The featured blogger this week is James of The Fall of James. James is the proud Dad of Jameson (6), twins Truman and Amelia (4), Darwin (2), and Eliana (6 months). I’m a huge fan of James and his blog, if you have a chance check out his “Greatest Hits” post. You’ll love it, promise.
What made you decide to start a blog?
At the time there were several big things going on in our lives. I had just started exploring the blog world and knew a couple of people that had started their own blogs. A blog seemed like the perfect way to document everything that was about to happen in our lives. We found out we were pregnant with twins (just as our first child was turning two). We were building a new house and trying to sell the one in which we were living. And I was training to run my first half marathon. All of these things were converging to create an unbelievably chaotic fall of 2007 (which was the genesis of the ambiguous blog title, “The Fall of James”). I thought a blog would serve as a virtual scrapbook for us and the perfect way to keep friends and family up to date — the blog has done both. What I didn’t realize was that my blog would also introduce me to new friends and serve as a creative outlet as well.
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about having 5 kids ages 6 and under?
My favorite thing is the closeness of our family. They are so close in age that I sometimes feel like we really had them all at once. Boom! Instant big family. I think our kids feel the same way. It can be oh so chaotic, sure, but it’s amazing, too. They genuinely appreciate each other and treat each other as equals. They do everything together and I think it’s partially because they are so close in age. I don’t know if our children have ever uttered the phrase, “I’m bored.” There is never a lack of playmates. Darwin is absolutely convinced that he is not two years old, but rather four years old like Truman and Amelia. Even baby Eliana insists on being involved. She is at her happiest when she’s in the middle of the action with the rest of them.
My least favorite thing about having 5 kids ages 6 and under is… the shoes and socks. I swear it looks like a Payless store vomited in our entry way. Leaving the house is a twenty minute task based on shoe and sock procurement alone. Throw in the requisite bathroom trips and it’s a miracle we ever leave the house. Maybe the smartest parenting move I ever made was buying the exact same socks in bulk for all of our kids to wear. From doing laundry, to getting ready for school, to traveling — having all the kids wearing the same athletic crew socks has seriously helped me remain a functioning member of society. If I was really smart, though, I would have taught my children to tie their own shoes shortly after they started solid foods.
What do you like the most about being a stay at home dad?
That’s a tough question. There are a lot of things I love about being a stay at home dad. Not having to shave is definitely up there. The instant adulation bestowed by the mothers of the world is a nice perk, too. The bar is set so low for dads that unsuspecting moms sometimes resort to hero-worship when they see a stay at home dad out on the job handling his business. With four kids in tow, I once had a woman scream from across a Walmart parking lot, “YOU GO, DADDY!” The best thing, though, is the relationship I have with each of my kids. There is no doubt that being an at home parent gives you a special bond with your children. I know this opportunity I have is rare and special and I’m so thankful for it. I’ve found something to like in every job I’ve had (and yes, in many ways I treat stay at home parenting like a job), but being a stay at home dad has been so much more rewarding because of the uniqueness of my relationship with my kids. We get to be a much bigger part of each other’s lives than if I was still part of the corporate grind. Even when it gets stressful, it doesn’t take me long to remember how much of a privilege it is to be a stay at home dad. When my children are grown, I know I’ll be able to look back on this time as having had a tremendous positive influence on our relationship.
What are some of your favorite activities to do as a family?
Pretty much anything. Julie and I always have so much fun with our kids. I guess my favorite things are trying new experiences or exploring new places as a family. Going to new new parks or hiking new trails. Attempting a new craft. Traveling to a new city. Visiting a new museum. Eating at a different restaurant. Our kids’ perspectives on things are just so innocent and unspoiled that it can be very humbling to experience something new with them. It’s almost like being a kid again. It opens your eyes. Recently we ran a 5K road race as a family. It’s something Julie and I have done dozens of times before but that our children had never experienced. It was a road race like any other, but experiencing it with them made it so unique and fun. Getting out with all of them is always an adventure.
I love the photos you have of your kids on your blog, what tips do you have for capturing such great shots?
Thank you, I’m glad you like them! As for tips… practice, practice, practice. Take lots and lots and lots of photos. Experiment. You’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t with your kids. Every year I’m amazed at how much my photos have changed for the better compared to the previous year. Also, take the time to really learn your equipment. The less you have to think about your camera, the more you can think about capturing the best shots. And don’t force it. Sometimes my kids feel like being photographed, sometimes they don’t. For example, no matter how much I might want to capture the perfect Easter photo, if my kids aren’t into it, I just let it go. My best shots of my children have always come on those random days where I was in the mood to photograph and they were in the mood to be photographed.
What question(s) do you have for the other families in the community?
Well, for the longest time I’ve forgotten that we even have twins. I think because Truman and Amelia are boy/girl twins and the fact that they have siblings so close in age above and below them, they’ve always struck me as just being brother and sister, not twins. In fact, they themselves have only recently begun to understand that there is something unique about their sibling relationship. That being said, the twin reality just smacked me in the face when we registered them for pre-kindergarten at the school they’ll be attending for the next several years of their lives. Suddenly I had no choice but to start thinking about them as twins, like, for real twins. So my questions are for you parents out there with school-aged boy/girl twins. Our school leaves it up to the parents when it comes to keeping twins together or splitting them up — which did you do and why? Did you start out one way and then change your mind later? I’d also love to hear people’s thoughts on the boy/girl twin relationship. Like I said, Truman and Amelia have seemed more like singleton siblings so far. Does that tend to change as twins get older? Since their school lives are intertwined for so many years, did you ever try to specifically foster that special twin relationship or did you just let things flow on their own? Are Truman and Amelia freaks of twin nature by lacking super secret twin powers? Or are super secret twin powers really just a conspiracy cooked up by the liberal media? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences.
Be sure to leave your answers to James’ questions in the comment section and then head over to The Fall of James to leave some bloggy love!