21st Century Dad
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Smoking and Parenting Don’t Mix

May 22nd, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

“Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” – Brooke Shields (1982)

My Own Battle With Smoking

smoking a cigarette

Photo: Porcelaingirl

A few bloggers I read regularly have talked about their struggle with smoking. It’s a habit I’ve struggled with for most of my life, but I think this time, I’ve quit for good. I knew that when my daughter was born, I had to quit smoking.

When I was single and perusing the dating sites, it really limited my choices. Very few non-smokers would tolerate a smoker. It is often a deal-breaker. The limited pool from which I could choose from also translated into limited success. My self-esteem took a double hit. This nasty habit left me dateless on many nights. When I quit (for whatever length of time it was), I had more dates.

Renee has been wonderful to me since day one. I was on the slippery slope of smoking relapse when I met her, and was back on the puff-wagon within a couple months after we started dating. I refrained from smoking when we were together, but there were times when I indulged. Then we started spending even more time together. It wasn’t actively discouraged, so I continued to smoke.

The Effects of Smoking

Other media channels have done a better job of describing the basics. Here are some of my observations:

  • You’re lighting something on fire and breathing in the fumes
  • One guy told me that he smoked 3 packs a day for over 40 years. That’s almost 1 million cigarettes!
  • A pack-a-day habit is a $150 hole in your budget. A fellow dad blogger tells me that he and his wife both smoke a pack a day. That’s a car payment.

“Please Don’t Smoke, Daddy.”

Please Don\'t Smoke, Daddy.I always knew I had to quit. Then Twilli was born. I REALLY had to quit. She won’t have conscious memories from this time, but neural pathways are being forged. I didn’t want to imprint the cigarette smell along with things like warm, safe, daddy, love, hugs, and snuggle time.

I grew increasingly self-conscious of my habit. I washed a lot of dishes by hand to further scrub the smell from my hands. After a cigarette, I would wash some dishes, brush my teeth, and sometimes change my shirt. A crying baby with a dirty diaper isn’t going to wait for daddy to go through that whole routine.

Slaying the Smoke Monster

A few months ago, I was taken down with a nasty flu. I could barely breathe. How could I smoke through that? I spent 4 days in bed. I didn’t want to smoke. After the 3 day hump, I didn’t want another cigarette. I also lost 10 pounds, which I’m happy to report remain lost. I’ve lost another 10 pounds since. Maybe it’s all that bike riding I’ve been doing lately.

I quit smoking, but I wasn’t ready to quit nicotine. I tried a product called Ariva. It’s a pressed tablet of tobacco that dissolves in your mouth. It’s actual tobacco rather than pharmaceutical nicotine. That’s what was missing from the gum, the lozenges, the patch, and other nicotine replacement therapies. Ariva is also the same price as a pack of cigarettes while the replacement therapies cost more. I used joesgoals.com to track my progress of weaning myself off the tablets.

The Effects of Smoking on Babies and Children

“Crack babies” and “heroin babies” get all the coverage in the media. What about the Marlboro Baby?

One of the select bits of conventional wisdom I subscribe to is for pregnant women to abstain from smoking. It really does have the deleterious effects claimed by the most fervent doomsayers.

Our friend Steve is a smoker who is trying to quit. His wife said that it was going to be even more difficult for him than most. Steve’s mother smoked during pregnancy, so Steve has been addicted to nicotine since before birth! I had not considered that as one of the negative effects of smoking during pregnancy.

“Crack babies” and “heroin babies” get all the coverage in the media. What about the Marlboro Baby?

Before this revelation, I thought that children of smokers became smokers simply due to modeling of behaviors. Smoking during pregnancy imprints this nicotine dependency upon a malleable brain. I know my mother had smoked during at least one pregnancy. Both of my sisters smoke. The last time I visited my mother, I was standing out on the porch with my mother and my sisters. We all had cigarettes in one hand and beers in the other. My sister quipped, “This is an activity the whole family can enjoy!”

Kicking the Habit

If you’re a smoker, you can quit. I will be your cheerleader, not a self-righteous finger pointer. I support you in your decision. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. I’ve tried several methods including cold turkey, weaning, smokeless tobacco, Zyban™, the gum, the patch, and the lozenges. The key for me is persistence. If I fall off the horse, I’m getting back on right away.

The one thing that helps me the most is a focus on all the positives. I think about the money I save, the health benefits, the self-esteem boost, the sense of accomplishment, and a host of other things. My focus is on what I achieved or gained rather than what I’m avoiding, running away from, or lost. BTW, this works on other areas of your life too.

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Crunchy on The Inside – Carnivore’s Edition

May 19th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

What my family eats is on my radar. I’m fighting years of sloppy code, poorly written nutrition updates and buggy performance in general. In my attempts to live a healthier lifestyle, I still get the blue screen of high fructose corn syrup all the time. Au-Teen gives me a Fatal Exception Error when it comes to drinking more water and easing off the sugar beverages

Making The Shift To Vegetarianism

Fresh Vegetables

Growing up in the United States means you were told that meat is an essential source of protein and other nutrients. The livestock industry is subsidized by our government. Vegetarians are seen as weirdos. It’s all about the beef here in the land that brought you the golden arches and hardened arteries.

Eating meat has become less appealing. I still enjoy the taste and texture of many meats, but it takes a toll on my conscience. Stories about factory-farm raised chickens and the treatment at cattle feedlots are almost enough to make me want to swear off meat. I’ve already stopped eating veal. These calves are kept in the worst conditions and slaughtered within days of being born.

Being a better steward of our Earth and vegetarianism go hand-in-hand. There are environmental reasons for going vegetarian. Did you know that:

  • Eating a vegan diet reduces more carbon emissions than replacing your conventional car with a hybrid.
  • Approximately 55 square feet of forest is destroyed for each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land.
  • One pound of beef requires an input of approximately 2500 gallons of water.
  • One pound of soy requires 250 gallons.
  • One pound of wheat requires only 25 gallons.
  • With the water used to produce a single hamburger, you could take a luxurious shower every day for two and a half weeks.

Activism isn’t going to turn us all vegetarian overnight. However, we can all do a little to reduce the demand for meat. A decrease in demand will not go unnoticed by the livestock and poultry industries. Fish farms do their share of damage to mother Earth too. There’s wild-caught fish, but are we fishing faster than the supply replenishes? One has to wonder.

Quitting Cold Turkey Cold Turkey

I’m not prepared to go full-time vegetarian, despite the benefits. Special dietary needs and travel don’t mix well. It really puts a damper on “souvenir dining.” I still know people in Philadelphia. There’s nothing quite like a steak from Rick’s in Reading Terminal. Mmm mmm. And what about sushi? Butter makes everything taste better. 🙂 As of today, going 100% vegan is out of the question. There’s a little thing called feta cheese that’s near and dear to me.

I continue to unsubscribe from long-held beliefs on my personal development journey. Everything is on the table. What I decide to eat is also under the scrutiny of this audit and subject to change. I truly believe there is a better way.

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Weekend Roundup

February 10th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Investment Tip – Buy Stock in The Company That Makes Febreze

My Take on the Dave Hill LookLast Wednesday was the Au-Teen’s birthday, so we hosted a massive all-weekend hangout and sleep-over, complete with junk food, soda, and video games. At one point, there were 5 teenage boys in the house.

The living room smells like a hockey skate.

Not just any hockey skate, but a Game 7 quadruple overtime in the Stanley Cup Finals kind of skate. If you have teenage boys, a Costco or Sam’s Club membership can be justified even if Febreze is the only thing you ever buy there.

I might even get one of those large pesticide sprayers and fill it up with Febreze. A wimpy little pump spray bottle is woefully inadequate.

Despite my beliefs about food and nutrition, I’m letting the boys have their fill of pizza, nachos, Doritos, ice cream, and soda. It’s my hope that I’m reinforcing the “special occasion” nature of the soda and these other enemies of good health. Soda is not an everyday beverage and it doesn’t do anything to quench thirst. We are a nation of dehydrated sugar addicts. You need 6-8 glasses of water every day.

I know that one of Au-Teen’s friends actually reads my blog. So if you’re reading this, listen up! Soda is not a thirst quencher. It does not count toward the 6-8 glasses of water you need every day. Yes, you need 6-8 glasses of water every day. Each caffeinated soda you have counts against the total. So for every glass of soda you have, you need to make up for it with an additional glass of water. Did you know that your body often mistakes thirst for hunger? When you think you’re hungry, you might actually be thirsty. Burn this information into your brain and drink up!

Blog Housekeeping

If you’ve been paying attention, the header image changes randomly. I’ll be able to tell if you have finally realized that. My pageviews will suddenly go through the roof and my Google AdSense click-thru-rate will plummet. Gee, thanks a lot guys!

I haven’t figured out how to add more to the rotation, so I swapped one out. That’s a PHP thing. Yes, I may be be Asian but some things about computers confound me. It was a feature built-in to this WordPress theme. I didn’t code it. The only thing I did was use some of my Photoshop Ninja skills to customize the look of it.

Some of the more astute readers will also notice the Entre Card widget in the sidebar. If you’re a fellow blogger, it’s definitely worth checking out. Whether you are a blogger or not, the widget serves up advertisements for other blogs. While fellow Entre Card users solicit me for ad space, I have the final say. I’ve lined up some great blogs for the ad space there. The ad changes daily, so keep coming back if you don’t want to miss out on some awesome blogs. Moms, fellow dads, environmentalists, personal finance, and general parenting sites are all in the lineup.

I also spent some time sorting out the categories a little better. There are now some sub-categories. This helps break up the long unordered list into visually manageable chunks.

Then there are the largely invisible things like correcting typos and adding appropriate hyperlinks within posts.

How’s The Baby?


This is the number one question I get asked. I don’t mind answering it. Little Twilli has been doing great. A wise man once said, “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” I don’t have to buy bewilderment. I get it for free every day.

Twilli continues to amaze me. On Friday night, I had her sitting on my lap while I was looking at my Facebook profile. She clearly recognized my photo on the computer screen and didn’t fight hard to contain her excitement.

We’re both in this adventure together, and I think she has emerged as the leader here. I’m learning all about infant potty training of all things!

The photo you see here is a Strobist experiment gone awry. I was trying to trigger the remote flash with my point’n’shoot, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1. The remote didn’t fire, only the winky little pop-up did. It’s a great pocket camera for DSLR users. It has full manual control, a useful zoom range (it goes a little wider than most pocket cameras), and the native 16:9 format of the sensor gives your creativity a nice boost.

Storing the Mylicon Dropper – a 21st Century Dad Hack

February 8th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Infant’s Mylicon Gas Relief

Sometimes you baby really is smiling. Sometimes she just has gas. For that,we have Mylicon drops.After using the last of the Mylicon, I realized that the empty bottle would be a great way to store the dropper and keep it clean.If you found this tip helpful, please consider making a donation.

My Junk Food Dilemma

January 31st, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Randy’s Donuts

Nutrition is on every parent’s radar. Some are better at it than others. I’ve learned over the years what makes for healthy eating habits, so imagine how appalled I was at Austin’s eating habits, which are, for lack of a better term, &*@#$! horrendous. Unfortunately, this knowledge doesn’t seem to do me much good since I encounter steadfast opposition to my efforts to reform this family’s eating habits.

When I met Renee, her eating habits weren’t the best. They weren’t the worst either. To her credit, she eats her food deliberately, takes her time to chew it thoroughly, and doesn’t overindulge with huge portions. She is usually willing to try my creations, as long as it doesn’t have shrimp. Single mothers have it tough, and one of the things that slipped through the cracks was nutrition. As a result, Austin didn’t develop sound eating habits.

The last thing any parent wants to see is their children suffer. It’s especially maddening when it’s the child’s own poor nutrition habits that cause this suffering. Then your efforts to help are met with resistance.

  • He usually struggles with the first class in the morning and the one right before lunch.
  • He has trouble concentrating and focusing.
  • He has trouble waking up in the morning.
  • His stomach is easily upset.

All of the above can be mitigated or even eliminated by making smarter food choices. But like most teenage boys, making his choices is far more important to him than making smart choices.

I was at the classic car show last week when it hit me. I’m the kind of guy who only cares about basic maintenance of a reliable automobile. This is in stark contrast to the level of care these car aficionados put into their vehicles. A car is a necessity, at least in the suburbs. Food is a necessity. I happen to care more about the food I eat. I love variety and I love knowing that what I eat is good for me. Austin only cares about getting from point A to point B, and there’s only a handful of ways he’s willing to do it. I prefer a Lexus and Austin is content with a ratty old clunker that belches smoke and leaks fluids.

A popular piece of advice for parents is to “pick your battles.” Rest assured I have a wide selection to choose from. Will the dinner table be another battlefront? This is my dilemma. His diet is less than optimal. I’ve warned him. He’s chosen to ignore my suggestions. Am I being a bad parent by letting this one slide? When I prepare something healthy, he isn’t hungry. When I stock up on pepperoni pizza Hot Pockets and Capn’ Crunch, his appetite returns. Isn’t it worse to let him starve? Weigh in on this one by leaving a comment.

To his credit, he tries a good amount of what I present to him, but like most teens, he will always choose the path of least resistance for short term gratification. Now that I started adding pureed vegetables wherever I can, he’s eaten more broccoli in one week than he has in almost 14 years. Heheheheheh.

I normally supply my own photographs to illustrate my articles. This one was too cool to pass up. The photo of Randy’s Donuts is by Carol Highsmith, and used here under a Creative Commons license.

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