new born

"The Shitty Stop Saloon"

Most guys talk about a man cave as a place to escape and relax while watching sports. When you have two children in diapers at the same time, you manage to get creative about what constitutes a man cave. And then a third one comes along, and your remember the joy of it.

In the unfinished basement of an 86 year old house, there’s a high efficiency washing machine with my name on it (figuratively, of course). There’s two or three sacks of “used” cloth diapers gathered about this marvel of modern technology and gloves reminiscent of Breaking Bad.

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On Wednesday and Sunday nights, I trod down the steps to tackle all manner of excrement from cloth diapers and two twin cat litter pans beneath our wooden stairs. Before I started, I'd pop open a beer, plug my iPhone into a stereo I saved and retro-fitted from my middle school years (yep, old), and set it to play what My Better Half lovingly refers to as “my old fart music” (she’s right). I throw three days worth of cloth diapers in the basin and get down to scrubbing.

So here at the Shitty Stop Saloon, I take 30 minutes of musical silence twice a week and find comfort in the ritual of dirty work that remains a part of staying committed to cloth diapering.

After four years of this lovely routine, two children potty trained, we decided to do it again (and by “we,” I mean My Better Half). Our third child arrived in May of 2017, and I’ve started to realize how much I love the ritual of cleaning as way to care for and think of our children. It’s odd in the smelliest sense (pun intended!) to appreciate the value of an awful task, but it helps me absorb the awful with greater appreciation for how important each job/role is in our life.

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Now in an even older house, we purchased a high efficiency laundry machines (this time the largest size they have for residential homes) as a Christmas present to ourselves and set to the work of making “The Shitty Stop Saloon Part Deuce” (get it? poop - #2).

Much like the first, I have the same stereo, plastic gloves (new gloves every month but same old style), and stacks of the same diapers that have covered the butts of all three of our children. However, technology and time have afforded us some upgrades like a curated play list, windows to the outside to air out the funk, and a steam setting that really blasts out the ick. In honor of the new space, my Better Half and two big kids made a sign to decorate the cave.

You’ll find me here every Wednesday and Sunday night cleaning the diapers for their next wear. Hopefully I only have one more year of this before potty training. Here’s hoping (not predicting) a less smelly future.

Full name added online only. We couldn’t bring ourselves to write expletives over the kids’ art. Parent-life.

Full name added online only. We couldn’t bring ourselves to write expletives over the kids’ art. Parent-life.

Six Months Later

It's been roughly six months since last I posted here, and I wanted to fill folks in on my world.

I seriously can't believe that the last time I wrote was before spring started, and now the fall is moving in a serpentine, but certain manner toward the winter holiday season. Tempus fugit.

Waiting for the bus on the first day of school.

Waiting for the bus on the first day of school.

The biggest and best explanation for this writing interlude is Life itself. In May, My Better Half gave birth to our third child. Life has been a whirlwind tour of emotions and activities since our newest bundle of joy arrived, and our older children have embraced the chaos and noise with a youthful exuberance that either sustains or exhausts us (sometimes both!). Our older children have also experienced transitions (new schools, different teachers, more activities and friends) during this time period, which has made the process of keeping up challenging and rewarding.


As of this weren't enough, My Better Half managed a variety of home improvement projects during her maternity leave. The range of things that "got done" or "came up" are too numerous to mention, but my personal favorite was removing the towering trees in the back of our house that I have been complaining about since we moved in. It was an entertainment value for us.

On a professional level, I've had the opportunity to partner with both the Rochester City School District and the University of Rochester Medical Center around similar projects. The initiative with the university involves providing guidance around family-centered practices for providers of early intervention services, while the city school project focuses on partnering with educators and parents to support preschool students with more complex areas of need.

While my involvement with both projects is in its early stages, I am incredibly energized by the possibility of working with different service systems to support young children and families. 

At AutismUp's Kite Flite on August 20.

At AutismUp's Kite Flite on August 20.

I also joined the Board of Directors at AutismUp. I feel so deeply honored to be invited to work with this organization, and I hope that I can contribute to the next steps in AutismUp's story.

In early October, I presented on intelligence and adaptive behavior to a group of graduate students at Nazareth College's Interdisciplinary Specialty Program in Autism. I encourage families and providers to learn more about this amazing collaborative training program.

I recently worked with colleagues with the Genesee Valley Psychological Association to plan and host a convention on trauma-informed care at St. John Fisher College Wegman's School of Nursing. The presenters were excellent and represented a range of disciplinary perspectives.

I hope to post more often, but am mindful that the holiday season fast approaches for many of us. I welcome those who read this blog to send questions and ideas my way. I'd appreciate it!


Baby Wearing

Staying at home with kids when they're little is a crash course on multi-tasking. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but baby wearing is totally where it's at when they're so little.

1. Sling - This one is my personal favorite because it was so simple to use even I figured it out. Some of my favorite baby memories and pictures involved wearing the sling while our little one was passed out in the nook of it. I also liked that this sling din't take up much space and fit in almost any diaper bag we brought.

2. Baby Bjorn - I liked this for longer walks once the kids gained more neck and trunk strength. Facing them outward was fun for outings and festivals, facing them inwards was great when I really needed them to chill and/or fall asleep. Using this took a bit more style and finesse than the sling.

3. Moby Wrap - My Better Half bought one of these, and I never figured out how to use it. It required more hand-eye coordination than I will ever acquire, but she always made it look easy.

At Home with Our Little (Newborn) Girl

During my 5th year of graduate school, my Better Half gave birth to our first child. Becoming a father was the moment where I considered my life as complete as it could be.

Hey Baby! Hanging out with my Little Girl.

Hey Baby! Hanging out with my Little Girl.

I worked to shift my work-life priorities so that I could be more present for my family. My Better Half stayed home with our Little Girl for 12 weeks after giving birth, and during this time, we talked about me also staying home with our Little Girl two days a week for a few months after my wife returned to work full-time. Those Tuesdays and Thursdays meant so much to me that thinking about them always makes me cry. I miss those days so much.

Snuggled up for a walk around the neighborhood.

Snuggled up for a walk around the neighborhood.

For most of March and all of April 2012, I had a chance to do it all with my Little Girl. Messy meals, naps that never happened, naps that lasted for hours, inconsolable missing mommy moments, giggles for reasons only she knew, walks around the neighborhood, silly pictures, and dirty diapers. There were moments I was scared and worried that I could not do it, but those moments faded the longer I had the chance to figure it out (mostly) on my own.

Being with her, learning her faces, needs and dislikes; it gave me a strong base to build upon.

I had a big conference presentation to prepare for in mid-May, so my Better Half and I talked about transitioning our Little Girl to daycare 5 days a week so that I could focus more on my research. This was a decision that sort of had to happen, but it was still a really hard one to make. I remember sitting there the first Tuesday without my baby not wanting to write or read anything and thinking how much I missed her stinky diapers, her way of hamming it up when she wanted something, and her way of being her self with me in those small moments.

The process of parenting often feels fraught with doubt, but I felt so grateful and blessed to be able to stay at home two days a week with our Little Girl. I know this experience made me a better therapist, too, as it deepened and broadened the base of experiences I can draw upon when relating to caregivers who spend longer stretches of time at home with their children.