Archive for the ‘Fatherhood’ Category

Redefining Family Movie Night

September 1st, 2014 2 comments

We cut the cord on cable about 2 months ago and have been tethered to Hulu, Netflix and over the air programming (more on that later). Since we were in the middle of a holiday weekend and our plan for camping in our back yard was rained out, we decided to have a family movie night. The way it ended up was not what we had planned.


I started by looking for something family friendly we haven’t watched. When you cut the cord you’d be amazed at how fast you can burn through these movies. After 10-15 minutes I came out of my trance with a few suggestions and noticed something.

The boys were huddled under a blanket on the floor watching Air Bud on their tablet.

My wife was watching Orange is the New Black on her phone.

Well there shoots that plan. I fired up the Hulu Plus and celebrated the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night via Chromecast. I’m not a big Beatles fan but I’ve always loved that movie.

Amazingly enough all of our programming ended around the same time and we finally got to watch the Disney movie. Well, 10 minutes of it at least before every one but me was snoring.

Is this the future of movie night?

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

Surviving the First Day of Kindergarten

August 26th, 2014 No comments

Yesterday I sent my first born off to kindergarten and even though I’ve been joking all summer that I couldn’t wait for this day to get here, when it finally did I had mixed emotions.

 Teaspoon was excited. Strike that, he was a raging ball of pumped up excitement. He was telling me all morning about how cool it was going to be, the friends he would make, and more importantly, he was riding a bus like a big kid.

We sat on the porch for what felt like an eternity. Teaspoon kept looking around the corner in anticipation for his ride when he noticed my wife was in full blown tears. He kept saying “Mommy, don’t cry. I’ll be OK.” She said “It’s not that buddy, we’re just so proud of you!”

He smiled and gave her a huge hug. Then with a smirk said “Mommy, do me a favor. Don’t follow the bus.”

I choked on my water and we all laughed because honestly, we were thinking about it.

The bus arrived and as he got on I couldn’t help but think about everything we’ve been through with him. From his early birth and time in the NICU, time at home hooked up to monitors to the moment he was accepted to the school and tested in the top 10% of kids his age.

He has always been a curious kid and anxious to experience something new as seen when we became parents to a soccer / hockey / basketball / baseball player in leagues where he didn’t know many kids. If he wants to try something, he does it and we do our best to make it happen.

I could see the awe in his eyes. The excitement of the unknown.

Teaspoon on the bus

When he came home he shot out of my wife’s car like a bat out of hell. “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! KWJHJKHDHHVDHBS!!!!!!” and for the next hour I sat back and listened to his stories from the day.

It has been a long and educational journey since I became a stay-at-home dad and this is why it happened, so I could experience these moments with him that wouldn’t have been possible if I was still working. This was the event where it became clear to me and now I’m ready to move on and get back to work.

For this guy, his brother and his mom.

Teaspoon 1st Day

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 18th, 2014 No comments

I’ve been helping out with charities since I was a little kid. In my twenties I spent a lot of time with Cystic Fibrosis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association and when I became a parent it was always March of Dimes. I did all of those because I knew someone directly involved and wanted to help out. Honestly, with so many charities out there you can only spread your money so far especially when on a fixed income.

When I first heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge I thought it was just a bunch of celebs being recruited to feel good that they had money to share. “Hey look at me, I’m donating!” but this kind of thing is in the media so much that I barely pay attention to it.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Then the Pens did it. Uh oh it’s getting local.

Soon people I knew were doing it.

I started thinking to myself that if Kevin Bacon did it the whole world would be connected and this thing would blow up, and it has. (Has Kevin done it yet anyways? It seems like he would be the go-to person for anything viral.)

My good friend Phil from My Life as a Foodie nominated myself and 2 others from our beer circles to take the challenge. The deal is you either donate money to ALSA or you have to dump a bucket of ice water over your head. Well we did both.

It seems like this challenge is drawing a lot of anger out of people also. Frankly the complainers are generally the ones griping about most things. Will dumping a bucket of ice over my head cure anything? No but it was REALLY refreshing. Is it raising awareness? I think it is and most people I know have donated money along with doing the challenge. Personally I used this opportunity to teach my kids about charities, get them involved in something fun to do and use their creativity to plan out the video. Not everything has to be entertaining but when you’re 3 and 5 it sure and heck helps get them interested.

Here is the video we came up with.

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(Watch on YouTube)

I have nominated my beloved older brother Bob Derda Jr., former altar boy partner and Tiger Beat cover boy Mario Scutella II and founder of the Pavel Bure bro-mance, Mr. Chris “Stoosh” Jiuliante.

Find out more about ALS, the challenge and to donate, go to

Categories: charity, Family, Fatherhood

Discovering Pittsburgh through my kids – Parks

August 5th, 2014 2 comments

I had no idea the amount of green available in Pittsburgh until I became a parent. I knew there were some big parks but I don’t think I really comprehended how much was available. I grew up with Presque Isle State Park and Frontier Park minutes from my house and didn’t appreciate them as much as I should have. Going back for visits now I LOVE Presque Isle but when I lived there it was the last place I wanted to spend time. It was always “there”.

Teaspoon Beach Lookout

Since I became a stay-at-home I’ve found the value of parks, both inside and out. They’re free (bonus!), they’re great for kids to run their butts off and get tired, they get to meet and play with other kids and parents get a chance to socialize also with someone not crying to have their butts wiped.

Here are a few of the ones we love to visit.

Dormont Park – Castle Park
Wooden structure with tire swings, slides and plenty of room to have battles from one castle to the other. This is our home park and we love that kids of all ages can play here. Even if we didn’t live here, this would be my favorite because it also reminds me of the old (and now gone) Jefferson School Park in Erie. People are pretty respectful of the area when it comes to keeping it clean and there are a few picnic tables if you want to bring a snack. The park is not completely enclosed though so you have to pay attention to the little ones if the wander.

Black and Gold Park
Located in South Park, this is a real gem when it comes to safety. The ground is that playground safe cushion material, there are kid safe swings, and has plenty of plastic so your kids aren’t getting dinged up. Plus side, it’s completely fenced in! There are some areas if you want to have a picnic and you’re also close to other playgrounds.

Blue Slide Park
This is a Pittsburgh icon that we finally visited a few months ago. The actual playground is fantastic for kids but a nightmare for parents if you’re watching more than a few kiddos. It’s multilevel so you may find yourself running around a lot. The blue slide is simple but genius when you think about it. Concrete slide built into the side of a hill which you ride down on cardboard. I spent a good hour watching my boys ride down it.

Teaspoon Blue Slide Park

Spray Parks
Here is a list of all the spray parks in Pittsburgh. They’re mini water parks for kids set up with sprinklers and other water art. We’ve only been to a few and deserves a post of its own once we hit them all.

State Parks
Raccoon Creek State Park and Moraine State Park are deserving of their own posts. I went to Raccoon last summer and we’ve made a few trips this year to their man made beach area. You’re out in the woods with no cell service and feel like you’re back to the days of old time family vacations. If you’re looking to disconnect and get away, this is the idea place to hang out for the day.

Moraine was my Father’s Day treat from my family. Biking, swimming, trails, and only an hour away.

North Boundary Park
We loved Cranberry when we lived there and this park is a main reason why. The kids park was great for our then 1yr old but also offered plenty of options as kids get older. This was the first park we experienced as a parent and still hold a soft sport for it. There are also multiple picnic groves and probably the best swimming pool in the area is a few steps away.

Carnegie Park
This was a popular hangout for the stay-at-home parents when we had time in between picking up kids from school. Small but nice play area and soon there will be a skate park opening up on site also. Not far is a dog park and a dek hockey rink.

There are other parks we want to check out. I lived in Oakland when I moved to Pittsburgh but haven’t been back to Schenley in many years. Mt. Lebo I’ve heard has a cool park also. Over the winter I became a connoisseur of mall parks and will hit on those later.

What are some of your favorite parks to check out?

This is the 3rd in a 3 part series on how, after living here for 16 years, I’m discovering Pittsburgh with the help of my little boys.

Everybody Walk the Dinosaur

July 31st, 2014 No comments

Boom! Boom! Acka Lacka Boom!

Boom! Boom! Acka Lacka Boom! Boom!

Walking with Dinosaurs

I don’t know if there has ever been a boy who didn’t love dinosaurs at some point in their life. They’re larger than life, ruled the world, and as my 5yr old pointed out, “Man could they poop!”. Well until that whole asteroid thing wiped them away.

Last night My father-in-law and I took Teaspoon to see Walking with Dinosaurs at the CONSOL Energy Center thanks to Lushie scoring tickets from Q92.9 FM. I’ve been trying for weeks to win tickets and of course it’s my wife’s golden touch at winning radio contests that did it.

I was sly. For 2 days I laid on the guilt with “you better be good or you won’t get your surprise” tactic to keep his butt in line. It wasn’t until we walked up to the area that he figured out what was going on.

“Daddy, nice move. I had no ideaaaaaaaOOOOOMG DINOSAAAAUUUUURRRRSSS!”

We walked in and it’s merchandise blowup. Teaspoon’s eyes bugged out and insisted he must own it all. With most items ranging $20 that wasn’t happening. We opted for unlimited popcorn and a root beer which I think was a fair trade. Bonus to the night was bumping into my buddy Val from Small Town Dad and his family. Since we share the same childhood obsessions I knew this was going to be good event.

The show is absolutely amazing. There is no other way to explain it, but I’ll try without giving any spoilers. The dinosaurs are every bit as awesome as you see in the commercials or online and they are as life-like as I can imagine. Gone are the cheesy robotics from when I was a kid and now you have a smooth moving realistic experience.

Will your kids get scared? Possibly. Teaspoon said at times it was too loud and a few younger kids did cry but for the most part I don’t see any nightmares coming from it. This isn’t Barney running around singing songs, this is as close to nature as we can imagine. The T-rex at times gave me chills especially when he came towards my section and roared.

The show runs for 2 hours and has a 20 minute intermission in between. Based on the show times there is a good chance you won’t miss any bedtimes.

The night was a huge success for us and this morning Teaspoon gave me a huge hug and said thanks for taking him.

Here are some pics I took my with camera phone. I’m also in the market for a digital camera that would be ideal in settings like this and won’t have a security guard yelling at me so feel free to send suggestions also.


Check out the gallery from the night here.

And because I can’t resist it any longer…

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(Watch on YouTube)

Categories: Family, Fatherhood, Pittsburgh