Cast of Dads 4: Happy New Year (and Making it to Midnight!)

 

The Cast of Dads could not resist getting together to record one last podcast for 2009.  Certainly one of our highlights of the year was getting together because of the Sony DigiDad Project, and we have been having a lot of fun sharing our stories and just “shooting the breeze” together ever since in our weekly “Cast of Dads” podcast.  We appreciate all the support from you and look forward to many more episodes of Cast of Dads in 2010.  Together we are going to help make 2010 the “Year of the Dad!” and we could not do it without the great Dadomatic community!  Here is what we talk about in our end of year podcast (hmmm, can you see a pattern here?):

  • Gifts we Got
  • Beer
  • Microbrews
  • Beer of the Month Club
  • New Year’s Traditions
  • Drinking in general
  • Scotch
  • Making it till midnight?
  • 2010 Resolutions
  • When did we do our first funnel?
  • Dr. Does & Naughty Nurse —>
  • Predictions for 2010

You can listen to Eposide 4 here, and you can also subscribe to Cast of Dads in iTunes.

On behalf of all the Dads in our cast, and everyone here at Dadomatic we send you our very best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy holiday and a wonderful New Year!

See you next year!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood.  The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff,Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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Most Popular Posts of 2009 on Dad-O-Matic

Here’s a list of the most popular posts for 2009. Ironically, even though we’re the number one Daddy Blog with over 80 fathers writing for us, our top two posts were from women! This only proves that our new feature called The Better Half  has been a total success. It gives the women in our lives a voice…and adds a touch of much needed estrogen to our testosterone-heavy domain.

1.  5 Legal Documents Every Dad Should Know About byAlexis Martin Neely who shared it on Good Morning America with Chris Cuomo!

2. How to Get More Sex from Your Wife by Christine “Purplecar” Cavalier

3. iPhone Apps for Kids by Ryan Ozawa

4. The Simplest of Pleasures by Chris Brogan

5. Meet Gwen Thompson: The $95 Homeless American Girl Doll by Adam Keats

6. KMart Holiday Shopping Dad Style by Chris Brogan (Controversy did not hurt this one!)

7. Halloween Costumes for Kids by Chris Brogan

8. Kindergarten Assessment – The First Test by David Niall Wilson

9. Recharging Life and Balance by Chris Brogan (Yes, people love his work!)

10. How to Tell a Killer Scary Story by Jeff Sass

11.Lessons Learned from Finding Nemo by Doriano “Paisano” Carta

12. 5 Tips on Fatherhood Your Dad Never Told You by Jeff Sass

13. Andy Andrews Says 50 Things Dads Say in 60 Seconds! by Doriano “Paisano” Carta

14. 5 Tips for Phenomenal Photos of Your Kids by Jason of Kim & Jason

15. The Mom Song by Doriano “Paisano” Carta

So there you go. Which posts did you enjoy the most? Was your favorite not in this list? Please share it in the comments. Thank you for making 2009 such a great year! We plan to make 2010 even better for all dads and all family members!

Doriano

The Princess & The Dragon – Christmas Magic

My son wants to be a movie director…among other things.  He asked for a green screen setup this year for Christmas, and we got it for him (not cheap).  One of the things we’ve been trying to do, since our family grew by two boys, is to get them all to do things together, to spend time and create the sort of bonds that will last them a lifetime.

Today, Katie, our six year old, asked Zane to draw “sets” with her so she could put on a play.  I saw he wasn’t really having fun, and it all clicked in my mind.  We got out the green screen and set it up.  Katie dressed in her Princess costume.  We got out her Webkinz dragon, and we went to work.  We filmed “The Princess and the Dragon” – a very short film.  Zane edited it with his software, put in a backdrop of a castle, added sound effects…

Here is the final product – at least the one you can see in a video player.  Beyond that…the product was a stronger union between the kids and a shared memory for the three of us.  Good times…thank you Christmas…

 

Opening Doors To Your Children’s Dreams

As parents we are many things.  At times we are the masters, at times we are the mentors.  We have to be both teacher and preacher.  We have to lead and feed and seed our children so that they grow into happy and productive adults.  We live in stressful and complicated times and now, more than ever, it is important to just be happy!  As many of us – myself included – can relate to, that is often easier said than done.

Don’t Worry, Be Passionate!

One of the surest ways to be happy is to pursue things you have a passion for, no matter what it is.  Reading, writing, cooking, knitting, drawing, sports, music, whatever it is that gives you that tingle of adrenalin and makes you smile just thinking about doing it, is the thing you should make sure you are finding ways to pursue.  As a dad, I have tried to make my passions obvious to my kids, and stressed to them the benefit of being passionate and, trite as it may sound, following your dreams.  As parents, I think it is our job to encourage our kids to believe that every door can be opened for them if they believe it, and are willing to work for it.

Guitar Man

With that in mind, I am enormously proud of my son Ethan, who moved to Boston today to pursue his dream and passion for his guitar at the Berklee College of Music.  When he first graduated from High School, he did not take the necessary steps to apply for admission to Berklee and he ended up in the music program at a local University. However, he did not give up, and set a goal to transfer to Berklee, a goal he has now achieved.  As a new door opens for him in Boston, it is with mixed emotions that I close the door to his room here at home.  I will sorely miss the sound of his guitar, which has been a welcome household soundtrack for many years, but I can only be happy and proud to know he is pursuing his dream.

Before he left, I made this video of him “jamming” in his room.  Of course, I am partial, but I hope you enjoy it, and more importantly, I hope you too are helping your kids open the doors to their passions and dreams, whatever they may be.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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Merry Christmas

I put this video together yesterday to share with my friend and family. As the Dad-O-matic dads are quickly becoming part of my online family I wanted to share it here too. Merry Christmas.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas … From Me

My son Zane got a tripod for his birthday.  His birthday is actually on Christmas day, but wae celebrate early to keep them separate.  Anyway…he filmed me reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” …and we thought we’d share.  Enjoy:

 

Creating a Virtual Christmas

I mentioned in my last post that I would be doing a project to help make the long distance gap on the holiday much less. So here are some stocking stuffers from the BenSpark.com tree that will help you.

  • A Free Blog
  • Photo Sharing Account
  • Qik Account
  • Cell phone that can run Qik
  • Ustream.tv Account
  • Webcam
  • Twitter Account
  • Eye-Fi Card
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It Fits

 

A Dedicated Blog: Step one in creating a virtual Christmas (this can also be used to celebrate other holidays) is to create a new blog. I decided to use Blogger because it is wicked easy to set up and it is free. Since this isn’t something I’m going to blog on all the time and it is really just for my in-laws to view I don’t need to think SEO, design and so many other things. This is not a long term commitment.

Dress it Up: I did want to make the blog look nice so I grabbed a quick theme from DeluxeTemplates. You certainly don’t have to do this but it is easy enough to do so why not take one quick step to pretty up the place.

Video: I’m not going to be tied to the computer all Christmas day so instead to set up so many things behind the scenes. That way when Christmas Day comes I don’t have to do anything except turn things on. On the new blog I added a gadget to the blog that has the code for my Live Ustream channel. That way when I am live on Ustream the blog will be showing me live. So, when I am not live visitors can look at previous shows. The same can be done with Qik. I set up both of these because on Christmas Day I will be in a wireless network and on the Day after Christmas when we go to visit my wife’s extended family I will only have the cell phone to use. By adding both channels I don’t have to direct my in-laws to multiple places they can go to one place to see everything that is going on.

Photos: I’ll be taking photos during the day and rather than be stuck uploading the images to the blog or to Flickr or anywhere else I can take the photos and have them wirelessly post by using an Eye-Fi card. I can change the settings so that the photos automatically upload with a specific tag on them. The reason I want to do this and why I chose Flickr is that I can create a badge based upon that specific tag. I created a vertical badge that shows the 5 most recent images and added that to the sidebar. This way when I take photos with my camera using an eye-fi card all images automatically have the correct tag and they will show up in the sidebar.

Twitter: You could set up a special Twitter account to quickly text little things that your kids say and capture those truly silly and endearing moments. In blogger you can pull in as many RSS feeds as you would like and thus you can pull in that Twitter feed into the sidebar of that new blog.

Mobile Blog Posts: With blogger you can send blog posts via SMS, MMS or e-mail to your blog. You just have to set that up ahead of time. Just click on Settings / Email & Mobile, there you can make those settings. If you want to post up something quick that your child said then send an SMS message. Post a quick image with title using your cell phone then use MMS. If you want to have more options send the post to your Email Posting Address for blogger. I suggest that when you are setting up this sort of blog you involve the rest of the family to help. So, both my wife and I will set up our phones to be mobile blogging units for the Christmas Holiday. If you’d like to see how things go for us please visit http://holidaybenspark.blogspot.com/.

The Best Thing I Ever Did

broken television This holiday season, my daughter asked for a plush kitty. My boy asked for anything Thomas. That’s it. Know why? The picture is pretty much the reason. My kids don’t get a steady input of toy ads so as such, they don’t really seem to have as many interests in such.

Now, I used to feel pretty clever about this until my boy found an ad on Playhouse Disney’s site for some game that was like a Nintendo Wii, but much more lame. For a while there, I thought we’d have to get it, because he was pretty fixated after seeing ONE ad. But, we talked him out of the system, and back into something similar but for the Wii he already owned from a year or so ago.

I feel like our kids don’t get a lot of advertising, at least not in the house, and that’s good.

Thing is, look how much advertising WE get as dads. I’m pretty much convinced I need a new expensive watch and a Camaro. Aren’t you?

Photo credit schmilblick

Introduction

WOW! I’m so excited to join the Dad-O-Matic community. I just wanted to introduce myself in my first blog over here. I guess I share two things in common with everyone on this blog. I’m a Dad and I’m a bit of geek. I guess I’ll start with the Dad stuff and then cover the geek stuff.

I first became a dad Seven Years ago when we lost our first child at 22 weeks. I only mention that because the article I wrote on that experience won me the 2009 East Cobber Father of the Year. In the seven years since we lost that first child I have had three more. The oldest Haley has Cerebral Palsy and was the inspiration for me to start blogging regularly. My second child Abby is 3 and is an absolute trouble maker. The other day she made up the song:

Wiggle your tushy all day long.
wiggle your tushy sing a song.
wiggle your tushy go outside and play.
wiggle your tushy its a beautiful day.

And now I have a 10 week old boy named Issac. As I mentioned Haley inspired my first consistent blog MySpellingSucks.com an unedited discussion about my ADD and Dyslexia and my daughters CP. I generally cover topics about how my disability helps me in raising a child with a disability but I also cover inspirational stories about folks with disabilities and just Dad/parenting stuff in general. I even started The DADvocate Project this past Thanks Giving.

The DADvocate Project is a project to write a book about dads by dads. We’ve created a survey that covers family, fun, work, finances, religion, time spent with kids and family, how often you have sex with your wife, do you have tattoos, have you done recreational drugs etc. We cover the gambit. We are then going to interview a subset of the dads and look for interesting correlation in the data to put together the book. Ideally we’ll have stories about ,what you were like in college and high school, how you developed as a person and how kids changed you. We’ll go deep and it will be fun. The DADvocate Project is currently hosted at the MySPellingSucks.com website but can be reached through TheDADvocateProject.com We certainly can use more entries so come help us reach 1000 entries now.

Finally as I said I’m a geek. I finally convinced my dad when I was eleven to buy a computer. It was 1986 and we bought an Apple IIc. I still love that thing and wish we had kept it. I bought a programming book and wrote a down hill ski program that had two lower case l’s as skis and they were maneuvered by the arrow keys through the * trees. I also was absolutely obsessed with the game Lemonade stand.  Thus was born my profession as a business analyst, half in computers and half in business. Today they call me a Business Systems Architect and I’ve held a number of titles over the year but I’m basically always doing the same thing helping the business find answers for how to make more money, and do it better, faster, cheaper with technology. I do it professionally for larger corporations and I like to help smaller companies with it too on the side. I love technology and I love educating people on it’s use. Therefor I only occasionally cover complicated topics because I want the small business owners who read my site to be able to implement the free and cheap tools available to them to help optimize their business.  If you are interested in this blog you should check it out over at MetzgerBusiness.com .

I’d love to know more about each of you, who read this blog. Tell me about yourself and your kids and how you got into technology.

 

Cast of Dads Podcast Episode 3: Mustaches, Massages & Man Purses!

The “Cast of Dads” is back for our last recording before the Christmas Holiday, and it’s a doozy.  Somehow our Holiday chatter leads us from the manly to the metro-sexual.   In this episode we discuss:

  • Snow Days
  • Holiday Gifts We Want
  • Mustaches
  • Massages and Massage Envy
  • Guys like the spa too
  • Pedicures? Really?
  • Daddy Spa
  • Chores
  • Modern Family & Men of a Certain Age
  • Holiday Traditions

You can listen to Episode 3 here, or to get the latest episodes immediately you should subscribe to our feed which you can now also do from iTunes (and of course feel free to leave a review).  You can also follow us on Twitter.  We hope you are enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, and send you and your families our very best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday, and a prosperous New Year!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood.  The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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Shrink the Distance with Family During the Holidays.

My wife’s parents live in Florida and we live in Massachusetts. Holidays are some of the toughest times of year for my wife because her family live so far away and my family lives downstairs. We own a condo on the second floor and they on the first. So, we are always around my family. Making sure that my in-laws are part of the joy and wonder of my daughter Eva’s Christmas can be a challenge. Eva is two years old and these are the best sort of Christmases because she is so excited and filled with wonder. I feel awful that Allison’s parents cannot be here to physically share that with us.

Thank the Internet we’ve got alternatives. For one thing there are programs like Skype and countless other messaging systems to talk with each other or to use video chat. The other day I put together Eva’s Christmas gift from her Mimi and Grandpa Dano. It was an art cart that she could use to create all her future masterpieces. We gave her that gift last night and my in-laws were there.

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Shrink the Distance with Family During the Holidays.

 

No, not actually in the room but they watched Eva’s joy playing with the art cart via MSN messenger and listened to her delight through an open phone line (for some reason their sound is screwed up and using sound from the computer programs is always a lesson in futility for us.). However, this did work for us really well. I could follow Eva around with the Allison’s netbook so she could show her grandparents the tree, her toy and also her own little tree.

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Shrink the Distance with Family During the Holidays.

 

For Christmas Day I may also set up a private folder on Picasa or other online photo site to use with my eye-fi wireless sd card. If I do that every photo I take can automatically upload directly to the site so that my in-laws can follow the festivities real time.

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Shrink the Distance with Family During the Holidays.

 

Had I thought of this more before hand I’d have gotten them a wireless photo frame that can read an RSS feed so that I could pull in Holiday Tweets, Photos and videos so they can see everything right away.

I sense a project in the works. Once I set it up I’ll tell you all about it.

Bad gifts

Listerine Pocket Pak s

Are you guilty of buying your spouse or significant other a bad gift?  Over the years I have purchased my wife a salad spinner, stuffed her stocking with Listerine Breath Strips (what the heck was I thinking?) and purchased concert tickets for a show I was much more interested in than she was.

What are your bad gift stories and how did you recover?

Photo credit: erik jaeger

Benjamin Strong is the Director of Marketing for the United States Coast Guard Amver search and rescue program.  He is the father of three boys, the oldest with Down syndrome.  You can follow his professional exploits on the Amver blog or on Twitter.  His personal thoughts are here.

We could learn a lesson from Rudolph

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Cast

Have you ever paid close attention to the classic Christmas television program Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? Rudolph and Hermey are misfits and the misfit toys are marooned on an Arctic island. It seems people with differences are sort of dismissed. But what’s interesting is that the North Pole is actually quite similar to our own world. We see people with differences every day. Perhaps Christmas is the time to show a little more tolerance.

The number of people with differences is growing. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported an increase in the number of children with Autism. The National Down Syndrome Society reports one in every 733 births results in a child with Down syndrome. More and more people with differences and disabilities are included in our daily lives. Heck, even the Department of Labor recognizes the increase of people with disabilities in the workplace and has an Office of Disability Employment Policy.

So who needs a Charlie in the Box or a train with square wheels? We all do.  People with disabilities enrich our lives.  Remember the ending of Rudolph?  Santa discovered Rudolph could help guide his sleigh, Hermey removed the teeth of the Abominable  Snowman while Yukon Cornelius had him place the star on top of the Christmas tree.  And Santa made good on a promise to ensure all the misfit toys found children on Christmas morning.

It’s funny how lessons can be learned from the most basic stories.  I hope you have a happy holiday seaon and make room in your life for greater tolerance of people with differences.

Merry Christmas!

Photo credit: uploaded to Flickr by K!T

Benjamin Strong is the Director of Marketing for the United States Coast Guard Amver search and rescue program.  He is the father of three boys, the oldest with Down syndrome.  You can follow his professional exploits on the Amver blog or on Twitter.  His personal thoughts are here.

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Put Your Child On Santa’s Nice List

Disney sent me the above email.  I opened it up and decided to try it out.  I already had registered with their site before (for what I have no idea) then it was just a matter of uploading a recent pic of my daughter and typing in her name.

After you make your own video, there are a ton of options to share it on almost every soical network, social bookmarking, and blogging platform.  Most of my family reads my Facebook so I shared it there.  I also blogged about it in case they missed it.

My daughter loved that she could see that she made nice list. You can make your own video by clicking on the above image. Want to see what it will look like before you commit. Click here to see my daughter’s.

Buck blogs almost daily at BuckDaddyBlog.com where he blogs about being a dad, sprinkled with some product reviews and giveaways, with a whole lot humor and self deprecation.  He also write Rules For My Daughter.

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How A Social Media Guru Helped My Son With His Homework

Thanks to technology, our kids are growing up in an amazing time. Homework assignments that I would have had to use construction paper, crayons and Elmer’s Glue to complete are now being accomplished with laptops and PowerPoint.  Stacks of papers and notebooks have been replaced by files on key chain sized USB drives.  Those are just some of the obvious uses of technology in the classroom.  With all the cool “web 2.0″ and “Social Media” tools available kids are coming up with new and creative ways to fulfill their homework assignments and recently I was happy to make a suggestion that that helped my son get an “A.”

The Animated Ghost of Christmas Present

My son was frustrated with an assignment to act out “Stave 3” of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Most of his class was going to create a skit of the scene between Ebenezer Scrooge and the second of the three spirits he would encounter, however my son was having a hard time getting together with his classmates to write and rehearse a skit.

I suggested, “Why don’t you make a cartoon?”  He looked at me like I was crazy.  ”Seriously,” I said.  ”I saw this really cool animation called ‘The Social Media Guru’ that was made using a website where you type the script, direct the characters, and it spits out a YouTube video!”   He was intrigued.  I pointed him to www.xtranormal.com and he was off to the races.

While the hysterical Social Media Guru video is NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR KIDS, my son’s assignment for his class is, and it is embedded below.

How have your kids used new technology tools for their class assignments?  Please let us know in the comments.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

Photo Credit: Jane – Fotolia.com

 

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Fun Online Christmas Activities with Santa

Santa ClausAs Christmas draws near, I thought I’d share some fun online sites you might like to share with your children this holiday season. Of course a quick Google search will yield you thousands of results, but here are a few I’ve enjoyed with my kids.

My 4 year old especially likes these. For him as a child that is growing up with on-demand video and the internet, it seems only natural to incorporate some of what Santa does online.

  • Countdown to Christmas features a daily video message from Santa, and a chance to ask St. Nick questions in real time.
  • Santa Update features daily “press releases” from the North Pole keeping everyone up to date on the days leading up to Christmas Eve.
  • Portable North Pole lets you create a custom video greeting from Santa featuring your child’s name, photo, and location, a sneak-peek at the Naughty/Nice List, and even an update on the toy the wished for.
  • Santa Live features live webcams from inside Santa’s office, and outside the workshop.
  • NORAD Tracks Santa is the granddaddy of them all and features real-time tracking of Santa, with video updates and a Google Earth option. You an also follow the Twitter Stream, Facebook Page, and Picasa Web Album. If you are an On-Star user, you can even get hourly updates in your vehicle on Christmas Eve.
  • Track Santa on your mobile device – Google Maps offers NORAD’s Santa Tracking on supported phones.

Merry Christmas!

Chris Webb is a book publisher, father, husband and geek, (although not always in that order) and often buys his kids Star Wars toys for Christmas so he can play with them. He blogs at ckwebb.com, and can be found on Twitter as @chriswebb.

(CC licensed image via The Sierra Club)

“Cast of Dads” Podcast Episode 2: Vaccines to Vacations…

cod-itunesThe Cast of Dads got together for our second Podcast and covered a wide range of geeky, fatherly topics.  Daddy Brad was out sick which got us off and running comparing notes on the Flu (regular and the H1N1 variety).

In this episode we talk about:

  • Sick Kids
  • H1N1 vaccines
  • Spring Break
  • Holiday travel with kids tips
  • When should a child get a cell phone
  • Mobile phone privacy
  • Microsoft Sync and the Ford Flex
  • Droid thoughts
  • iPhone Batteries & AT&T
  • The Quest for Sponsors

If you like Cast of Dads you can subscribe to the podcast feed.  Or you can listen to Episode 2 here.  Enjoy! (and please let us know what you think!)

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood.  The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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Daddy, Can I Read to You?

grinch01I’m in the middle of one of those periods where I look at my daughter, about to turn six, and am amazed. I guess I shouldn’t be. When I was five, I started reading Dr. Seuss books to my grandfather. When Trish was very young, she was reading and speaking two languages. Katie will turn six this month, and she is reading. Not just little words, either. She can sound out a very long word phonetically, and then her mind sort of CLICKS…she looks up and says the word.

We started out easy. Instead of me reading to her at bedtime as we’ve always done, she reads to me. She read “Go Dogs Go” and “Hop on Pop”. We were halfway through “I Wish I Had Duck Feet” when she decided on something harder. She is now reading me, a page or two at a time, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” This is a hard book. Just the word Christmas is rough for a six year old, but she’s toughing it out. Now she recognizes a lot of the harder words on sight, and even has mastered sounding out and being delighted by words that don’t exist, like ‘Grinchy’.

When she’s done, I’ve promised to read it all back to her with “the voices” and on Christmas Eve I’ll be reading “The Night Before Christmas,” hopefully to all the kids, young and old.

For now, though, my little girl is reading … and few things have made me more proud.

-DNW

Thoughts From A Future Dad

CC Nichole Manner

CC Nichole Manner

Why do I want to be a dad? It takes more than just being a father to be a dad. Know how many women have a biological clock? Well my male one has been ticking ever since I was a teenager.

I look forward to the day my kid falls down and breaks a bone and I am there to hold his hand at the hospital while it’s set. Being a dad isn’t just about the good moments, the first word, the A+ in school, learning to ride a bike, and graduation. It’s also about those less than stellar moments, staying up all night with your kid because he or she has a fever, being hated with the intensity of 1000 suns for something arbitrary and feeling all the emotion while not being able to do anything about it, the disappointing times when your child runs afoul of the law. I want all of that and more.

I want to be a full time dad through thick and thin, through the love and hate, the good times and bad. Don’t mistake me: there will probably be times where I truly will hate my children and question what type of demon-spawn I have birthed.  Sure as I am writing this there have been times when I’ve felt that same way toward my own parents. I know that regardless of what issue lies in front of us I will love and adore my children always and hold them above anyone else. That is what my parents do and have done.

Even with all of the above listed it doesn’t quite present the whole picture of why I want to be a dad. For me it’s a feeling, a primal urge. I’ll never be able to fully verbalize it, just know that I want to raise & guide someone who I love with all of my existence. If I’m lucky enough it will be a couple of someones.

Being a dad may not be the most glamorous job but I‘m sure that it’s the most rewarding. Until that day comes I’ll do everything in my power to make sure I’m more than qualified to be an A+ dad. And when the time is right I’ll show my kids this article to let them know that being their dad is what I’ve always wanted.

Have a Politically Correct Christmas

You probably have already wondered how a title like this makes any sense. In today’s world it probably doesn’t. Of those five words, there is one that seems to get the most attention this time of year, though not for the reasons that it used to. For some odd reason our culture has decided that, to be politically correct, the use of the word Christmas is somehow non-PC, which implies the term is offensive.

Wikipedia defines politically correct as a term “denoting language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social offense in gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, handicap, and age-related contexts.” Fair enough. So being politically correct seems to be more about exclusion than it is inclusion depending on which side of the fence you land on. It is more about homogenization than it is about being tolerant and accepting. That’s how I see it at least.

I have a suggestion for Dads of all shapes, sizes, religions, non-religions, racial / cultural / sexual orientations. Regardless of where you stand onwhether or not Christmas is an acceptable term, your kids deserve a clean explanation of what Christmas actually is and what it teaches. At that point, they can be open minded and make their own decisions about the political correctness of Christmas.

I tell my kids about all the various religious groups and what they believe or represent (to the best of my abilities, of course, because I am not an expert in much of anything). I feel that they then have a balanced view of the world that they live in as Christians (to the degree they even understand that part of themselves). There is a considerable amount of cultural vitriol out there that they need to handle due to their beliefs despite NOT being narrow minded, judgmental, homophobic televangelists themselves. Of course, in true PC fashion, many people immediately group them into that slice of the Christian faith, which is unfair. Rather than rail against it, though, my wife and I have simply decided to equip them for it. It’s better that way because we can’t stop that kind of judgment. We can just try to manage it.

So this year I would ask that you tell your kids the true Christmas story just to show that everyone, and I mean everyone, deserves a fair shake. I’m not asking you to adopt anything or believe anything I am just asking you to educate. If you don’t know the story, I would be happy to share it at your request. I promise I’ll behave.

Merry Christmas.

The REAL Expertise of the Child Development Experts

091806_pregnantI am convinced that all the child development books written by so-called “experts” are designed for the sole purpose of driving you insane.

Even though most of the books tell you there will be variances between children at different stages, and that every kid is different, they still group the chapters in such a way that effectively puts all the kids in one box. Last night I picked up one of the guides my wife has been devouring all year. After a few minutes, I was about ready to dial 911 and ask for an über pediatrician, stat.

There was a sample list of the types of things Lucy should be eating in a given day. 6 servings of this, 4 servings of that, a half-cup here, a quarter-cup there. I mentally added it all up and it seemed more like what Jabba the Hut would eat at Old Country Buffet. Of course the book threw in the ever helpful and obligatory, “Your child might not eat very much for some meals,” and “Your child may go through stages of only wanting to eat certain foods.”

Right. And how exactly am I supposed to get her to eat a bread truck’s amount of grain when all she wants to eat is shredded cheese again?

The extremes drive me crazy, and I question whether these books are of any help at all. Considering Lucy is my first child, I realize I am as far as you can get from an expert on child development, but it seems to me like she’s developing just fine. She’s not too fat and not too skinny. She’s learning new things, seems very curious, and previous doctor visits have indicated a full bill of health.

Since Lucy is starting to stand on her own, I got pretty excited when I read, “At this stage, your child may start pulling herself up on things.” It confirmed my suspicion that my little girl is quite the overachiever.

But the doubts quickly crept in when I read the following sentence, “Your child may also be solving algebraic equations by now.”

Yikes.

After about ten minutes on this literary roller coaster, I closed the book, put it down, and vowed never to open it again. Considering my wife reads this book regularly, I am surprised that she is not a complete basket case. As for me, I’ve decided to ignore the books and go with my gut.

Sometimes I think that’s the best thing we can do.

And right now, my gut is telling me that it’s high time for a trip to Old Country Buffet.

Jason Kotecki is a dad who also moonlights as an artist, author, and professional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a former kindergarten teacher) make it their mission in life to fight Adultitis and help people use strategies from childhood to create lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com and follow them on Twitter @kimandjason

Families, Apparently, Can Grow Suddenly

familyFor many years, I’ve seen my two sons only on alternate weekends.  I’ve hated the separation, but somehow that’s the hand life deals; you do what you can.  About a week ago, the world changed.  The boys’ mother passed on suddenly, and my household grew by two very smart, very polite teenage boys.  There are a lot of things happening all at once, and it’s on me to be the pivot point for all of it.  Have to help them find a way to deal with their loss – get them integrated into the family – make sure no one already here is in any way slighted – get schools, bank accounts, etc. handled…and at the same time, I have to keep myself on an even keel both at work and home.

It’s a lot to toss onto the top of an already crazed holiday season, and if this was all that was involved, it would still be a world changer.  It’s not.  When I picked up my boys to bring them home, I learned that, in some way, I have seriously failed.  The last few years of their life, they have been living under horrible conditions.  They had no water for two years and managed to find ways to keep clean and do well in school.  Their mother was not taking care of them…or their house.  They were pretty much on their own, and their mom was fooling people so well she still had her job as an ophthalmic technician until near the end.  It was, in a word, bad.  I don’t want to dwell on this, and I’m not going to look back at all the small things that should have clued me in on visits.  I’m not going to build up a lot of anger over something I can’t change, but I can definitely tell you that I’ve shouldered a mountain of guilt that will probably never leave me.

So…now I have a few short years.  Precious little time to be the father I was never given the opportunity to be, and to make up for the life they should have had.  I have a very big family now – five children, four of them teenagers.  My step-daughter Stephanie is in college, maintaining a 4.0 average, and is the most responsible adult in the family.  My step-son Billy is a budding web-designer and computer programmer.  My son Zach wants to be a theoretical physicist and, though his new school doesn’t offer it, is going to continue to study Japanese because he enjoys it.  My son Zane is the next artist in the family (Stephanie is an art major).  He plays guitar beautifully – both he and Bill are very good, mostly self-taught.  Zach plays the viola, and Stephanie is teaching herself piano.

That is the crew I have to help with Katie, our youngest, who will turn six in a few short days.  We are a December family, as well, so we have three kids with birthdays this month, and my mother – who is also living with us.  Zane and my mom are Christmas babies, and Katie is on the 22nd, so it’s all pretty tight, keeping birthdays and Christmas separate.

I suspect there will be many Dad-o-Matic moments in the near future, and I want you all to know I appreciate the advice, the reviews, the camaraderie, and the support this site offers.  Fatherhood is a lifelong commitment.  Here’s to a long life.

Setting Christmas Expectations

Preface: As a believer in Christ and one who celebrates a traditional American Christmas, this commentary is for readers who also celebrate the traditional American Christmas. My comments may not resonate with you other wise, and you may even find yourself disagreeing with me on certain points. This is what I believe, and would like to share.

Now is the season where parents boisterously talk about what they will be getting for their children for Christmas: “I’m getting little Joe a Play Station”, “I’m getting little Mark a Nintendo DSI”, “I’m getting little Susy her own iPhone”. As parents, we all have a desire to give our children everything they want. Often times there is no feeling more belittling than that feeling that you can’t compete with other parents, and give your children the most expensive gadget because you don’t have the money. Some parents will go into debt (or increase their debt) just to give their kids that toy that will make them the envy of the school. And when we are in that capable financial position, we tend to throw out basic concepts of moderation and frugality that teach our children that buying the latest and greatest really isn’t necessary and isn’t what Christmas is about anyway.

There is an important thing to remember: your children will love you no matter what you give them. Seriously, there is no need to feel pressured by the constant barrage of holiday adverts that tug at your guilt strings, and infuse that desire to give your child what ever they ask for Christmas.  Because if they truly understand the meaning of the celebration, they might just check them self, and have reasonable expectations for what they might receive.

Christmas Nativity - Photo Used By Permission freefoto.com

Nativity Scene - Used With Permission freefoto.com

I understand consumerism is what drives the economy (especially when buying Made in the USA), but I wonder what our motions and actions of buy & spend at will are teaching our children this time of year when we should be teaching them the reason for the season. We as parents, need to be setting the examples that were set by our parents and grand parents before us. We should be teaching our children that while it is fun to give and receive, Christmas is not supposed to be a consumer holiday. It is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus. If you consider yourself to be a Christian, but allow the focus of Christmas to be about the gift exchange and the parties instead of teaching who Jesus is, then you are simply contributing to the consumerism of Christmas. I ask you, how much time do you give to present exchanges and Christmas parties? Now, how much time do you give to telling the story of the birth of Jesus to your children during this special season? Have you taken Christ out of your Christmas?

About Charlie

Charlie Profit has been happily married since 1997 and is father to four wonderful children. He has Faith in Christ, is a Conservative Libertarian, and believes in limited government with free markets. He is a Talk Host, Podcaster and Blogger at www.charlieprofit.com. Charlie is a veteran broadcaster and owns his own broadcast and new media services company CAB Radio, coaching Internet Talk Hosts, podcasters and helping companies with their Social Media presence.

The Best Things About Fatherhood Are Free

Fotolia_18875491_XSMovies, bowling, pizza, arcades, museums, concerts, shows, Ice Capades, circuses, Chucky Cheese, Dave & Busters, ice skating, rollerskating, sporting events, shopping, pottery, fairs, carnivals, planetariums, aquariums, theme parks, amusement parks, skiing, go-carts…  There are no shortage of ways to spend money to entertain our kids, and spend we do.  As much as they have fun and enjoy these costly excursions, is that really what our kids want from us?

This weekend I went on two, hour-long walks with my oldest son.  We walked, we talked, I listened to him and asked him questions, and I listened to his answers and asked him more.  I gave him advice and encouragement and he gave me a tremendous sense of pride as he shared glimpses of the fine young man he has become.

Taking the time to walk, talk and listen with my son I realized that as a Dad I have been guilty of too often taking the easy way out and “paying” to entertain my kids, when all they really want is my time and attention.  They don’t really want to “go somewhere” or “do something” as much as they want to simply spend time with me, and have me really be there with them, giving them one hundred percent of my attention during that time. The most rewarding activity for them and me, is free!  I need to remember that more often.

Sure, time is money… but the time we really spend with our kids is priceless.

Agree?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

Photo Credit: © Metin Tolun – Fotolia.com

Life Lessons from City Slickers

The movie City Slickers (1991) was a successful comedy starring Billy Crystal but what I loved most about the movie is its many tender moments like the clips I’m sharing here. There are some great life lessons here such as the one thing lesson from Jack Palance or the Best/Worst day stories from Billy and his pals while riding and his amazing Career Day speech at school about growing up and growing old.

Enjoy!

Jack Palance teaches Billy about “The One Thing” (There’s nothing like bringing in the herd)

Here’s the Best/Worst Day ever stories (wonderful stuff from Bruno Kirby at the end, R.I.P)

Billy’s Career Day Speech

Announcing The “Cast of Dads” Podcast…

cod-itunesNo baloney, it was a lot of fun participating in the Sony DigiDad Project and I hope you enjoyed the posts here at Dad-O-Matic that were inspired by the Sony gear I was able to borrow and play with.  My kids and I particularly enjoyed our re-creating The Picture of Dorian Gray and creating a spoof infomercial for the Sony Vaio P mini laptop/ping-pong paddle.

While all the Sony Gear has now been returned, the connections made between the participating dads is going to live on in a new project.  The “Sony Dads” represent a great cross section of dad and personal blogs and we have decided to continue the conversation in a (hopefully weekly) podcast called the Cast of Dads.  We will cross-post our episodes at our respective blogs (in my case, here at Dad-O-Matic) and of course you can subscribe to the podcast at www.castofdads.com (and soon in iTunes.)

At launch there are five dads in our cast, and between us we have thirteen kids, so I suspect we will always have great stories to share.  In our “premiere episode” we talk about:

  • Artificial vs. Real Christmas Trees
  • Holiday decorating
  • Mixed religious household traditions
  • Shopping for Holiday presents
  • What our kids are asking for this year
  • The coolness of Lego

And of course we introduce ourselves.  You can listen to Episode 1 of Cast of Dads here.  We’d love to hear what you think, and hope you will follow us as the show evolves.

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood.  The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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None of the right books

In C.S. Lewis’ classic book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he introduces the unfortunate character of Eustace, whom he describes in the first line of the book, “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

Eustace, quite to his chagrin, finds himself in another world – the world of Narnia – and on a quest to the end of the world aboard a ship called the Dawn Treader. In one of his misadventures on this voyage, Eustace sneaks away from the crew while on an island and finds himself at the bottom of a cliff in the presence of something unknown. Lewis recounts:

Something was crawling. Worse still, something was coming out [of the cave]. Edmund or Lucy or you would have recognized it at once, but Eustace had read none of the right books. The thing that came out of the cave was something he had never even imagined – a long lead-colored snout, dull red eyes, no feathers or fur, a long lithe body that trailed on the ground, legs whose elbows went up higher than its back like a spider’s, cruel claws, bat’s wings that made a rasping noise on the stones, yards of tail. And the two little lines of smoke were coming from its two nostrils. He never said the word Dragon to himself. Nor would it have made things any better if he had. (pp 75-6)

Eustace had read none of the right books to prepare him for adventure. Indeed, he had read none of the right books to inspire the courage and honor that his adventure required. Rather, “He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools” (p9).

Eustace is the foil of Lewis himself, who says,

“I am the product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of the wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interests, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child land books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves.” (pp 211, About the Author)

Lewis, in turn, has bequeathed to us some of finest children’s fantasy in the English language, the kind that ennobles and inspires. The question for us as parents, and particularly as fathers, is whether we are raising children to be like Eustace or Lewis. Do we share books together that quicken the imagination, celebrate honor and inspire action? We may not have resources to line the walls of every room (and cistern!) with books, but in virtually every town and city there is a library filled with books for the borrowing.

If you’re wondering where to begin, I can suggest no better book in print than Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life, the second half of which is an annotated bibliography of great books for children, organized by age and topic. The author, Gladys Hunt, also keeps a blog by the same title, and she has graciously made the book list available online through Tumblon.

Graham Scharf is a father of two, and co-founder of Tumblon.com. He blogs at Essential Questions and produces a podcast series for parents of young children (and is currently re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia with his five-year-old). You can follow him on Twitter @tumblondad.

Rise of the Social Natives

I recently attended a session at PodCamp New Hampshire on “Digital Natives” and realized halfway through the discussion that my children represent the first generation of “Social Natives.” My son Jackson and I thought it would be nice to share an episode of our show “Two Dudes and One Camera” with the Dad-O-Matic community and give you our take on what the rise of the social natives may mean to society and the world as we know it.

Here is a short list of things we think will change. Please feel free to share your thoughts on what a new generation of social natives will mean in the comment section.

  • Friendships – Think about your first friendships. Most of them probably with other children from your neighborhood, church, school or maybe children of your parents’ friends. My son and daughter will most likely develop real friendships with kids who live nowhere near them. These friendships will be as real and genuine as any other.
  • Never Losing Touch – Over the years I have lost touch with many of my early childhood friends. A lot of them moved when we were still kids and the rest of us dispersed after high school. Sure social tools like Facebook have allowed me to reconnect with some friends but in most cases being separated for over a decade or longer has made true reconnection awkward. Social natives will never have to lose touch with friends simply because their moms and dads choose to move.
  • Schools – The long promised virtual school is possible today. How long will it be before parents are given the choice to enroll their social native children in schools connected via Skype? Children in an economically depressed area of the country will no longer need to be victimized by chronically under performing school systems. What happens to our inner cities when children no longer need to risk their lives to receive an education?
  • Business – By the time my children reach the age of 18 each of them will likely have a global network of friends. Can you even begin to imagine the disruptive businesses these kids will launch?
  • Geo Politics – Sure a country is defined by geographical borders but it also needs a common culture and political framework. There is an old saying that says “all politics is local” but will that be true when social natives take the reigns of power? Yes they will care about local services but only as much as it impacts their lives. If they no longer need a local school system to educate themselves and their children what other local concerns will rally their vote? How will nations interact when an entire generation of world leaders have been interconnected since they were children?
  • Entertainment - Jackson turned 5 today and already he is a prolific content creator. Each episode of “Two Dudes and One Camera” is 7 to 8 minutes long. When his friends and family watch his show that is 7 to 8 minutes in which they are not watching NBC. What happens when some of his other friends and family members start creating and distributing content? How will our society change when there is no longer a common entertainment experience from which we develop a sense of what is funny, what is sad or tragic, what is violent and what is meaningful?
  • Cultural Identity – The nature versus nurture debate is about to be put to the test on a scale previously unimaginable. What we believe and how we behave has historically been due in large part to the circumstance in which we were born. Until recently dissenters were either culturally isolated or eliminated. However, we now live in a world where it is becoming increasingly easier for us to find and connect with other people who share our interests and beliefs regardless of where we live. How will the world change when the social natives come of age with access tools that allow for insulation against those who are intolerant of their beliefs? What happens when angry children filled with rage have no barrier to connecting with other angry punks? The world is about to see the long tail applied to cultural identity and it will have massive implications on how our children live.

What other changes do you see coming? Are you kids social natives? Do you see differences in their lives as a result?

The Journey Episode 2: Attention To Detail

Here’s the next post in my journey – it is in part a response to Jeff Sass’ post

Upfront disclaimer: In this post I compare child raising to dog training.
Also, there is an appearance by the star of the show, Miles!

Here’s the video:

For those parents too busy to watch, here’s the summary:

The other day I was reflecting on how much work is really involved in raising a child and I realized that it’s much more than I had really been thinking. Here’s the gist…

* Everything begins with what you and your partner/husband/wife want for your child or children.
* This is then adjusted to fit the actual child you have (constant updates are necessary as your child develops so that you notice who they really are as opposed to who you want them to be). In other words, if you have a kid with no natural dexterity but who loves to sing and draw, you want to notice and encourage their natural strengths and proclivities rather than forcing them to ‘fix their weaknesses’. Those instead will come along in time.
* Add to those things a working knowledge of the stages of neurological development (here’s a very basic primer: http://humanoperatingsystem.org/progressiveparents/ages_and_stages.pdf)
* Once you have some sense of who your kid is, what you want for them and the basics of neural development, begin paying attention to everything they do and making sure that you give them clear yes/no signals keeping them on track for who they are becoming.
* Enjoy yourself

Devon White is a professional neurohacker and the lead developer of the Human Operating System. He is father to Miles. He blogs on Dadomatic.com about his journey as a father.

Deep Background

Nesting Danger Signs

My job requires a lot of travel. It’s a fact of life; in a way the balance of our marriage teeters on it. I have overheard my wife assert on many occasions that I am required to spend at least one night a week on the road so she can get the house fully clean. So, when our pediatrician recommended that I not leave town during my wife’s third trimester I completely misunderstood his serious tone for medical conservatism. It was one of those man-to-man warnings, but I was too naive to listen.

My wife Elaine is a beautiful, intelligent, competent woman who runs an efficient household if I don’t help too much. She is level headed and financially prudent, almost to a fault. For example, she issues me a single check that I fold carefully in my wallet. In an emergency I am authorized to use it, provided I report the location of the expenditure, its amount, and the purpose within 24 hours.  If I meet these requirements I am eligible for a replacement check. Each day I am on the road I offer my humble thanks to the genius who invented the ATM machine. I like to think he was a married man as well.

In honesty, I must point out that her fiscal conservatism is not entirely unwarranted. I am an excursion leader for the largest ecotourism operator in the United States. You have probably heard our motto: “We make eco-guilt fun!” The last time I was forced to use a check was off the coast of Africa. Using my satellite phone, I gave my wife my location on the island of Sao Tome that the purpose of the expenditure was to acquire ‘fully deceased, non-arachnid meals’ for a culinary- minded tour group, and the exact amount. This is documented clearly in the check’s memo field.

Unfortunately, I was never strong in math and made a minor mistake on the Dollar-to- Dobra exchange rate. I mean any currency that trades at 15,443.18 to the dollar is mathematically challenging for a former History of Consciousness major. Hey, I was only off by a decimal place! I thought the bank unreasonably inflexible when they bounced our mortgage, car and credit card payments.

Since then Elaine programs my solar calculator with the correct exchange rate prior to each trip. I am hopeful that I will qualify for another blank check by Christmas this year. Santa needs to keep at least one secret.

Pregnancy announced the first break in my wife’s unerring practicality.  I was leading a rather timid group of New Englanders across the Kushk River into Turkmenistan when she called.

“Guess what! The Laura Ashley Hey Diddle Border for the boy’s room is on sale!” She gushed.

“That’s great honey,” I responded as I navigated a rope bridge with my free hand.

“The only problem is we need to buy the comforter, which is full price, but don’t worry I’m saving nearly that much on installation,”

“Oh?” I said, my attention focused on a portly man whose weight and poor equilibrium threatened to snap the rope if he slipped.

“My mother is flying home to help me put it up,” she gushed. Ok,” I responded, a little unnerved by the fact that I was being consulted on something so clearly in Elaine’s domain. Since when was I promoted to the interior design committee? This should have been my first clue that she had entered the charmingly altered state of “nesting”.

Her mother flew in the following day; first grandchildren receive dominion within the extended family that their post scripted siblings will only imagine. After moving the unassembled and still packaged equipment from the room, the two women stopped to survey their historic task.

“It seems a shame to mount that beautiful border on this dingy wall,” the Nana-elect observed.  Why don’t I paint it a nice mystical blue?”

“We should!” Elaine responded.

“Not we dear,” Nana replied, patting Elaine’s belly affectionately. “No paint fumes for this boy. Why don’t you go buy some nice masculine baby clothes,” she suggested.

”Well I can at least help you tape the windows,” Elaine insisted. They spent that entire day protecting each strip of quarter-round, electrical outlet, light switch, plus the spotted aluminum frames of our 1950’s style rollout windows. They ate a hearty dinner before focusing on the room’s central light fixture, a squat unacceptable globe that hung to the ceiling like old bubble gum and concentrated light on the dust bunnies that lived in the corners of the room. Both women frowned.

“I’ve always imagined the baby’s room filled with light, so I could keep it completely clean and sanitary,” Elaine agonized.

“Then let’s get shopping,” Nana barked, and before you knew it, certainly before I knew it, they were stalking the aisles of Rooms-to-Finance. Those of you who think of power tools and lawnmowers as the instruments of home improvement will be horrified to see the military quality technology that is paraded before your starry eyed wives in the name of sanitary child rearing.

Ultimately they selected a ceiling fan light combination that could deliver wattage that included a hypnotic blue glow guaranteed to drive the coliciest baby into REM sleep, a daytime setting that produced all the endorphins of summer sunlight in gently swaying wheat and an emergency setting that would expose diaper rash better than a border patrol spotlight. The fan’s Breeze Mode was guaranteed to simulate a gentle outdoor wind while the turbo mode used an algorithm patented by NASA and JPL to simulate tornadoes that was guaranteed to suck diaper odors into the upper atmosphere. The price clearly reflected the potential of NASA’s commercialization efforts. An OSHA compliant air filter, an air iodizer and an Ultraviolet light filter certified to destroy anthrax spores completed the assembly.

The next day Nana painted enthusiastically while Elaine took bids on the installation of the light and the upgrade of our electrical system to handle the new peak load requirement. This completed, Elaine could not resist inspecting the progress in the nursery. The ceiling and one wall had already taken on mystic blue proportions.

“Mom, it’s beautiful,” Elaine cried tearing up.

“Honey, you shouldn’t be in here, look how the solvents are irritating your eyes,” her mother said as she hustled her out of the room. “I tried to ventilate the room but only one of the hand cranks seems to work and that window only opens part way.”

“I have always hated those windows,” Elaine replied, narrowing her eyes in fury. “Dan promised me he would replace them when we had the money but he never did. I don’t know how I can possibly keep the nursery sanitary without any fresh air.”

Which is how I arrived home to a crew of 3 jackhammers removing 4.5 inches of brick from the front and west facades of our home to accommodate our new Pella windows. When I asked why we weren’t just replacing the bedroom windows I was informed exactly how ridiculous that would look. I really had no idea how badly it would embarrass our neighbors and affect their property values if the front of our house was marred by mismatched windows. Fortunately the power was only out for 2 more days. I really do crave a warm shower after bathing in leech infested rivers for 2 weeks.

And just in case you remember how this started, I was the one who finally installed the Hey-Diddle-Diddle border after Nana’s flight. Elaine seemed pleased that I sang as I worked, and she was too distracted to listen to the words: “Nesting isn’t painless, it brings on many changes” to the tune of the MASH theme song.


Your Dream is NOT for Sale

Craig Valentine gives an inspirational 7-minute speech here that I just stumbled across. I have to say that I really liked what he had to say when it comes to going for your dream in life. He shares a great story about a monumental decision he had to make in his career between money and his dreams and his wife told him “Your dream is not for sale!” This is a great example of why our wives are known as The Better Half! I guess that’s why they get so mad at us husbands for not listening to them, it’s because they think we’ll miss out on some sage advice? I’m kidding of course but not really. I do think it’s important that we pay attention to our partners, especially when it comes to our career choices because every decision impacts the family in a tremendous way.

The other powerful part of this speech that will stay with you is when Craig talks about the things that prevent us from living our dream. It’s not the usual obstacles and hurdles we all know about, but something very surprising. He said the number one thing that stops us from reaching our dreams is the good life. He said sometimes having it too good prevents us from being great. “Are you too good to be great?” he asked. Being comfortable and complacent has killed more dreams than anything else ever has. Settling for good prevents us from greatness. Wow. What a different way of looking at things, huh?

Why am I writing about dreams and career choices on a dad blog? Well, it’s that time of year again when we all get reflective over the past year and we spend time planning for the new year coming up. This is the perfect time to evaluate our current situations and adjust our game plan in order to keep our ship headed in the right direction. Remember, as the man of the family, your happiness is just as important as everyone else’s. Are you living your dream? Are you being all you can be (sorry for the Army slogan)? If you’re happy and achieving the most from your potential then your family will also reap the benefits, not just financially but in so many other ways thanks to your happiness.

Also, this all reminds me of my favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart had big dreams to build giant skyscapers and bridges and go see the world, but he never achieved them. Still, in the end, he realized that he was living his dream after all, just a different one he never imagined he’d live. We need to realize that we might not be able to live the dreams of our youth but we can still make new dreams come true. Dreams that include your family. Remember, our wives have their own dreams too, as do our children. That’s why it’s important to communicate as much as possible. Also, there is strength in numbers, so working together can only help you and your family realize your dreams.

When Your Child’s Hero Falls

Tiger Woods is just the latest example of a sports star gone astray. Their face is peppered across all media outlets and the publicity is nothing but negative. As adults we know how to deal with this sort of disappointment. It doesn’t bother us much and after a few weeks or months we forget about it altogether.

For kids things can be different. Although kids naturally move between heroes or interests every few months, they think just as well of the heroes they had as the heroes they have.

Sometimes, You Can Just Ignore It

Maybe your kid’s hero did something which will blow over in a couple of weeks. Examples of this usually involve an instance of speaking before thinking. They’ll issue an apology for the horribly insensitive thing they’ve said and we all go on with our lives. Your child never has to hear anything about it and may not even hear anything at school.

Sometimes Your Child’s Hero Kills Dogs

If your kid’s hero is Michael Vick and Michael is going to go to jail for a while for his involvement in fighting, torturing and killing dogs you’ll have to bring this up with your child. If you don’t bring it up, your child will hear it at school or from the media at some point. They’ll also notice their favorite player missing from the field of play. It is important for you to build perspective before your child hears the story somewhere else.

Talk About The Issue, Not The Star

By starting the conversation with “Not everyone is nice to dogs” instead of “Your favorite Football player isn’t nice to dogs” you’ll skirt the tendency of your child to defend his favorite player. He will agree that everyone should always be nice to dogs, no matter what. Once your child understands how the issue is wrong, you can bring up his idol. Don’t be surprised by your child’s shock, instead be supportive and make sure your child understands why Vick is going to jail.

Promote The Second-Favorite

After your child has had a little while to absorb the shock of the news he will be sad. Whoever his second-favorite player is, bring him up as often as possible. “Did you see so-and-so’s interception the other night? That guy has hands made of magic!” Even if your child doesn’t switch to his second-favorite, at least this trick will take his mind off of his fallen Idol.

The Rest Is Up To Them

Unless your child has follow-up questions about the issue or the player, you’d be best served by dropping the issue. In the end your child will make up his own mind about both.

Nothing about this is easy. If you must have this talk with your child make sure you are prepared to be patient and understanding. Children deal with disappointment in very different ways.

Danny Grubb lives in Seattle with his wife and twin girls.  He is the founder of GladDads.com and believes that every Dad has a story to tell and knowledge to share.  When he’s not blogging or parenting, Danny enjoys putting random items in unsupervised shopping carts.

The First Rule of Fatherhood: There Are No Rules!

NO RulesUnlike FIGHT CLUB, when it comes to the rules of Fatherhood, it is ok to talk about them freely, especially here at Dad-O-Matic.  But are there really any rules of Fatherhood, or Parenthood for that matter?  I’d argue that there are no rules except for one: Never do anything that could harm or endanger your child.  Outside of that, it seems that there are no hard and fast rules for being a good dad.  Certainly when our kids are born they do not come with a manual or FAQ. Sure, there are books and magazines we can read and videos we can watch and web sites we can visit, but I think that most dads just go with our guts.  We each approach fatherhood from our own unique perspective, taking cues from our own childhood experiences, as well as our own personalities and points of view.

VIVA LA DIFFERENCE

One of the great things about a collaborative blog like this one is that you, the readers, get the benefit of peeking into the minds of a varied group of dads at various stages of fatherhood, careers, marriage, and life in general.  We are a motley bunch who rant and rave about the things that irk us, and rave about our kids and the things we like.  We share things that make us laugh and things that make us cry.  We share our challenges and our triumphs, and most of all we share our passion for being a dad.  Our common bond is our greatest responsibility and the source of our greatest rewards – our children.

LEARN, BABY, LEARN

As I have spent 21 years writing my own Dad rulebook in real time by raising my kids, it is humbling how much there still is to learn from others.  As much as I enjoy writing for Dad-O-Matic, (thanks Chris and Pai for the opportunity!) I also greatly enjoy being a Dad-O-Matic reader, and having the opportunity to compare and contrast my views and experiences with the other dads and with all of you through your comments.  In particular, lately I have been fascinated by the fatherhood journey that Devon White has begun to share here, as it introduces a take on parenting that I was completely unaware of when my kids were the age of Devon’s son Miles. Judging from the comments to his posts, many of you find “Intentional” parenting interesting as well.

What do you think?  Are there any rules of Fatherhood that you abide by?  This is not FIGHT CLUB so please do talk about it in the comments!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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Happy What?

Holiday Wreath

It’s that time of year. The holidays, Christmas, Chanukah and more are celebrated. Bright lights, holy symbols, and wintery decorations galore. It’s also become the season where folks no longer greet people with naming the holiday.

Parenting is tough. There are tons of things you want to teach your children. Tolerance should be at the top right? Well I’d like to take a stance and tell you that ignoring holidays, especially religious ones, isn’t showing tolerance, it’s showing fear.

Raising my boys in a Christian household, we’ve always celebrated Christmas. The birth of Christ is what it means for us. Beyond that though, this season represents a time of love and caring. My wife and I did our best to teach our sons love isn’t how you feel, it’s how you act.

I’m blessed in my adult life to have friends from not just a Christian background but Jewish, Muslim, and even atheists. I want my family to be as loving and caring to them as anyone else. So I’ve been teaching them, and my friends I hope to give up avoiding religious greetings but instead return them with gusto.

When someone greets you with Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah, it’s not about them forcing anything on you. It’s about that person sharing a blessing with you. Teaching your children this is far better, in my opinion, than teaching them to avoid that greeting.

Your son may not hear it from his teachers, or the store clerk, but that’s no reason to not encourage him to say it himself. As long as your child is saying it in the spirit of love and sharing of joy, then it’s not an attack. Likewise, when a friend says Happy Chanukah to him, your son will respond with ‘and also to you, and Merry Christmas.’

Help your children along this path to tolerance this year by not just reminding to great others kindly and in kind, but doing other things as well. Take them out to purchase appropriate cards for their friends of other faiths. Teach them to accept those same cards with joy and honor.

Also, consider making time for you and your child to learn about other religions. What they believe in relation to what you believe will open may doors for discussion. A perfect opportunity will be manger scenes, menorahs and more.

This year the granddaughters and I are going to play dreidel. I received one as a gift from a Jewish friend. They’ll just take it as a fun game, but I’ll be able to share a bit of culture along the way.

What will you be teaching your children this holiday?

Todd Jordan is a father of two boys, now men, and grandfather to three lovely girls. He writes on his own blog, The Broad Brush, and can be found on Twitter as tojosan.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Phil Vassar’s wonderful song “Just Another Day in Paradise” captures the feeling most of us dads have but more than likely never express so eloquently. Its message is so pure and so simple, yet so profound. Even when things appear messy and chaotic and things don’t go the way we planned them (they rarely do), we still need to stop and appreciate all the blessings in our lives. Nobody ever said paradise was perfect. Life is still beautiful even when it feels disorganized and like a runaway train. It’s all part of the process… the highs come with the lows. Such is the yin and yang of marriage and family life. We can’t lose sight of the big picture when the pixels get all blurry for a second or two. Stay focused on all the joys that you are blessed with, not just this time of year but all year long. Sit back and enjoy the ride on the crazy train of life.

Andy Andrews Says 50 Things Dads Say in 60 Seconds!

This is funny stuff. Andy Andrews shares 50 things that his dad said to him as a kid in blazing speed!
It reminds me of the amazing Mom Song that we featured on here before.

Here they are:

  1. You’d better change your tune pretty quick or you’re out of here.
  2. I mean it.
  3. Is that understood?
  4. Don’t shake your head at me.
  5. I can’t hear your head rattle.
  6. Don’t mumble.
  7. You act like the world owes you a living.
  8. You’ve got a chip on your shoulder.
  9. You’re not going anywhere looking like that.
  10. You’re crazy if you think you are.
  11. If you think you are, just try me.
  12. I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
  13. Other kids don’t pull stuff like that.
  14. I wasn’t like that.
  15. What kind of an example do you think you are for you brothers and sisters?
  16. Stand up straight.
  17. Don’t slouch.
  18. Would you like a spanking?
  19. If you would like a spanking, just tell me now and we’ll get this thing over with.
  20. You’re cruising for a bruising.
  21. I’m your father and as long as you live in my house you’ll do as I say.
  22. Do you think the rules don’t apply to you?
  23. I’m here to tell you that they do.
  24. Are you blind?
  25. Watch what you’re doing!
  26. You walk around like you’re in a daze.
  27. Something better change and change fast.
  28. You’re driving you mother to an early grave.
  29. This is a family vacation.
  30. You’re going to have fun whether you like it or not.
  31. Take some responsibility.
  32. Pull your own weight.
  33. Don’t expect other people to pick up after you and don’t ask me for money.
  34. What do you think I’m made of money?
  35. Do you think I have a tree that grows money?
  36. You’d better wake up and I don’t mean maybe.
  37. Do you act like this when you’re away from us?
  38. We’ve given everything we possibly could.
  39. Food on the table.
  40. A roof over your head, things we never had when we were your age.
  41. You treat us like we don’t exist.
  42. That’s no excuse.
  43. If he jumped off a cliff would you jump off a cliff too?
  44. You’re grounded.
  45. I’m not going to put up with this for another minute.
  46. You’re crazy if you think I am.
  47. If you think I am just try me.
  48. Don’t look at me that way.
  49. Look at me when I’m talking to you.
  50. Don’t make me say this again.

Believe It Or Not: A Review of Ripley’s Latest Book

blue_baseball

I was recently given a review copy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Seeing Is Believing.

The problem is, I’ve never done an official review of anything before.

I guess the first thing to determine is my unit of measurement. That seems to be the thing that really brands you and makes you popular, ensuring that more people will send you free stuff. I’m pretty sure Siskel & Ebert came up with the thumbs up/thumbs down thing. Rotten Tomatoes uses, um, tomatoes. And I don’t know who came up with the star system (I give this 4 out of five stars!), but I’m sure he must be making a lot of bank these days.

While thumbs, tomatoes and stars are all very good units of measurement, since I specialize in things that are childlike, I’ve decided go with marbles. They’re timeless, and everybody knows that marbles are cool and more is better. My top rating will be five marbles. Not four, because that seems too limiting, but not ten because that seems too nuanced and I sometimes have a hard time making decisions.

Now that I’ve got that cleared up, I’ve got to figure out what exactly am I basing this review on. That’s a big factor, after all. Some of the most entertaining movies of all time (I’m looking at you, Dumb & Dumber), would never be given a shred of critical acclaim or Oscar buzz (mainly because the Academy is stifled by Adultitis).

Again, I feel my area of focus requires me to overlook technical merits, production values, and the sorts of things that would make Strunk & White giddy. Quite simply, you get five marbles if your book/movie/product does an exemplary job of decreasing Adultitis and inviting the inner child out to play.

Finally, on to the review. (This is a lot of work!)

ripleys_bookHere’s what I can tell you about Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Seeing Is Believing:

There are pictures. Lots of them. (And in color, too!) For instance, there’s a picture of a dude with a watermelon being blown off the top of his head by his rifle-weilding brother. Pretty cool, huh? Then there’s the three-year-old that weighs 142 pounds, a pesron with eight toes on one foot, and a guy with a thumbnail almost five feet long. And I mustn’t neglect to mention the picture that shows New Zealand shepherds competing in a race in which they must bite into bulls testicles and carry them with their mouths for 65 feet.

Perhaps you’ve been wondering about that blue ball in the photo above. Is it a giant jawbreaker? An asteroid from another planet? A kidney stone from the world’s largest Smurf? Nope. It’s a baseball. Covered with 17,000 coats of paint. Here’s the story from Ripley’s web site which features book extras:

Every day since 1977, house painter Mike Carmichael of Alexandria, Indiana, has applied at least one coat of paint to a regulation baseball. More than 17,000 coats of paint later, the initial 9-in (22cm) circumference has ballooned to more than 104 in (264 cm), and the weight of the ball has increased to 1,100 lb (500 kg) making it the world’s largest ball of paint. Mike lets a guest of honor paint every hundredth coat, and has kept detailed records of the many colors of the ball’s layers. The ball has now grown so big that he has had to build a special room in his house just to store it.

Aside from all the photos, the book is jammed with tons of unbelievable crazy factoids:

• In 2006, 104-year-old Wook Kundor of Kuala Berang, Malaysia, married her 21st husband–a man 71 years younger than herself.

• The body of a 32-year-old man from Mindoro Island in the Philippines was recovered inside a 23-ft python in 1988.

• Dave Nunley from Cambridgeshire, England, has eaten nothing but grated mild Cheddar cheese for over 25 years and goes through 238 lbs of it every year.

This book reminds me of an old copy Guinness Book of World Records I used to own as a boy. I remember marveling at the grainy black-and-white photos of the dude with the world’s longest beard and the fat twins riding motorcycles. This book is like that one, but on steroids. I’m not sure it would make a good coffee table book, but it’s definitely a swell bathroom read.

It’s also a fun one to share with your kids, especially boys who are currently captivated by all things gross. It does a good job arousing curiosity and challenging our assumptions of what’s possible. One caveat: due to the extreme nature of some of the contents, you may want to steer clear the little ones.

Unless you want to get into a discussion about bull testicles with your three-year-old.

All in all, I know my inner child was delighted. In reading the book I was simultaneously amazed, shocked, disgusted, and utterly horrified.

Sounds like a five-marble book to me.
5-marbles

Jason Kotecki is a dad who also moonlights as an artist, author, and professional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a former kindergarten teacher) make it their mission in life to fight Adultitis and help people use strategies from childhood to create lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com and follow them on Twitter @kimandjason