Father Figures: Diagnosis

“Penelope and Clementine are twin sisters but they are different. The way any set of siblings is different, yes. But also more so.

That’s because Clementine, my wife and I recently learned, is autistic.

Clementine was officially diagnosed with mild autism at 21-months-old. Upon hearing Clementine’s diagnosis for the first time, my wife immediately broke down crying. And she’s still in the process of grieving the “perfect life” that we imagined for our children.

My emotional reaction was not so immediate. I first had to contextualize Clementine’s diagnosis.

I spent the first 30 years of my life struggling to overcome several anxiety disorders. Against all expectations, including my own, I’m now a seasoned trial attorney and stand-up comedian. My wife is even more of an enigma: a clinical psychologist with bipolar disorder. If autism turns out to be Clementine’s cross to bear, it’s no more daunting, I thought, than the burdens my wife and I have already overcome.

Fortunately, we have help for Clementine. Through New York’s Early Intervention Program, she’s now eligible for up to 20 hours a week of therapy and instruction. Studies show that early intensive behavioral intervention improves learning, communication, and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders.

While I’m anxious about the road ahead, I’m optimistic about her future.”

– Dean Masello

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Dad Builds Wheelchair-Accessible Igloo for His Nine Adopted Kids

(Reddit/danthoms)

Parenting is a tough gig. We’re all doing the best we can, trudging through, mostly happy to survive another day without blowing it too badly.

Then we run across some parents who are doing more than merely surviving, they’re crushing it on every level, and making us look like amateurs. Like the Cincinnati dad who built an igloo for his kids, complete with wheelchair access. Nine kids. All of whom have special needs. All of whom they’ve adopted.

If I had nine kids, I wouldn’t have the energy to get out of bed, let alone build an igloo, let alone add a ramp to the igloo! Gregg Eichhorn is a superhero, and so is his wife Katie.

“We adopt all medical and special needs kids because seems like those are the kids where they have the hardest time finding homes for them,” Eichhorn told CBS.

His oldest, 19-year-old Zahara, was adopted from Uganda. She is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair, but she had no problem rolling into the enormous snow fort her dad built with his sister. She couldn’t wait to get in there.

“Her face lit up – she gets super excited,” Eichhorn said of Zahara’s reaction when she saw the igloo. “I think she felt like a movie star.”

He wasn’t the only one! Elijah, Zahara’s brother, also uses a wheelchair, was excited about the igloo. All nine of the Eichhorn kids were.

“They’re all loving it. They think it’s really neat,” Superdad said.

Obviously. Who wouldn’t want a badass igloo like that in their yard!

Reddit agrees. One of Gregg’s friends posted about the igloo on Reddit and it immediately took off, garnering over 70,000 upvotes and nearly 1000 comments as people shared their admiration for the dad, and for his handiwork.

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Eichhorn is happy for the extra attention his viral post is bringing to special needs children who need homes.

“I think it’s really important that all kids with medical and special needs that are orphans have people to step up and provide them with homes.”

Dad Lands Vacation Dates for Sons With Funny Classified Ad

(NZ Herald/Facebook)

If you reach a certain age and aren’t in a relationship, parents simply can’t accept it. In their eyes, you are their little prince or princess and anyone would be damn lucky to be with you.

So, bless their hearts, they do their best to help you out with setting up blind dates and plan, planning social events, or just incessant prodding about their need for grandchildren.

One particular dad from Portland, Oregon went above and beyond, however, when he placed an ad for not one, but all three of his sons in a New Zealand newspaper while they were there on vacation.

(Facebook)

“Hello Parents. We are from the States (Oregon), visiting your beautiful country. My wife and I have three wonderful, successful, handsome, alas unmarried, sons between the ages of 28-32,” the ad in the NZ Herald read.

“We are not expecting, just hoping, to introduce our sons to nice NZ daughters. At the very least we’ll embarrass our sons and the truth is, we do find some enjoyment in that.”

Neil, the proactive father, said the ad immediately received over 200 replies and he was doing his best to sort through them all since his sons still had no idea any of it was happening.

“I’m somewhat surprised that I have got quite a lot of responses,” he said.

“It is hard to tell how many are genuine. A few are maybe just scammers but for the most part, people are really amazingly nice in your country.”

(NZ Herald/NewsTalk ZB)

Neil’s sons—Matthew, Jeremy, and Benjamin—range from ages 26 to 31 and all have steady jobs in the Pacific Northwest region. According to their dad, though, their dating lives haven’t really been a serious focus for any of them.

“I know one of my sons uses these dating sites and is always going on introductory dates and meeting somebody, but he hasn’t had a serious relationship in quite a while,” Neil told the newspaper.

“I decided to help. I have no idea what will happen, but at least we will be able to meet some people.”

Neil says he’s still deciding when and how to tell his sons about the ad, probably waiting until they are actually on the flight to New Zealand or casually slipping it in while they disembark.

“I might say, ‘Oh, by the way, I did place a little ad for you guys’,” he chuckled.

“I am sure they will be surprised and annoyed, but I am sure they will laugh. We have a good relationship and are always joking with each other. They know I am a little unusual in that regard.”

As it turns out the brothers were all good sports about it. In total the ad sparked more than 600 responses and even resulted in a few dates.

“Between my brothers and I, we went on a few one-on-one dates,” Benjamin told the Daily Mail.

“[New Zealand women] are very intelligent, kind, friendly people. We love their accents. They were a lot of fun, everyone we met seemed nice.

“I think we will continue to stay in touch with the people we met. We really want to come back – it was a beautiful country.”

Father Figures: Unconventional and Unexpected

“We were 10 months into marriage as 23-year-olds, new to NYC. Jake was in grad school at Columbia while we were getting used to living in our 400 sq. ft. studio in Washington Heights. His mechanical engineering midterms were coming up, so I made some freezer meals and went to CA to visit my family while he studied and took tests.

Two days into my trip home, we got a call from an old friend to adopt her sweet baby girl.

While my saying yes was immediate, I of course knew I should probably consult my husband! So I called him, around midnight his time, and asked him if we could keep her! (This is possibly what caused him to go grey at 25?)

He replied, “What? Is that allowed? Of course! We have to do the right thing,” and watching him meet her a week later was the most special experience. It was an unconventional and unexpected way to enter into parenting, but he is absolutely crushing the dad game and it’s as if the dad jokes started immediately.

It’s like something releases in the brain once you’re wildly in love with your kids. He’s holding off on the white leather New Balances for now, but causes our daughter, Stella Grace, to light up with his imaginative play and jumping on the trampoline.

He even said it’d be okay to have a few more kids, and he just bought me a minivan, so I assume that means he wants to max it out! I’m thankful for the father he is!”

– Monique Coleman

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Frosty the Snowman Stops Vehicular Vandals in Their Tracks

(Cody Lutz Media)

Sometimes things just work out perfectly.

Cody Lutz of Petersberg, KY enjoyed the recent snowfall in the “Bluegrass State” by constructing a giant 9-foot-tall snowman with his fiancee and soon-to-be sister-in-law.

Lutz commented in a Facebook post that his fiancee’s sister was “elated to experience the biggest snowfall she’s ever seen.”

(Cody Lutz Media)

Using a giant tree stump as a foundation for “Frosty,” this giant snow fellow was about as sturdy as they come. So much so, in fact, that he survived a head-on collision with a would-be vandal’s car.

When Lutz cam home later that day, he noticed tire tracks leading up to the snowman from the road. Clearly, some motorist out there had vehicular snowmanslaughter on the mind but underestimated all the junk in Frosty’s trunk.

(Cody Lutz Media)

The snowman looks a little worse for wear with the tree stump in its base now exposed, but the snowy imprint of the bumper definitely adds some flair.

“You reap what you sow,” Lutz said. “Still standing and still smiling, Frosty certainly had the last laugh!”

The Best Comments of the Week 1/20

(Getty)

Every week we pan for comedy gold in the comments section of our Facebook posts. If your comment cracks us up (or warms our hearts) we’ll showcase it here!

Here’s this week’s roundup of the Best Comments of the Week:

1. GO. TO. SLEEP.

2. Dirty Dishes

3. Memories

4. Capri-Fun 

5. Likes Gas

6. Survival

7. Vision

8. Go Away

9. Strikes

10. The New Jr. 

11. Switch

12. Drive

13. Blinded by the Lights

14. 30 Minutes or Free

15. Important Date

Check out the previous edition of our The Best Comments of the Week here.

Father Figures: I Was His

“My mother married an abusive man who was in the military. He moved her out to Germany, where he was stationed. He was the biological father of my sister and me. After my sister was born, my mother decided to leave him to escape the abuse. He hasn’t been in our life since.

When she moved back to the states, she reconnected with her school sweetheart. They’d known each other since they were kids themselves. This man is my dad. He loved my sister and me the moment he saw us. He always treated us like his own.

He and my mom had my second sister together, and he raised us all with equal treatment. He was there to teach, praise, discipline, and love all of us. For the longest time, I didn’t realize we weren’t blood, but that didn’t matter because we’re more.

He and my mom eventually divorced and we moved to a different state. Dad moved to the same state to spend more time with us. He’d take us all out separately and spend quality time with each of us. Once we became adults, he moved back to California.

It actually wasn’t until I’d gotten older, and someone asked me about my “half sister,” that I’d ever thought of that before. I was offended because I’d always considered her and my dad blood. This raised subtle doubts in my mind that maybe since I wasn’t his blood, he didn’t consider me 100% his son. Maybe I wasn’t good enough to be this amazing man’s blood son, even though he never gave me any reason to doubt.

Then he got really sick with a blood disease. It got bad fast. At this point I’m an adult raising my own kids trying to live up to his example while struggling to make ends meet. He’s hospitalized the next state over and doesn’t have much time left. His disease had taken a toll on his mind. He’d stopped recognizing people, and it was difficult for him to be coherent.

I packed up my family to be with him right away without a second thought. I walked in his room expecting the worst, he wouldn’t recognize me or even be able to speak. But as soon as I entered, he shot up and said “my son!” He turned to the nurse attending him, tears in his eyes, and told her “that’s my son, my son is here!” And that’s when I knew: I was his. He was in so much pain, and he was overjoyed to spend his last moments on this earth with me.

I think of him every day. My heart is full knowing my dad loved me. Every day I try to make him proud and raise my children by his example. He taught me what it really means to be a dad.”

– Nate Castillo

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

3 Things to Do With Your Kids This Weekend

(The Dad/Joel Willis Getty/Cavan/Paul Mansfield)

Good dads know how important it is to spend quality time with their kids and how fun it can be too. But it can be tough to keep coming up with new stuff to keep your kids entertained. If you’re dreading a weekend of kids complaining about being bored while you countdown the seconds until bedtime, we feel your pain. So each week we’re going to feature 3 simple ideas of things to do with your kids.

Visit an Animal Shelter

(The Dad/Joel Willis)

Kids love animals, so you can entertain your kids and teach them about a good cause, that’s a win/win! You’ll be able to visit the various sections of animals: dogs, cats and small animals (rabbits, hamsters, etc.) I know what you’re thinking, don’t worry, you don’t have to actually adopt. Shelters are cool with non-commitment and often have rooms where you can play with the cats, even without intention of adoption.

While shelters don’t accept volunteers under the age of 18, they’re always in the need for gently used towels, sheets and blankets (that don’t contain stuffing.) So you could put together a little care package of your used items before you go. And cat toys are always in demand – you could hit up a dollar store on the way and let the kids pick out a few.

American Ninja Style Obstacle Course

Put your kids to the physical test in a homemade obstacle course. This can be done indoors or out, but since it’s January we’ll opt for the home field advantage: it’s warm and dry. Use every piece of furniture you have at your disposal: couches, chairs, pillows, beds. Get creative in your space. Ask your kids to help create the course, you’ll be surprised what they come up with.

Here’s some inspiration! If the video below won’t play, click here)

Un-Bore a chore: The Grocery Store

When chores are mounting weekends can’t always be 100% fun time activities. So, bring the kids to the grocery store! I know, I know, hear me out. Tell your kids you’re going food shopping to get the food necessary to recreate their favorite restaurant dish at home. Let them each decide. Have them each make a mini-grocery list of the items they need. While you’re up and down the isles they can be searching for their own ingredients.

You can also challenge them to try new/weird foods from every section. Like, “who’s brave enough to try canned sardines?” Collect a handful of unique food items then make a platter out of them once you return home and see who will actually try them.

(Getty/Jacob Fergus)

Steve Carell Is Coming to Netflix In “Space Force” [WATCH]

(Facebook/Netflix)

Steve Carell is going back to an office. On television.

No, no “The Office,” unfortunately, but potentially an office-type situation, on a TV show, by the creator of “The Office.” So, close enough!

Thanks to Netflix, where the entire series is now available, appreciation for The Office, and its star, are as high as they’ve ever been. Over the past year, not only have there been a handful of mini-cast reunions, NBC announced plans for a reboot or a relaunch or a remake or a re-something of the series. But neither those reunions nor those new plans have featured any Steve Carell.

Perhaps he was paying attention to the fans who found him via Netflix, because he is making his return to the small screen via the streaming service.

The new show is called “Space Force” and will tackle the team of people responsible for bringing President Trump’s new sixth division of the armed forces – which he announced over the summer – into existence.

Not a lot is know about the show just yet. It will air on Netflix, Carell will star, and he co-created the show along with his old boss and creator of the American version of “The Office,” Greg Daniels.

Netflix announced the show with a teaser that announces the creative team behind the show, and indicates that the entire premise will be built around the absurdity of the space force’s existence. Which, I suspect, is enough to get fans everywhere on board.

Unfortunately, the closest we get to a launch date (get it?) is the teaser’s promise that “Space Force” is coming soon. To Netflix.