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Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there! Although we tend to focus on the trials and tribulations of motherhood here at Simply Real Moms, we know being a dad isn’t easy, either. But we also know it’s full of moments that make fatherhood a wonderful, unforgettable experience!

So today, we asked a couple of our “Simply Real Dads” to share their favorite moments of fatherhood so far.

Reece and Mike

Mike, dad to Reece, age 22 months

“I find it very difficult to write about my favorite moment as a father because I absolutely love every moment with Reece, so I narrowed it down to my top 10!”

1. When Reece sees me his face lights up with a big smile and says Da Da with his arms stretched out to hug me.

2. When I put Reece to bed at night he says Nye Nye (Night Night) Da Da and La Lou (love you).

3. Watching Reece play with his baseball bat and throwing his baseball … I can already tell that he’s going to be a natural athlete (ok, maybe I’m just really hoping).

4. I love watching his pure excitement when the theme for Sesame Street comes on – who knew my kid would be able to dance like that!

5. Reece flirts with girls everywhere we go—he already has more game than his old man ever had!

6. How can I not love the moment that Reece was born and hearing the doctor say, “It’s a healthy boy!” Even Reece’s loud screaming couldn’t spoil that moment.

7.  I love seeing my little man copy my wife and I … it’s so cute to see him disciplining the dog just like we do. He likes to point his finger at the dog and say, “No, no, no,” and then dance wildly in excitement.

8. I love his random hugs. We can be doing anything and Reece often stops and walks over to give us a big hug—he is such a sweet and loving boy.

9. Reece is fairly shy, already independent (doesn’t need anyone’s help) and doesn’t like when Marcie tells him no—definitely a chip off the old block!

10. Reece has no problem saying “no,” but he still doesn’t say yes. Instead he gets excited and says “ooouuu.” Mommy and Daddy love hearing that ooouuu because it usually follows about 20 no’s when trying to figure out what the heck he wants.

Miles and Cameron

Cameron, dad to Miles, age two

This sports-loving dad has found a way to bond with his toddler on the court!

I love basketball. I played it with my friends when I was younger, I play it in my freetime, and I play in a men’s league now. Basketball has been something I’ve just loved my entire life, so my ABSOLUTE favorite dad moment was the first time my son asked me to play basketball with him!

He was young, but he wanted me to hold him up to the hoop so he could throw his ball in.

Now, we shoot hoops nightly in his room and he is learning all the terms and different passes and plays, and it is just the best to hear him say, “Wanna play, Dad? Shoot it off the glass!” I tell all my childless friends that kids are cool, and I think my son proves that point!

Isla and George

George, dad to Isla, age one

“As the seasons have gone by, I’ve been able to see my daughter Isla  grow from a snuggly, sleepy newborn into a sweet, playful toddler. Seeing her grow over the last year has given me not only great memories, but also reinforced some of life’s most valuable lessons. Here are a few of those memories and the lessons I learned.”

1. Last summer, shortly after Isla was born, my wife and I (although mostly my wife) were worn out from constantly struggling to get our little girl to sleep. I tried every trick in the book and she’d always resist. We tried singing to her, rocking her back and forth, holding her in the bathroom with the fan on, rubbing her back, and nothing seemed to work.

Then one day while my wife was out running errands and I was on daddy-duty, I decided to sit on the couch and watch a baseball game with my daughter. She could squirm and cry and do whatever, but I was going to catch a few innings if it killed me. She fell asleep almost instantly while laying on my chest! Not only was this one of the sweetest moments I can ever remember, but it also reinforced the lesson that sometimes the seemingly most difficult problems have the simplest solution … either that or watching the Cubs on TV is enough to make anyone fall asleep!

2. Then last fall as we started to get out with her more, we visited my sister and her family. We walked in with my wife holding Isla in her arms, and my sister’s big, fluffy white Labradoodle starting jumping around and playfully barking (LOUDLY) as he usually does to greet her guests. We figured this was going to scare the daylights out of Isla. But what we heard was not a hysterical bout of crying, but a boisterous belly laugh that carried on for as long as the dog barked. It was the first time she laughed for us, and it’s something we’ll never forget as a classic reminder about the contagiousness of a child’s laughter.

3. During the holidays, we did like most over-zealous new parents do and took our seven-month old to see Santa Claus downtown on Michigan Ave.  Of course, most people thought we were nuts to deal with the crowds of downtown Chicago. We heard all the horror stories about how babies freak out at the sight of ol’ St. Nick. So needless to say, we were on edge about how the day might turn out. When we finally got downtown, the parking was easy, the lines were short and when Isla sat on Santa’s lap, she gave him a big smile and provided us with the perfect photo op. What a great memory, captured on film and reinforcement that sometimes there is nothing worse than anticipation.

4. Then in the spring, we headed down to Grandma’s place in Florida for a little fun in the sun. Isla was tired and sick from teething and mommy and daddy were spent from a tough couple of months. When we finally arrived, the bright, warm sunshine brought a smile to all our faces. We headed down to the pool every day where Isla seemed to have as much fun as she’s ever had in her life. We went out and had fresh seafood almost every night—Isla even enjoyed the fresh grouper! We came back home well-rested and remembering how much fun Spring Break can be.

5. Now, we’ve made it through that first year and back to summer again. I continue to cherish the everyday joys of being a father. Coming home from work is the best. When I walk in the door, I am greeted with her smile with arms thrown up in the air to express her excitement. Then we play with her toys before her nighttime ritual of a bubble bath, where I usually play peek-a-boo with her by putting a towel over my head until she pulls it off and laughs at me, and some stories before bed. Then as I fire up the laptop or turn on the TV after she’s drifted off to sleep, I think about how lucky I am and wonder what she’ll teach me tomorrow.