5 Ways To Be Prepared When Mother Nature Roars

When I was a kid, there was a series of commercials for “Chiffon” margarine that had the tag line, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”  Lately it seems that perhaps we must have been trying to fool her and now Mother Nature is seeking her revenge and proving her prowess with a daunting display of disasters.  Earthquakes, blizzards, hurricanes and tornadoes are just the tip of the melting iceberg.  What’s a mere mortal human being to do?  In all seriousness, the Boy Scouts had it right when they made their motto “Be Prepared.”  There are many things in life that we cannot prevent, and the sudden seeming wrath of Mother Nature is one of them.  But we can do our best to be prepared, and keep our families prepared for the unexpected “force majeure.”  Inspired by a recent recording of the Cast of Dads podcast, and my own experiences with Hurricanes living in Florida, here are…

5 Ways To Be Prepared When Mother Nature Roars:

1) Portable Power – An unfortunate side effect of many natural disasters is the loss of power.  When Hurricane Wilma struck my neighborhood, we were without electricity for almost 2 weeks.  You quickly learn how reliant we are on electricity.  Having multiple sources of portable power in your home is a must. Options include generators and lots of batteries.  There are many battery chargers that include USB or 12-Volt plugs so you can use them to charge your mobile phones and other devices.  The problem with batteries, however, is that they have to have a good charge to be worthwhile, and they lose their charge over time when idle.  Therefore it is important that “emergency” batteries are replaced with fresh ones periodically, and that battery charger devices are regularly plugged in to refresh their charging abilities.  It goes without saying that multiple flashlights are an essential need, and I have found that having a few self powered (wind or shake) flashlights really come in handy as the “battery” issue is no longer a worry.

2) Reliable Communications – While we all rely on our mobile phones for just about everything, there is a good chance you won’t be able to use your phone reliably after a natural disaster.  If the networks are not directly affected, there will be extraordinary high call traffic, making it hard to get a connection.  Try text messaging if you cannot get through for a voice call as you may be more successful with the data network.  Also, as you want to conserve battery life, you want to keep voice calls short and to the point.  Eventually, you may no longer have use of your phone if the battery dies and you’ve exhausted your charging options, so it is important to have other ways to get information and find out the status of the emergency.  I have found a wind-up (crank) emergency radio to be extremely useful.  They are inexpensive and functional.  I have one that has AM/FM/Shortwave Bands as well as a USB plug to charge other devices.  I have a second one that has dedicated weather radio bands, and a built-in flashlight.  Not only are these radios great for finding out the latest news and other reports when the power is out, but you also need to keep everyone relaxed and entertained, and a little background music from the radio goes a long way to give a semblance of normalcy to an awkward and quiet powerless home.

3) A Family Check In Procedure – Of course disaster can strike at any time and therefore it is possible that you and your family members may not be together when Mother Nature goes ballistic.  As parents, our greatest fears are when we are away from our children, so make sure you and all your kids (or their schools and caretakers if they are too young to do it themselves) know what the family emergency check in procedure is.  Assume that you may not be able to just call each other.  Therefore you should consider establishing a reliable relative or friend in a different State or part of the country that can be the point person.  Make sure all your family members know multiple ways to contact the point person – home/office/mobile phone, email, text message, social networks, etc. – and let everyone know that if they can’t reach you, the next thing they should do is contact the point person, and let them know their status.  Of course the point person can also reassure everyone about who they have already heard from.  Another good idea is to have an agreed upon meeting place away from your home in the event your home is inaccessible. (Note to self: refresh this program with my own kids!)

4) A Plan For The Pets – If you have pets they are part of the family, so a family emergency plan has to include your fine furry friends.  If you have multiple pets and multiple family members, you might assign each person a particular pet that they are responsible for watching over and/or evacuating in an emergency.  Have proper crates, carriers and leashes easily accessible and it is probably best to keep pets contained during the crisis, as they are every bit as frightened and concerned as you are.  When Hurricane Wilma struck, we kept our three dogs and cat contained in a bathroom, and while their howling added to our stress, we knew exactly where they were and that they were safe.

5) Food & Water – It is always a good idea to have an ample supply of water in the house.  Stick a case of bottled water in a closet or in the garage and forget about it.  If you have 5 gallon water bottles delivered, make sure your regular order is for a few bottles more than your family actually drinks so you always have a few “spare” full bottles.  A stock of canned goods seems like a good idea, but keep in mind that you may not have the ability to heat things or boil water.  Take a look in your pantry and cabinets and see what foods you have that are not perishable and are “ready to eat” without cooking or boiling water.  Stock up on more of those.  Peanut butter, dried fruits and nuts and power bars are all good things to have “extras” of at all times.

These are just a few of the basics and I am sure there are many more important tips for being prepared.  Please add your own tips and suggestions to the comments and together we can turn this post into a useful resource for parents and families.

Most importantly, especially for parents, do your best to remain calm and provide your children and family with the support, confidence and leadership they will most certainly need when Mother Nature strikes.

NOTES AND DISCLAIMER: Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those affected by the earthquakes in Haiti and now Chile.  If you are so inclined you can donate to the Red Cross here.  Also, some of the links to products in the above post are Amazon Affiliate Links.  Any affiliate revenue generated by the links in this post will be donated fully to the Red Cross.

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: © victor zastol’skiy – Fotolia.com

Class Act

Clemson
Here’s a news item about a tragedy that has a silver lining thanks to the University of Clemson and its football coach Dabo Swinney. High School football star Jake Nicolopulos had a dream to play college football for the Clemson Tigers and it was all set to become a reality until he had a stroke that now requires him to learn how to walk and talk all over again. It appeared as if his lifelong wish to be a part of the Tigers would never happen now.

Not until coach Swinney and company decided to honor Jake’s commitment to Clemson and proceeded to make their offer anyway. Somehow, despite the difficulty in even holding a pen, Jake signed the contract and his dream came true. Just like that. All because of a class act named Dabo Swinney and the fine institution called Clemson.

I heard this story while driving into work this morning on 790 the zone as they interviewed coach Swinney and it moved me deeply. What a wonderful display of humanity that put things in perspective. I’ve always liked Clemson (because my wife graduated from Clemson and played in the Tiger band) but now I’m an even bigger fan. Now that’s a man I would love any of my sons to play football for. Incidentally, my wife Lori also worked as a rehab nurse at Spinal Sheppard Center in Atlanta, GA where Jake is rehabbing.

Here’s more information about Jake and this heart-warming story.

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Photo credit: Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

Cast of Dads #10: Walking The Line Online

At the opening of this episode you will hear a promo for The Boom Effect, an auction and fund raiser for fellow dad and good friend Tee Morris who recently lost his wife.  Tee will be raising his little girl known as “Sonic Boom” on his own, and the Podcasting community has been very supportive with contributions and events such as this auction. The Cast of Dads encourages you to donate and help in any way you can to assist in making sure this little girl has what she needs as she grows up. Tee, our thoughts are with you!

This week the Cast of Dads faces off with Facebook as we talk about the challenges of raising kids in a digital world.  How old (or young) should kids be when they start using Facebook?  Does everything really end up on your “permanent record?”  These are just some of the things we cover in this episode:

You can listen to Episode 10 here.

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes. Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

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.

The Gift of an Ordinary Day


Here’s an excerpt from Katrina Kenison’s wonderful book “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” that totally captures the beauty and power of being a parent, for both moms and dads. I loved what she shared here because it’s something that I realized a long time ago. It isn’t really all the big important events in our children’s lives that we will miss the most when they grow up but all those little moments that most of us take for granted. I try my best to take pictures and videos of the routine day to day things that we don’t usually notice because I know I will miss them so much some day. I call them little slices of life.

My kids are 11, 7 and 4 now. I still have time to savor many more of these magical extra-ordinary days but I also know that they will fly by in a heartbeat. I remember when my big Nicholas (11) was born and I could hold him in one hand…but now he’s almost as tall as I am! I also remember when Rachel (4) was this little pixie baby but now she’s this little lady so full of questions and strong opinions already (I know where she gets that from!). Then there’s Matty (7) , whom we called Peanut because he was so tiny but now he’s a dynamic little man full of life and wonder. I love each stage for all its worth but I also miss the ones we leave behind forever. I even miss the things we get rid of such as the cribs, the high chairs and changing tables. All part of the process of letting go… but I am still hanging on for dear life as long as I can.

Please watch Katrina as she shares this portion of her book. It truly says it all. I want to thank my wife Lori for finding this treasure and sharing it with me…along with those 3 little angels we spend our ordinary days with. For more of Katrina’s insightful musings subscribe to her blog: http://www.katrinakenison.com/ordinary-day-journal/

They Say Truth Hurts, But Lying Is More Painful

LIAR.  It is a four letter word that can be far more hurtful than other familiar expletives. This is especially true when the liar in question is someone you love dearly and completely.  As parents we spend our lives hoping to instill in our children a sense of truth, trust and responsibility.  We teach them right from wrong, good from bad, love from hate.  More than anything we want them to grow up to become good people, and good people don’t lie.  Good people are trustworthy.

Kids Will Be Kids, But Is That An Excuse?

This week one of my kids was caught in a lie, a bad one.  Granted it wasn’t something life threatening or irreparable, and some might argue that it it was the kind of thing that “kids do” (especially teenagers and young adults). I’d argue that the activities and behavior that were lied about may be “typical” of the age and times, but for me that does not excuse the lying.  For me, nothing excuses a breach of trust.  For me, losing that trust in my child was a very painful slap in the face.

It Is Broken, Now Fix It!

As a parent, it is relatively easy to devise ways to punish our kids for bad behavior.  From “time outs” to “grounding” to docking allowance and temporarily restricting various privileges we have an arsenal of punitive parental ploys at our disposal.  However, there is no punishment I am aware of that in and of itself will restore my faith and trust.  That is something only my child can do on their own behalf.  That is something my child will have to work hard at, over time, for trust is not something one can restore with a single action, like the wave of a magical wand.  Trust must be earned, and regaining lost trust is even harder than earning it in the first place.

Perhaps that is why lying, exposed, is so painful.

What do you think?  How important is your ability to trust the words of your children.  What are the best ways for a child to regain their parent’s trust?  I know that time is on my side, and in the end my unwavering love for my child will make it all ok in the long run, but right now it is not the truth that hurts, it is the lie.

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: © Takus – Fotolia.com

“In Today’s Climate . . . “

“…You can’t be too careful.”

These were the words of a somewhat strident middle-aged lady at Dungeekin Minor’s ‘football’ training session on Saturday, as she vocally and agressively demanded to see the (female) coaches ‘paperwork’.

The trouble is – I rather think you can be too careful.

When you’re not the parent, and you turn up at week five of a six-week course for 4-year-olds, and you behave with such suspicion, you don’t look like you’re acting in the best interest of the child. You look like an idiot with chronic knee-jerkitis.

Especially when said session is attended by all the other parents, all of whom are within sight of all the children for the duration of the session YOU’VE just cut short with your paedospicion.

Reality check. Despite the railing and screeching of both Government and tabloids, not everybody who has even tangential contact with your child is a predatory paedophile, desperate to deflower and subsequently devour your little angel. Surprisingly, at a nationally-accredited and franchised kids’ club and with the parents supervising, your little boy’s somewhat more likely to learn football than fellatio.

His innocence is safe with the football coach. Sadly, however, with a relative such as this the child’s innocence is somewhat less secure within the family.

Children need to grow up learning to be safe, that’s for certain. They need to learn, as they mature, that there are people and things that are a risk to them and how to verbalise their concerns if they have them.

All that acknowledged, though, they still learn to be able to trust.

Everyone is a stranger at first. If you teach your child that any non-familial adult is a rampant kiddy-fiddler, then quite aside from skewing their sense of risk-awareness they will learn only to treat every adult with suspicion.

Have you considered how this will affect their long-term ability to develop relationships? Is their ‘protection’ in childhood worthy of potential damage to their adult life?

Because the way I see it, the attitude of the lady in question has the potential to be no less damaging to the child’s long-term development than the actions of the very individuals from whom she wishes to protect him.

Food, Glorious Food??? Are We Feeding Our Kids To Death?

(NOTE: usually my posts here are written originally for Dad-o-matic.  That said, I recently wrote on my personal blog about Chef Jamie Oliver’s impassioned and impactful speech about childhood obesity at the recent TED conference.  I realize that Chef Oliver’s speech would likely be of great interest to the Dad-o-matic crowd, so with permission from myself, I am reposting it here.)

My infatuation with TED continues.  I have yet to watch a TED Talk that I haven’t found thought provoking and inspiring.  It is really some of the best content you can find, and it is free!  I have written before about Natasha Tsakos and Philippe Starck‘s amazing presentations.  If you want a deeper understanding of the TED conference, Robert Scoble has written an insightful overview.  This year’s TED just took place and according to reports, one of the highlights was Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver‘s passionate talk on obesity in America.  He shares some shocking and revealing statistics about how our fast food nation is literally eating ourselves to death. As someone who can certainly afford to lose a few pounds I need only to look in the mirror and at many of the people I see day in and day out to recognize that Jamie speaks the truth, and how far we have lost our way when it comes to diet and food.  What do you think?  Do you and your family cook fresh food on a regular basis?  Do your kids know how to prepare a meal using “real” ingredients?  Are these basic skills our fast-paced, over processed society has left undone?  Food for thought…

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.

Panties and Business

sad potty pic

On Thursday my middle child Abby decided she was ready to wear panties. She had a hard time on Thursday but when I put her to bed Thursday night she said “Daddy can I wear panties to school again tomorrow?” So on Friday she did better and then yesterday when we were all home she did much better but was still having a few accidents.

My oldest daughter turns to us, Melanie (my wife) and I, and said, “I think we need to put her back in diapers.” Both of us responded “no” and I followed up by saying “there is no option but success now.” It only took a few minutes to hit me that this isn’t just an approach to potty training but rather needs to be an approach to life and business.

If you take “there is no option but success” and apply it to business, then can you ever really stop trying, can you ever really fail? Yes there are plenty of failures along the way. Sometimes you get almost all the way to the potty but have that accident just before you reach it. Sometimes you think you’ve got it and you’ve made it to the potty three times in a row but then you’re way deep in the middle of watching Caillou and all of the sudden the rush comes too quickly. But if there is no other option but success then you recognize that it’s okay to fail along the way as long as you don’t lose sight of the end goal.

I think we as adults forget this principle way too often and allow for the option of failure. So I suggest next time you feel like you are on the precipice of failure take a step back and look at the end goal and remember failure is part of achieving success. After all, you do wear panties to work don’t you?

Kevin Metzger is father to Haley, Abby and Isaac and husband to Melanie. He is a Business Systems Architect and writes on tech and business topics at MetzgerBusiness.com. Kevin also writes MySpellingSucks.com for which he was awarded the 2009 East Cobber Father of the year. Recently Kevin has started TheDADvocateProject.com where he is looking for participation from dads to help write a book about this current generation of dads. Come by and fill out the DADvocate survey.

Photo Credit – massdistraction

Cast of Dads #9: Pausing For Valentine’s Day

The Cast of Dads gathered early on Valentine’s Day to catch up and compare notes on our romantic plans for the day.  Despite a few pregnant pauses as we contemplated Cupid, we managed to cover a wide range of topics, from our daughters dating, to the pleasures of power tools.  Here is a complete rundown of what is discussed in this week’s show Valentine’s Day show:

You can listen to Cast of Dads Episode 9 here.   You can also subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes.  Also, if you have been enjoying the show, please let your friends know and leave us a review in iTunes!  Thanks for listening!

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.

Valentine’s Day Reborn With Meaning

heart pancakesYesterday was Valentine’s Day, and while Jeff has provided some great ways to avoid disaster today, I wanted to talk about why I didn’t really start caring about it all, until our oldest daughter was born.  It’s not that I’m not a romantic, quite the contrary.  I think it’s more that, like most men, I hate being told what to do.  I much prefer to give my wife flowers on a random Wednesday, for no reason other than it makes her happy, than because the calendar and a florist advertisement says I have to.

I’m not stupid. My wife and I celebrated Valentine’s Day before our daughters were born. I always remembered a card, and flowers, and sometimes we would go out, and sometimes I would cook.  It was always at least a little bit under protest though.  It was always because it was easier to go with the flow than take a silly stand against a “Hallmark Holiday.”  I looked at it as a good excuse to remind my wife how much I love and appreciate her.

You see, she loves holidays.  All of them.  That became really obvious after our kids were born.  She makes a big deal.  She gets decorations and balloons, and makes sure the house looks special, and our kids love it. Whether it’s a birthday, or New Years, or yes, Valentine’s Day, they know it’s a special day as soon as they wake up and step out of their room.

The great thing is that I enjoy them a lot more now too.  Like today, when our six year old came into our room and couldn’t wait to show us what she wrote on the card she made for her sister.  She picked out a Dora card with stickers, because her little sister loves Dora (and stickers).  Seeing how much she wanted to make today special for her little sister, the way her mom does, was one of those moments that make parenthood worth all the , well, you know.

I can’t help but get into the act. Some heart shaped pancakes were just the thing to kick off our Valentine’s Day.  I can tell you that making them meant more to my wife than buying flowers ever could.  So yes, my wife and I will let each other know how much we mean to each other, and maybe even have a romantic dinner, but our life hasn’t been just about us for some time, and today is no different. It is so much better.  It has so much more meaning.

Ian is the father of two young daughters (6, and 2).  He  has a podcast and blog about starting a business while raising young children at Startup Daddy.

5 Ways To Avoid A Valentine’s Day Massacre!

It is Valentine’s Day!  Time for everyone to get their heart on!  For us Dads it is one of those days (like birthdays, anniversaries, the day you and your significant other met, etc.) that is best not forgotten.  There are many ways to recognize the day and reveal your romantic side, and like most things in life, the best ways to show your love and appreciation and look more Cupid than stupid is to keep things simple and sincere.  With that in mind, here are…

5 Ways To Avoid A Valentine’s Day Massacre:

1. Flowers – Yes, a rose by any other name is still a rose, but giving a flower by any other name on Valentine’s Day ain’t gonna cut it.  Of course a dozen (or two) is best, but even a single long stem, elegantly and lovingly presented, goes a long way.  While roses come in a literal rainbow of colors these days, this is the one occasion when RED is a must.  Any roses are better than no roses, and in order of preference you can get your roses a) delivered, at a surprise location, by a florist, b) at your local supermarket, c) at a roadside stand, or d) cut, secretly, from the bush in your neighbor’s yard.

2. Phone – If by some chance you are not with your Sweet Valentine today, make sure you call her before she calls you (and if you haven’t already, stop reading this and do it now!). Make the call all about her, and how much you appreciate having her in your iife, etc. etc. etc.  This is the one day when you can’t get too sappy, Even if you are with your Valentine today, use the phone to reach out and touch the other women in your life.  Valentine’s Day is a great day to call moms, mothers-in-laws, sisters, daughters away from home, and tell them you love and appreciate them.

3. Food – It is no surprise that little cherub Cupid is on the pudgy side. From chocolates to breakfast in bed to dinner at a favorite restaurant, food is a wonderful way to nourish the heart on Valentine’s Day. For many guys, our preferred thing to make for dinner is a reservation, but as Digital Dad CC Chapman recommends, Valentine’s Day is also a great day to don the apron and actually cook for your better half.

4. Words – Cards are great, and they come in all shapes and sizes and now they even talk and play music, but don’t leave it to Hallmark to make a real impression on your Valentine.  Whether you are a Shakespeare or not, today is the day to put a few sentiments in your own words.  If you are adventurous, write a poem (Haiku is easy and elegant).  There is no such thing as bad original poetry, especially on Valentine’s Day.  Give it a shot, and whatever you choose to do, make sure your words are hand written!  Do not type and print them!

5. The other 364 Days of the year – And of course, the BEST way to avoid a Valentine’s Day massacre is to not let today be the only day of the year you behave this way!  Flowers, sweet phone calls, food and words are ways you can be expressing your love and appreciation all year long.   Sprinkle them unexpectedly into your routine to keep your Valentine smiling all year round.  Do that, and every day can be Valentine’s Day!

If you have some additional tips. please add them in the comments.  In any event, Happy Valentine’s Day!

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: © AlienCat – Fotolia.com

Refresh Project

pepsi refresh Here’s an amazing project from Pepsi called the PEPSI REFRESH PROJECT where they will spend millions of dollars to fund ideas that we submit that have a positive impact on the world and planet. It’s such a wonderful concept and makes a great deal of sense because not only can we submit our ideas but we also vote on the best ideas submitted. The winners get the financial support they need in order to contribute something good to the world. Such a win-win deal for us all. Pepsi gets their good PR exposure (well deserved in this case), good people get the monetary assistance their project needs and the world benefits from it all.

Do you have an idea that can bring about change for the good? There are several categories for idea submissions and different levels of funding from $5K to $250K. Download the project toolkit and share your idea and you never know! Don’t forget that Pai sent ya! :)

Life’s Little Traffic Jams

We bought our daughter one of those little primary-colored push car toys for her first birthday. It gets great gas mileage and holds up amazingly well in crashes, of which there have been many so far.

The other day, she got herself caught in a traffic jam. The legs of our counter-height kitchen table and its accompanying chairs gridlocked her into a standstill. With all the might a one-year-old can muster, she pushed and prodded that car in an attempt to break free to the open road.

To no avail.

My initial instinct was to jump to her rescue and free her from her dilemma. But I could tell she was close to doing it on her own, so I decided to stay put. Her frustration level mounted, but I kept my distance. It was hard. Finally, with one last exasperated twist, the car untangled from the last chair leg and she was free.

And let me tell you, the beaming glow of pride on her face melted my heart like a Snickers bar in Scottsdale.

This foray into Fatherhood has taught me a lot of new stuff about God. This particular scenario gave me some insight about how he operates.

We all have rough patches in our lives, moments when we get stuck in the weeds. Things aren’t going according to plan and we’re stuck. Adultitis gets the better of us. We work our butts off to make the situation better, but nothing seems to help. After exhausting all of our resources, our frustrations mount. Perhaps we cry out to God to save us. He certainly can, and sometimes he does. A check shows up in the mail. The idea to solve a perplexing problem presents itself, seemingly out of thin air. We find the thing we had given up hope of ever finding.

But sometimes he doesn’t step in to save the day. Sometimes he’s silent.

Even though I often wish he would step in and make things easier for me, I’ve come to see that he has the wisdom to know that sometimes we have to go through difficult situations in life in order to come out stronger, better, and more confident on the other side.

And I believe that nothing makes him smile wider than seeing us accomplish exactly what he knew we could do all along.

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

Cast of Dads #8: Winging It For The Superbowl

Despite the siren song of beer and wings calling in the distance, the Cast of Dads set aside time on Superbowl Sunday to record an episode: “Superbowl Sunday With The Cast of Dads.”  While the talk quickly turned to football, some of us – er, me – revealed we are I am not as up to date on my sports as I am on my gadgets.  (For example, it was only during the big game that I realized the Colts were no longer the “Baltimore Colts” of my childhood…)

Fortunately for me, football was not the only topic of discussion in the show.  Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Superbowl and are we sports fans?
  • Tequila
  • Wives who love sports
  • March Madness
  • Sunday Night Jitters
  • Oklahoma vs. Texas
  • Young Cyrus lingerie line? (after the show it came out that it was false)
  • Kids growing up too fast
  • Teaching kids to read as babies
  • Potty Humor
  • An open invite to Kevin Smith to come on the show
  • Mom stereotypes
  • Swearing in front of kids
  • Kids swearing
  • Music Lyrics
  • The Barbie Song
  • Controlling what is watched on TV
  • Age differences
  • C.C. Chapman iPhone App
  • HighTechDad iPhone App

You can listen to Cast of Dads Episode 8 here.   If you have been enjoying Cast of Dads, please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes.  Also, don’t be shy…  go ahead and please leave us a review in iTunes!

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.

Favorite SuperBowl Ads

We men took more than our usual bashing during the 60 or so commercials played during SuperBowl Sunday. We deserved some of the mocking but come on already, Madison Avenue. It’s time to give us men a little more credit, don’t you think? Still, I enjoyed the funny ones as much as the next guy. Here’s one of my favorites. Please share you favorites in the comments.

What is a DADvocate?

Shortly after the iPad was released Jeff Sass wrote a great blog about iDad. iDad is a great parody on the value of a dad over an iPad and a fun little read. There is another great DAD moment that was captured in a post last night Who Dad published by Doriano “Paisano” Carta. Last year we saw a dad at a Phillies game catch a foul ball, hand it to his daughter who through it back and she got a huge hug (stupidly MLB pulled video). We even have dads who crawl into cribs to help their children go to sleep.

All these folks are DADvocates! A DADvocate is basically a dad above all else and everybody who contributes to or reads this site exhibits the qualities of DADvocateness!

DADvocates are a new generation of dads and I don’t think we have a great definition but I’ve undertaken a project to help define who we are and I need your help to complete the project.

The DADvocate Project consists of three phases:

  1. The Survey – this is an in-depth look at who you are and what you do. We discuss how much time you spend in the various areas of life including, family, finances, work, physical fitness and much more. We are publishing survey results as we go. You can read about the survey results in various posts on this blog.
  2. Interviews – The interviews will be the second phase of the DADvocate project. Interviews will go in-depth with some of the participants of the DADvocate survey. We will talk about experiences growing up, College, and work. We will ask about the best moments you have had with your children and how you spend your time trying to be the best dad you can be.
  3. Book – The final part of the DADvocate project will be a published book that tells the story of who we (dads) are and why we give all we give to being a parent, how that includes our work and our responsibilities to our wives and ourselves.

The DADvocate project could use your help. We need your input in the survey and interviews. We need participation from dads across the country and world. If you are would like to help please come over to TheDADvocateProject.com and complete the survey. If you would like to learn more about the project feel free to email me at kevin [at] metzgerbusiness [dot] com.

Finally to help provide incentive to participate in the survey we are running a series of contests. The contest this week provides the participants an opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift card and an entry into the grand prize drawing for an iPad. The survey is 60 questions and you do have to leave an email at the end of the survey to be entered into the contests.

WhoDad

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Congratulations go out to the New Orleans Saints for beating the Indianapolis Colts tonight in the SuperBowl 31-17 behind the MVP arm of Drew Brees. I was happy to see them win mostly because of everything the people of New Orleans went through a few years ago with Hurricane Katrina. It’s such an amazing story.

The thing that touched me the most wasn’t how happy the players were or even the fans who went crazy in the streets… it wasn’t even the extreme joy in Drew’s face as he was holding the SuperBowl trophy. It was seing Drew Brees with tears in his eyes as he held his son Baylen Brees amidst all the madness. Being a dad, I was moved instantly by that moment that he’ll never forget.

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Teaching Kids To Share In A Digital Age

Many moons ago, when I was just a mere tike, when my Mom and Dad taught me to “share” they were mostly trying to get me not to explode in a hissy fit when my younger sister or one of my playmates wouldn’t let go of my Legos or give up my G.I. Joe. Life was so simple then… Toys and games were physical things we kids could touch and feel and pull apart and throw against the walls or step on to break. Today, in our increasingly digital world, “sharing” has taken on a meaning much larger than letting friends play with toys.

Images Can Shape Your Image

Today, even from a very young age, our kids have access to the tools to be creators, and to share their creations with their friends and beyond. There has been some good discussion here and here about the perils of sharing too much online. As a parent, there is much concern, and rightly so, about the nature of the images and information our kids are sharing in their digital playgrounds. The flipside, however, is to encourage our kids to share plentifully and appropriately.

The Age Of The Ubiquitous Camera

When I was a kid photography was a very special hobby that, for the most part, required expensive equipment and costly development and printing. Wasted images were wasted money, so a typical kid did not have the opportunity to dabble in “taking pictures” until they had saved up some of their allowance money and demonstrated a certain level of maturity and responsibility. Even the so-called “instant” and “disposable” cameras had developing costs and usage limitations that inherently made them not particularly kid friendly. In the days of film and rolls of 12, 24 or 36 “exposures” every image counted, and parents on a vacation budget couldn’t necessarily spare a few bad shots on the whims of a child photographer. These are entirely foreign concepts in today’s digital world, where even toddlers can play with (kid friendly) digital cameras; almost every mobile phone is also a camera; and thanks to inexpensive and readily available digital storage (including “the cloud”) the perceived cost of taking a picture is zero, and the amount of images, good or bad, that one can capture is virtually unlimited.

Sharing Is Creativity Unleashed

Our kids are growing up in a world where everyone and anyone can create and share in ways that were barely dreamed about a decade or so ago. As a parent, it is enlightening to see how effortlessly our kids have stepped into this world and how digital sharing is second nature to them. I was recently reminded of this when my older son, 21, had a picture he took of his truck published at an enthusiast and parts website, Edge Products.  As part of the Sony DigiDad Project I had a Sony A330 DLSR on loan for a few weeks. I let my kids use it as well and the first thing Zach did was run outside and take pictures of his truck (which, understanding the nature of the relationship between a guy and his wheels, didn’t surprise me at all). What did surprise me is that, without missing a beat, he assumed he would be able to share the pictures, and not just with his friends on his Facebook page.  He immediately started posting and emailing his pictures to Auto and Truck sites, and “pitched” his pictures to editors by email.  Why not?

No Magnets Or Refridgerators Required

As much as we may cherish the crayon scrawled drawings posted in our kitchens, today our kids’ creations can instantly and easily spread way beyond the refridgerator door.  They can be emailed to grandparents and posted to websites for all to see.  Today when we teach our kids to share, they are potentially sharing with the world.  There has been a lot of talk about the potential for negative outcomes from such open sharing, but what about the positive?  How exciting it is to live in a time where the tools for creating and publishing are so readily available to anyone, of any age.  Think of the power our kids have to spread their voice as compared to what we had at their age.

How does that change the way we teach our kids to share in a digital age?  Please share your thoughts 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: © Nikolai Sorokin – Fotolia.com

E*Trade Baby Outtakes

Here’s just a quick comedy break… hilarious stuff

I’m a dork just like my dad

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I don’t talk about my dad too often, actually this is my first post where I’m acknowledging him. Unfortunately he has had severe depression for the last 10 -15 years and he hasn’t dealt with it. Three months ago after my son was born it finally got in the way of our relationship and we are not currently speaking. This hurts me and is not really by my choice but it is what it is and it does not take away from the fact the my father was a great dad while we were growing up. He was a doctor and he was busy, but he was there for us and present when he was with us. I never felt neglected and I loved, and love him very much.

This said my dad is definitely a dork, not in a bad way but like me. He was into stereo electronics, was somewhat of an audiophile, and was a general hobbyist with things like electronics. He was however a little slow in moving to a computer but finally bought an Apple IIC that we had for years, actually until I went to college.

There are many things I remember about that computer but two things stand out.
1) My dad’s amazement at: what it could do, how relatively inexpensive it was even though it was extremely expensive, and his fascination taking it out of the box and putting it together. We discovered it together. I was old enough to help put the wires in the right places and really helped him figure out where things went and how to plug them in.
2) The other thing I remember is the computer didn’t have a hard drive.

It’s the lack of hard drive in the first computer that inspired this blog. That and remembering my experience with my dad. I bought a 1 terabyte external hard drive from WalMart last night for $99. I’m completely blown away that I have the much storage in such a little box and it only cost $99. When I first started working 1Tb of data was about $10,000. This is just one of those things that hit me. It’s kind of the inverse of my Dad talking to me about the movies when I was a kid.” I remember when movies cost $0.05″

I wonder is it odd that the hard drive struck me as more amazing than the iPad?

Kevin Metzger is father to Haley, Abby and Isaac and husband to Melanie. He is a Business Systems Architect and writes on tech and business topics at MetzgerBusiness.com. Kevin also writes MySpellingSucks.com for which he was awarded the 2009 East Cobber Father of the year. Recently Kevin has started TheDADvocateProject.com where he is looking for participation from dads to help write a book about this current generation of dads. Come by and fill out the DADvocate survey.

Photo Credit Dale Cruse.

The Expiration Date on Christmas Toys



Do you remember when the Christmas toys were new and exciting, even after Easter? Those were the good old days when a favorite toy lasted beyond the current TV season.

Like many parents, I try to get gifts each Christmas that will have staying power. Invariably, some of the toys don’t live up to the hype. They break. They lose their luster. They become yesterday’s news. But every year a few make it through Christmas break and beyond—even all the way into February.

This year’s winners so far are the lovable, ever-annoying-but-somehow-cute Zhu Zhu Pets. My 8 year old has been playing with them nonstop for six weeks. Today we exchanged a defective one at the store and she jumped up and down and giggled like it was Christmas all over again.

As an adult I realize there can be only so much appeal built into a bar of furry plastic with a reversible engine and sound chip, but I don’t tell my 8 year old that. She’ll grow up all too soon enough. In the meantime she’s going through the same process I did as a child as she bonds with toys and creates memories.

I imagine it was the same for us as children. Some toys lasted forever in our hearts and others didn’t make it through Christmas Vacation. When I strike gold with a toy I am so relieved. It makes the headaches of Christmas fade away for me, and let’s me know I’m doing alright as a Dad.

Now if only my teenagers’ “Zhu Zhu Pets” were as inexpensive.

Cast of Dads 7: More On Morons…

This week the Cast of Dads took a step back from tech talk and focused our discussion on more fatherly pursuits, thanks to some feedback and suggestions from our listeners.  We appreciate getting your feedback on the show and if there are specific topics you would like for us to tackle let us know in the comments here or at Cast of Dads or please send us an e-mail.

As usual, we covered a lot of ground, and finally admitted that at one time or another, we were all morons!  In this episode:

You can listen to Cast of Dads Episode 7 here.  If you like what you hear, please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes.  Of course, we won’t complain if you also leave us a review in iTunes!  Thanks for tuning in!

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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Children Giving Back

This is my first post as a new dad contributor to Dad-O-Matic and it is about giving back.

Where do kids learn to be so compassionate for others? Usually from their parents in most cases but not in this particular situation.  I have three kids and my oldest child Sabreena is very into one particular charity called Charity Water.  Charity Water is a non-profit organization that brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations by giving 100% of the money raised to fund projects.

My wife and I are into volunteering and giving our time to others but we are not huge into making financial contributions to charities.  Sabreena on the other hand has volunteered her time for school activities as well as makes financial contributions to charity.  What makes this so interesting is she is only 14 years old.  My daughter has no job and her only source of income comes from allowance that we sometimes give her as well as Christmas and birthday money.

Sabreena’s birthday was in January and all she wanted was for her friends to make a donation to Charity Water In her name.  How selfless is that? I see most teens want iPod’s and new cell phones but not my daughter.  She would rather give her birthday money to a charity to provide drinking water to others who really need it.

Sabreena has taught me a thing or two about being a better person and helping others.  If more people were like her the world would be a better place.

Family Ties

I just watched this 88-second spot and it really got thru to me…loud and clear. Thanks to Zane Aveton (aka @zaneology on Twitter) for sharing this tonight. I hope it impacts all of you the same way it has for me. What a powerful reminder.


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When Life Gives You Lemons…

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Lemonade
is a documentary short that delivers a powerful message. It focuses on several advertising professionals and how they dealt with the shocking impact of being laid off. Many of them looked at this sometimes devastating blow as a wake up call and chose to go for their dreams and do what they’ve always wanted to do. The stories each of them tell are touching and inspirational whether you’ve been in their shoes or just stuck in a dead-end job. They are living examples of the old adage of when life gives you lemons, make lemonade (and make a comfy living while you’re at it). I love their slogan, “It’s not a pink slip, it’s a blank page”.

One of the subjects, Erik Proulx, launched a new blog called Please Feed The Animals which has become popular and helps others who find themselves in the same boat he was in. His story was very moving, especially what his wife did during a critical point in their lives. It brought home the importance of your support system from loved ones.

I think this is an important film for everyone to watch, especially us dads because men are so strongly connected to what we do for a living. Right or wrong, we are identified by our profession in our society. It doesn’t matter what we think we are or what we love to do in life, most people will label you according to the job you perform. For example, he’s a lawyer or he’s a carpenter and so on. This is why it’s so critical to find a way to follow our bliss and do what we love and love what we do but that’s another story for another day.

Here’s an article from FastCompany that covers how Erik used Twitter to recruit an entire team of volunteers that helped him make the movie. They also managed to get large organizations such as Sony and Virgin Atlantic to donate resources such as camera equipment and free flights. It’s amazing display of ingenuity and determination.

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They have a cool website, LemonadeMovie.com, where people can upload their own lemonade story and how their lay off led to their rebirth. As a side note, the filmmaker himself was inspired to make this film, website and book after being laid off. Here’s the Lemonade Movie fanpage on Facebook and their twitter account:

Here’s the trailer (video resume) just to whet your appetite

The entire movie is on Hulu and embedded below.