PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Raise the Woof Kicks Off White Rock Lake Celebration

March 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Jefferson Johnson
jwjohnson@mail.smu.edu

White Rock Lake Dog Park celebrated its 10th anniversary of the “Raise the Woof Pup Rally” as part of the Comerica White Rock Lake Centennial Celebration Saturday.

The fundraiser will go toward renovating the first North Texas dog park.

“It’s going to be bigger and better than ever than ever,” promised event coordinator Andie Comini.

But the fun didn’t stop there. White Rock Lake still has 98 more days of festivities to celebrate its 100th birthday.

Dad’s on Duty: More Dads Are Staying Home

November 11, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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By Bridget Bennett
brekow@smu.edu

Former restaurant industry employee David Nicolato and former salesman Joey Phillips recently met up on a peaceful Tuesday morning at Skyline Park near White Rock Lake in Dallas. Their pack of five boys from three months to four years old trailed along like ducklings.

Mr. Nicolato pushed two of the older boys on the swings, while Mr. Phillips held his snoozing four month old, Jonah. While Mr. Phillips was explaining the different parenting techniques of moms and dads, Mr. Nicolato, who is from New England, yelled: “Hey Joey! Your kid’s naked!”

One of Mr. Phillip’s four-year-old twin boys stood at the edge of the playground with his pants and underwear around his ankles, urinating into the wood chips.

“Yeah, he’s been going through this phase lately where he just doesn’t want to wear clothes,” Mr. Phillips said.

Mr. Phillips and Mr. Nicolato are two of the more than 158,000 stay-at-home dads in the United States, a number that is up more than 60 percent from 2005, according to U.S. Census statistics.

The increase is due in part to the highest unemployment rate the country has seen in more than 25 years. Adult males have been hit especially hard. According to the U.S. Labor Department’s September report, the unemployment rate for adult men is 9.8 percent compared to the 8.0 percent rate for adult women.

Unemployment, combined with the rising costs of daycare and preschool, make a stay-at-home parent more appealing to some families. As for who will stay home—the answer is largely economically based, says Dr. Robert Hampson, a veteran professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University.

“Today the majority of stay-at-home dads start off there because of layoffs or joblessness,” said Dr. Hampson, who has been researching families for more than 30 years.

Dr. Hampson said that some fathers decide they love the job of a full-time dad after they have done it for a while. But he estimated that less than a quarter of stay-at-home dads are initially there because they want to be.

But David and Cortney Nicolato, who live Dallas’ Lakewood community, say they must be part of the minority. The couple had several conversations about someone staying home even before they got engaged.

“Things like this need to be communicated well before children come into the picture,” said Mrs. Nicolato, a business developer for a healthcare firm.

David Nicolato pushing his four-year-old son and of one Mr. Phillip’s twin boys on the swings. (PHOTO BY BRIDGET BENNETT / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Niether parent wanted their children to be raised in daycare. Mrs. Nicolato earns a good income, has full benefits, and is able to work from her home except for a few monthly business trips. Mr. Nicolato was working in the restaurant industry, which meant working long nights, weekends, and major holidays.

But more importantly, Mrs. Nicolato said her husband expressed interested in staying home and playing a major role in his children’s upbringing even before they had their first child.

“I was the lucky one,” Mr. Nicolato said.

While both said they could not be happier with their decision, they agreed that their lifestyle is still uncommon in today’s culture.

Mr. Nicolato and Mr. Phillips deal with a lot of people unfamiliar with the concept of a stay-at-home dad. They shared some common phrases they hear when they take their boys to the park:

“Is mom getting the day off?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, when did your wife pass away?”
“Are you a male nanny?”

Mr. Phillips said even close friends and family members can have a hard time understanding. Members of his own family thought he was just trying to get out of working by staying home with his boys.

“When moms stay home, it’s considered family planning; when I stay home, it’s considered lazy,” Mr. Phillips said.
To help cope with the awkward explanations, Mr. Nicolato and Mr. Phillips joined Dallas at Home Dads, a playgroup and support group for stay-at-home dads.

Unlike most mommy groups in town, this dad’s group competes in March Madness brackets, meets for evening sporting events, and offers other opportunities for dads to get out of the house.

“Just getting out to talk about guy stuff is so important,” said Mr. Phillips.

Moms generally have a different approach to dealing with their kids on the playground, Mr. Nicolato pointed out. He said moms will run up to their kids with kisses and hugs when they fall down.

“Dads just say brush it off, get up and rub a little spit in it,” Mr. Nicolato said with a laugh.

Stay at home mother of four Amy Bowers of Dallas described this difference as dads being more laid back than most moms.

Joey Phillips holds his snoozing four-month-old son Jonah. (PHOTO BY BRIDGET BENNETT / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

She told the story of bumping into an at-home dad at the library. While there, he got a phone call from the school that his daughter was sick. Mrs. Bowers said he thought she would be fine, so he went to the store, bought her medicine, and sent her back to class.

“A mom would have been like, Ok, you’re coming home with me and we’re going to get you some soup and turn on a movie,” Mrs. Bowers said.

Mrs. Nicolato agreed that she and her husband handle some parenting situations differently, but she has full confidence that her husband is giving her boys just as much love and care as she would.

But both parents agreed on one shortfall of some dads: “He can’t match clothes to save his life,” Mrs. Nicolato said.
Mr. Phillips said he is “ecstatic” that he only has boys. He said some of the dads in the group with daughters say the upkeep is harder, but totally doable.

Mrs. Nicolato said she caught her husband trying to braid the hair of one of their friend’s little girls before they had their first baby. He said he wanted to know how to do it so he would be ready if they had a little girl, she explained.

“He was swaddling a doll and changing diapers on a doll before the baby was born,” Mrs. Nicolato said. She said her husband bought every baby book there was before their first son was born.

“No matter what the job was, he said he would make it happen, and he did,” said Mrs. Nicolato.

Despite the hard work, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Nicolato agreed that being there to see their boys experience life first hand is more than worth it. They both said they were there when their boys first crawled, walked, and spoke their first words.

“And you better believe they said Dada before Mama,” Mr. Nicolato said.

Burst the Bubble Blog: Row Your Boat at White Rock Lake

October 13, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Post by Elizabeth Lowe

Fall is here but the weather is still a Dallas-perfect 75 degrees – perfect for a jaunt outside The Bubble.

This week, consider exploring all there is to do around White Rock Lake.
The area is reminiscent of the bike, river and nature trails in Austin minus the drive and weekend crowds.

My personal favorite activity to do in Austin is kayaking on one of the city’s several rivers. Imagine my excitement when I heard White Rock Lake here in Dallas is offering kayak rentals this fall! Not only is the drive shorter, but it’s also a nice, quick break from the often mundane SMU weekend lifestyle of Greenville, Boulevarding, and Uptown.

White Rock Paddle Company is now renting kayaks and canoes through the end of October for various rates. For a mere $19.99 an hour, you can rent a tandem kayak or canoe to explore the lake with a friend. You can even stay out until sundown to catch a Texas sunset on White Rock.

The White Rock Paddle Co. also conducts lake trips for Thursday Nights at the Arboretum. Paddle or no paddle, this regular Thursday night live music event is another not-to-miss at White Rock.

Starting around 6 p.m., locals fill the open-air amphitheater with quilts, picnic baskets, and bottles of wine to watch an evening of live music on the lake. Beatlegras delighted concert-goers last month with their bluegrass-Beatles fusion and played past sunset making for a beautiful fall night.

Petty Theft, a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tribute band, hits this amphitheater stage this week. Tickets are $16.00 for non-members, but you can pack your own picnic and drinks to make a night of it. My words of advice: get there early, bring a blanket, and pack bug spray. Gates open at 6 p.m. with music from 7-9 p.m.

Take advantage of this great weather and burst The Bubble outside on White Rock Lake. Whether you bike, kayak, or catch some tunes you’re sure to find a nice getaway just down the road.