Meet Sutton’s Dolls

Sutton likes to  name her dolls.  Here are a few of her favorites:

“Sutton”

“Sutton”

“Sutton”

“Sutton”

“Bennett” (because he’s a boy)

“Sutton”

… and the new one.

This time, she let me in on the naming process.

“Daddy, what’s her name?”

“You can name her whatever you want.”

“Daddy, please can you name her?”

“OK.  I think she looks like an Angelica.”

“No.”

“No?  You don’t like that name?”

“No.”

“OK.  How about Sylvia?”

“No.”

“Joann?”

“No.”

“Maxine?”

“No.”

“I’ve got it, Honey.  Why don’t we name her Sutton?”

“Daddy, no!!!”

“What?  Why not?”

I’m Sutton!”

Ahead of Her Time

“Daddy, I’m done with time out!”

“No.  Time out isn’t over until the timer beeps.”

“Beep!  (brief pause) Daddy, it beeped!”

“No it didn’t.  That was you.”

“Beep!”

“Sutton, I can tell the difference between the timer beeping and you saying ‘beep’.”

“Beep… beep… beep!”

(I leave the room to laugh.  Two minutes later, an actual beep sounds…)

“Honey, why did I put you in a time out?”

“Because I ran away when you told me to come inside.”

“Yes, but–”

“But you love me and you forgive me, just don’t do it again!”

“You left out the part where I tell you to say you’re sorry.”

“I’m sorry!”

“OK, go play.”

Note: She’s not quite 2 1/2 years old yet.

Travel Tips for Families With Two Kids Or Less (Or More)

Nothing brings out the best in strangers like witnessing men try to take care of children.  They tend to think you need help – and even more, that you deserve it.  Like a dude with a baby is automatically in over his head and crying out for a lifeline.  You can take it as an insult, or, if you’re me, you can take the help, because hey, it’s free help, right?

Never does this mentality come in handy more than when you’re traveling.  If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire airport terminal to get that child to Grandma’s for the holidays.  Soak it up, fellow gay dads, because this is where the new BFFs come out of the woodwork to assist you.  Not that you need them, of course.

Drew and I have made the LA to New York journey with the kids four times now.  That may not qualify me as an expert, but we haven’t lost a kid yet, so I’d say I’m good enough.

With the holidays coming up, I thought I’d share a few of my secrets.

Make a packing list.  It’s easier than it sounds.  Just write down everything you use in a 24-hour period.  Burp cloths, bibs, formula, your “Daddy’s not messin’ around” voice.  Figure out how many of each you’ll need during your flight and how many you’ll use for the rest of the trip.  Use this as your checklist before you leave – and again before you return home.  Next time you travel, it gets easier, because you can use your previous list as a jumping off point.  As your kids get older, you’ll need less stuff with every vacation.  And if this sounds too anal for you, hold on, because it’s about to get way more anal.

Ship, borrow and sacrifice.  Getting your kids through an airport is tough enough.  Don’t take the entire haul from your baby shower with you.  Ship diapers and food to your destination.  Borrow a pack-n-play from a relative or neighbor wherever you’re headed.  Do without the bottle warmers while you’re gone.  Do everything possible to minimize your haul.

Number your key items.  A key item is anything that’s not attached to your body that needs to arrive safely at your destination.  Why do you need to number them?  Because you’d be surprised how fast they add up.  Here’s our key item list from our first trip with the kids:

Carry-on items:

1. Bennett

2. Sutton

3. Bennett’s car seat

4. Sutton’s car seat

5. Drew’s carry-on bag

6. My carry-on bag

7. Diaper bag

Gate checked item:

8. Snap-n-go stroller

Checked items:

9. Drew’s checked bag

10. My checked bag

11. Babies’ checked bag

12. Bennett’s car seat base

13. Sutton’s car seat base

Start with the items you’ll be carrying on the plane, then gate checked items, then checked items.  Any time you make a transition, do a count off to make sure you have everything you should.

From the condo to the car and the car to the airport, we counted up to 13.

From the check-in desk through security, to the waiting area, to the gate, we counted up to 8.

Once on the plane, we counted up to 7.

Keep a list of what the numbers correspond to in case you can’t locate something.  And if you lose track of #1 or #2, it’s time to get on the airport intercom.

Pack food you can serve easily.  You know how hard it is to do something as simple as crossing your legs in a cramped airplane seat?  Well, don’t even think about slicing up strawberries and swirling them into little Joey’s oatmeal.  Keep things as simple as possible.  Chewy cereal bars.  Snacks in no-spill cups.  Those wonderful little squeezey pouch fruit purees.

And splurge on the pre-made formula in cans.  It’s much easier than mixing your own from the powder.  Don’t worry.  The TSA won’t make you taste it.  Just tell them you’re carrying it, and they’ll run it through the X-ray machine.

Get a greeter if you can.  Did you know that, for a couple hundred dollars, you can hire someone to meet you at the airport and help you all the way from the curb until you get on the plane?  These wonderful human beings will deal with skycaps, whisk you to the front of the security line, gain you access to the first-class lounge and come get you when it’s time to board.  They’ll push your bags on a luggage cart, help you gate-check your stroller and even sweet talk the gate agents into letting you pre-board.  Yes, traveling with your kids is already costing you a fortune, but why not make this your Christmas present to yourself?  I assure you, it’s worth it.

Let the kid watch TV.  Your day-to-day job as a parent is to raise a healthy, well-adjusted, intellectually curious child.  For many of us, that means keeping SpongeBob to a minimum.  But when you’re on a plane, your job is to get to your destination without you or the kid melting down.  So go ahead and rot their brain if it helps.

For space reasons, try to avoid bringing a laptop or portable DVD player.  Instead, load your iPhone with Yo Gabba Gabbas and bring your power cord so you can keep it charged.

And finally, the most important rule of all…

Don’t feel guilty if your kid cries.  There’s a crying baby on every plane.  There’s also a jerk who glares at the kid’s parents or sighs audibly to register their annoyance.  Admit it: You’ve been the jerk plenty of times.  Now you get to be the parent.  It’s the circle of life.

But look around.  While your baby is crying, you’re also getting lots of supportive looks from parents like you who’ve been there.  And from this point on, that’s who you’ll be.  When you’re getting off the plane, strangers will approach you to tell you how good your baby was (even if he wasn’t), because that’s what parents do for each other.

It’s really a beautiful thing – sniff, sniff.

Have any secret tips of your own?  Help a Daddy out, and leave me a comment!

You Gotta Have Heart Shirt

We were looking through old pictures, and when Sutton saw this one, she squealed, “Heart shirt!”

Two words that quickly changed our lives.

The last time she’d worn that shirt was months earlier, and it wasn’t a big deal.  Now, finding that shirt and putting it on was the most important thing in the world.

It barely fit her anymore, but she loved it.  She wore it all day and went back to the mirror over and over to admire it – or to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, and it was still there.  The next day, the first words out of her mouth were “Heart shirt!”  She wanted to wear it again.

Three weeks later, she was still wearing the damn heart shirt.  Drew washed it every night, because Sutton wouldn’t consider wearing anything else – and oh, we tried.

Finally, two days ago, I was tired of seeing it, and I was tired of seeing her diaper underneath it every time she raised her arms, because the heart shirt didn’t quite cover her back.

“Guys, let’s do something fun today,” I told them.  “Let’s go clothes shopping!”

They fell for it.

I told Sutton she could pick out any shirt she wanted, as long as it was long-sleeve and they had it in her size. I figured she might wear something else if she felt some ownership of it.  It was worth a shot.

She picked out five new shirts. Four of them were pink and the other one had a heart on it.  Actually, I picked the heart one out for her myself.  It was light blue, and she had no interest in it.  “That’s for Bennett!” she insisted.

Maybe it wasn’t the heart she was into after all.

She couldn’t wait to show Daddy her new clothes when he got home at night.  The next day, she didn’t even mention the heart shirt.  She wanted the “flower shirt”.  This one:

As soon as I had it on her, she asked if she could wear it during her nap, too.  She was already afraid I’d take the flower shirt away from her.

This morning, she asked for it again.

“What about all the other shirts we bought yesterday?  Let’s try one of those.”

“No!  I want my flower shirt!”

So here we go.  Day 2 of the flower shirt.  And counting.

Maybe I will put the blue heart shirt on Bennett.  At least we’ll get some use out of it.

Gaydar

We’ve come to realize that, by naming our daughter Sutton, we’ve inadvertently given her perhaps the most fool-proof gaydar yet invented.  When we tell people her name, we get one of two instant reactions.

1. “What?  Sullivan?  Susan?  Saffron?”  Basically, they’re saying, “I must’ve misheard you, because what you said didn’t sound like a name.  Here’s a list of actual girl’s names I’ve heard of, so please pick one of these.”

The other version of this is when people realize we’ve said something that they’re unfamiliar with, so they spit out a string of cockamamie non-names hoping to come close.  “Pardon?  Suffman?  Farfon?  Suzzington?”  They’re thinking, “Geez, the stuff people come up with these days.  Who knows what the hell this poor girl’s name might be?”

In either case, we can then conclude that the person we are talking to is STRAIGHT.

Now play along and see if you can determine the sexuality of the person who gives reaction #2.

2. “Oh, like Sutton Foster!”

Yes, this gentleman is GAY.

For the record, no, we didn’t name our daughter after Ms. Foster exactly, but yes, being gay, we were well aware of her work.

I hope this saves our Sutton much frustration in her future dating life.  Lots of girls want to marry a guy just like Dad.  Well, hopefully, not ours.  Marry a straight guy, sweetheart.  Please, please, please.

Unless you’d rather marry a woman, which is great, too, but unfortunately, your name won’t be much help in sorting those out.