstar mom and wife when she could have just as easily been sleeping. I am proud of her almost all the time, except that time she came home and told me that she had told her co-workers I was rooting for the Pats in most recent Super Bowl.
I mean, do you even know me woman?
But, is spite of that slip up, her reading of “Let’s Share” just
added more fuel to the fire for reasons I love her in the first place.
I say all this because moments are really all we have during our limited time on this earth. That moment hearing her flawless rendition of Let’s Share will stay in my heart and mind forever. I hope I can create a lot more moments and memories with my family in years to come so, even if my kids might not be able to give me a play-by-play of their days at school, moments like story time will stick with them forever.
So, go out and create as many moments you can, while you can and make a wonderful memory you won’t forget. Within reason on course…
Blogging is a funny thing… or not funny at all depending on
the subject matter of the blog post.
Some people do it every day to express themselves to the world in way that can’t always be achieved through a face-to-face conversations, especially since a large portion of conversations are done via text and email these days.
Others blog when inspired by something that has happened in the world and they want folks to really know where they stand on a subject and, in some cases. bloggers really like to engage internet trolls. To each is own.
When I opened up my computer this past weekend while
watching the NFC Championship Games (both games were amazing, sad and controversial
is a number of ways), I was not sure what wanted to write about, but I knew I
wanted to write about something.
Do I comment on the Gillette ad that seems to have half the world ready to switch to Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s and the other half of the world grateful that a billion dollar company has decided to weigh in on the subject of “toxic masculinity”? ( I actually left Gillette long before this ad because they are just way too expensive and let’s be honest, how advanced can razor tech get? Are they in a board meeting weekly saying “Hmmm. We have 5 blades, what about making it 6? Nah. Too advanced, meeting over”)
Do I go political and talk about Trump, the wall, Democrats, Republicans, blah blah blah? Meh. It’s been done and is being done 24 hours a day. I truly miss the days of past administrations and not really knowing on a daily basis every. single. thing that the commander-in-chief is thinking. Wake me when the Mueller Report is done. Also, there are too many Breaking News stories to keep up with in this administration to even stay up to date by the time I post.
Do I talk about all the highlights of 2019 (new house, Weber
grill, wonderful wife and kids, Nintendo Switch, etc)? That’s what Facebook is for!
So what’s left?
I do like to eat. I like to cook too and I do a majority of it for the family since I am home full-time with the kids and my superhero wife works full-time bringing home the bacon (which I will then proceed to cook for breakfast or an amazing BLT). So, this post will simply end with a bunch of pictures of various meals I have recently prepared (which can also be found on my @coolminivandad Instagram page). Maybe I will start talking up food a bit more and get a sweet endorsement deal with Ronzoni (my kids are HUUUGE fans of the Super Greens Thin Spaghetti) or Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade (amazing on ribs) or get a free Pastrami and Corned Beef from Sarge’s Deli.
Regardless, I hope you will stop by on occasion to hear what I have say or what I happen to be cooking for my family. I will try to say things and cook more often if that helps.