Happy New Year From The Cast of Dads! (and Dadomatic)

As 2010 and another year (and decade) wind down, the Cast of Dads got together to squeeze in one last show for the year.  In this eposide you will hear about CC making bacon, Max blowing off some steam, Michael musing over MacAllan, Brad blowing glass, and me… ? Well, you’ll just have to listen to the show to catch my year-end thoughts.

On behalf of all of the Cast of Dads and the Dadomatic team, we want to thank each and every one of you for making 2010 a great year, and we send you and yours all our best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 38.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

  • Happy 2011
  • Knee High Boots
  • Thigh Highs
  • Wonder Woman
  • Scotch
  • Shake Weight
  • Do “As Seen on TV” items ever make good gifts?
  • Surviving the holidays
  • Vacation week bed times for kids
  • The Digital Babysitter
  • Technology gift for kids
  • My First Bacon
  • Angry Birds Addiction
  • Model Steam Engine
  • Getting the kids to EXPERIENCE more
  • Life Trumps School
  • Museums, aquariums & other great gift memberships
  • Amazement of Glass Blowing
  • Gifts we gave our wives & girlfriends
  • What is THAT, dental floss?
  • Feelings at the end of the year
  • Last year of our lives?

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, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

Photo Credit: © Barbara Helgason – Fotolia.com

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25 Years of Christmas

I stumbled upon this amazing video on YouTube by Spoonito who shared home movies that his dad took of him and his sister over the span of 25 years during Christmas time. The dad recorded his son and daughter coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to open their presents from 1985 to 2009. There are a couple of years missing in the stream for some reason and the daughter’s boyfriend joins the tradition later on, but the experience really captures just how fast time flies.

Are you recording and documenting your precious memories? I sure hope so. It doesn’t have to be the same thing this dad did but as long as you’re taking photos or videotaping your family on a regular basis, at least for big events and occasions then I think you’ll be grateful you did. So will your loved ones.

If you want an easy way to capture and share home movies then you should checkout Pixorial.com which offers a new online service that makes it kind of fun too. They’ll transfer just about any format from film to video and hosts the footage online where you can create playlists of the footage you want to share and then send the link to family members and friends. It’s pretty slick.

Here’s Robert Scoble talking about it and interviewing the founder of Pixorial.

Toys Aren’t Us: 3 Reasons My Wife Will Never Shop At Toys R Us Again

We’ve spent our last Christmas shopping at Toys ‘R Us.

Beth came home this year and, holding a receipt in her hand, declared, “I’m never shopping at Toys R Us again.” She went on (I’m transcribing in the first person):

1) That partial refund debacle. I had a Toys R Us credit card and would earn points for every dollar spent.

When I used those points to make a purchase, if I had to return something, they would only give me the value of the dollars I spent, not the full value (including the value of the points).

I wouldn’t let the store pull that crap on me. I stood there saying, “Let me talk to the manager.” And when he showed up, I said, “It’s illegal to do this. That’s my money. You need to refund me for the total purchase. If you want to turn the points into a store credit, that’s OK, but it’s my money.” They did this to me twice (and I did get a full refund both times).

I later found out there was a class-action suit about this and I got a few pennies back. I think they don’t do this any more but it was the first straw.

2) Returns. Toys R Us wasn’t taking returns without a receipt – including returns of their private-label brand – clearly marked Toys R Us. Finally, a few months ago, they changed their computer systems over (like Target) to be able to reverse look-up purchases based on the credit card you hand them. But the fact they wouldn’t take their own private label stuff back? I mean, c’mon! That was the second straw.

3) Online purchases. I made an online purchase from toysrus.com and, even WITH the receipt, they would only give me an in-store credit stating, “Online is a separate entity from retail.” I said, “Not to the customer it isn’t!”

I said, “Either you make this right for me or you’ll lose me as a customer. I’m done with your ‘policies.’ Your policies are not customer-centric.” They STILL wouldn’t give me my money back!

Beth’s Brilliant Get-Her-Money-Back Trick

Not about to put up with that bullshit (my words, not hers), my brilliant wife devised this plan.

She had already bought something else at the store that day. She returned it. And re-purchased it with the online store credit she reluctantly received.

So there, Toys R Us.

Good luck selling to someone else. We’re done with you.

Love,

:: Joe and Beth Hage ::

P.S. Yes, I know the title says “my wife” instead of “we.” That’s because Joey doesn’t do the shopping. Think of it as a division of labor. It works for us.

Thinking Outside “The Man Box”

Man, I love TED. I have used many TED videos as the inspiration for blog posts here on Dad-O-Matic and on my personal blog on several occasions and given the depth and breadth of the content from TED and TEDx events, I suspect this won’t be the last.  This time TED has inspired a more manly post… or not.  As the father of a daughter and two sons, I have given much thought to the role model I must play for my children as it relates to their gender and I try to do my best to not let my firsthand familiarity with the male mindset influence me as the parent of a girl (well, young woman now…), especially as she has been the lone female in the house for a number of years.

The video below from TED WOMEN is a pretty raw talk by Tony Porter, co-founder of the nonpro?t A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women.  I had never heard of the concept of  “The Man Box” before, but I am certainly aware of some of it’s contents and I’d like to believe that my own views and behavior are very much outside of this box.  More importantly, I hope that the views, beliefs and behaviors I have instilled upon my two sons will mean that they will never go anywhere near the thinking that is inside this box…

Unfortunately, I have met men who appear to still live inside The Man Box.  I just hope they stay away from my daughter!

What do you think?

. 

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

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Happy 1st Birthday Cast of Dads!

A little over a year ago I joined forces with four other dads and we launched the Cast of Dads Podcast.  The five of us, all with kids of varying ages, first came together thanks to Sony and the Sony DigiDad Project, and we got along so well we wanted to “keep the dream alive” so we started the podcast.  Now, a year and thirty-seven episodes later, we are as goofy and discombobulated as ever, filling each (almost) weekly episode with a virtual cornucopia of topics, from the ridiculous to the sublime, and everything in between.  We are sincerely grateful for all of you who have listened to our gabfest, and hope you have found tidbits of entertainment and value in our jib jab.

As we celebrate our first year of the podcast and the end  of 2010, on behalf of all of  the Cast of Dads I want to wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 37.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

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, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

Photo Credit: © Ruth Black – Fotolia.com

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Happy Holidays And Tree-Cutting

I grumbled when my 8-year-old wanted me to take her to one of those tree-cutting places. I grumbled more when the woman said it was $60 for the privilege of doing all the labor ourselves. I’d set out to buy a Charlie Brown Christmas tree (you know the type, right?), and I couldn’t see myself pay sixty bucks for that. So, as all parents do, we altered plans.

Violette and I went out to saw down our own tree, so I caught (almost all of) it on film. (There was a little issue of her accidentally not recording the actual sawing.) Here’s the video.

And a Happy Holidays to you from me, my family, and from the gang here at Dad-o-Matic. I’ll let Jeff and Pai and others say it their way, but I wanted to add to the chorus.

Will The Real Santa Please Stand Up?

‘Tis the season when red and green are the new black, and the “holiday spirit” permeates all things commercial and otherwise.  If you are politically correct, then almost all salutations, spoken, written, or otherwise are readily sprinkled with “HAPPY HOLIDAYS.”  If you are politically direct, then, at least this week, it is “MERRY CHRISTMAS.”  I am Jewish, and now that the Menorah is back in its box, I am perfectly happy to enjoy the trees and the lights and the wreaths and even the occasional mistletoe.  I am also perfectly happy to say, MERRY CHRISTMAS to someone, and even happier when someone says MERRY CHRISTMAS to me.  That is because for me, Christmas is not so much a religious holiday as a state of mind.  It is has become an extension of the introspective warm and fuzzies that start with Thanksgiving and end at year-end on New Year’s Eve.  It is during this proverbial “Holiday Season” that we are finally free from the go, go, go, get, get, get mentality of the rest of the year and at last have explicit permission to be a little sappy.  This time of year it is okay to be reflective and appreciative. It is okay to be helpful and giving. It is okay to say “I love you” and “thank you” a lot, and to a lot of people who touch your life.  Of course it should always be okay to do these things and they really should not be reserved for the last five weeks of the year.  Unfortunately, many of us, myself often included, keep these emotions and their expressions in check most of the year, boxed up along with our lights, ornaments and Menorah’s…

Bah Hamburger…

I used to be a regular Scrooge come Christmastime, muttering “Bah Humbug” under my breath and frowning my way through my seasonal melancholy with an irritated demeanor that would have made Chuck Dickens proud.  In recent years, however, I have seen less of my inner Ebenezer and more of my Santa self.  I have watched my kids become young adults and grow beyond the age when they were in awe to wake up and find half-eaten cookies and a half-filled glass of milk as proof positive that indeed Santa had squeezed through our chimney and left all those colorfully wrapped gifts under the tree (yes, my kids grew up in a “mixed” household and we celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas).  I can fondly recall when it was my turn to wear the rented Santa suit and offer entertainment (and my lap) to my kids and nieces and nephews, using my best stage voice to give them a hearty, bellowing, “Ho, ho, ho!”

The Santa Clause…

I miss those days when my kids were young enough for Santa and Christmas to be more magical than commercial.  When we could dangle the notion that there really is a Santa and the concept teetered precariously on the edges of their belief.  Now, as I am older and presumably wiser, and as my kids have long since wised up to the fictional tricks of St. Nick, I have come to the realization that Santa does indeed exist.  I am Santa, and so are you!

Will The Real Santa Please Stand Up?

As parents, we are all Santa, and like Santa in his North Pole workshop, we too, are working at being Santa all year long.  As Santa, we must monitor and guide our kids from naughty to nice.  We keep our lists and remind them of their great moments, and the moments that need some work.  We offer our laps to our kids freely as a place of comfort, consoling and encouragement.  We shower our kids with gifts all the time.  Sometimes in the form of Christmas-like packages, but more often our gifts come in the form of constant love and support, doing it all to provide a happy roof overhead and food on the table every day. We ride our modern mini-van sleighs through the neighborhood, and always do our best to bring cheer to our children when they are most in need of it.  We may not have long white beards, reindeer and elves, but we have the holiday spirit in us to be a good Santa all year round. It’s what parents do.

What do you think? Are you a real Santa too?  I hope so, and send you and your family best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season, and of course a Merry Christmas too!

“Ho, Ho, Ho!”

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

Photo Credit: © Ivan Bliznetsov – Fotolia.com

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Celebrating With A Sweet 25 Year Old: Cast of Dads #36

Last week one of the Cast of Dads, C.C. Chapman, was celebrating the release of his new book, Content Rules (Affiliate Link) and I saw him tweet,

Laura just brought home a sexy 25 Year Old to help us celebrate #ContentRules

Well, before you let your mind go right to the gutter (as, of course, mine did), in this week’s show CC reveals the truth about his new 25 year old companion (and the picture below gives it away).  As always, we cover a lot more than fine Scotch as the dads start winding up for the Holiday Season.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 36

Topics discussed in this episode include:

Pop Rocks & Scotch?

CC's Favorite 25 Year Old!

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, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

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The Best Christmas Present Is…

A while back, I ran across this dad who draws on paper bags for his kids during his lunch break. Pretty neat stuff.

But he’s also used his creativity (and a box cutter) to elevate the humble cardboard box into an even more awesome structure of play.

Even neater.

Which leads me to think about Christmas morning, and how after all of the presents are opened, and the living room looks like the Death Star’s trash compactor, the thing you’re most likely to see your kid playing with is a cardboard box.

Indeed, it seems as though one of the best Christmas presents of all time is the box that originally housed what was intended to be the best Christmas present of all time.

But why? Why are kids so smitten with it that in 2006, it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame?

Because it leaves a little to the imagination.

It seems like more and more of the toys aimed at little kids is cheap plastic crap made in Asia somewhere. Multi-colored. Battery-operated. With blinking lights and annoying sounds that make you want to remove your ears with a chainsaw. Unitaskers all, these toys pretty much dictate how they are to be played with. Push a few buttons, yank some levers, and the fun is done.

And my little Lucy, who just turned two, is very interested in that stuff.

For about three minutes.

The stuff that really captivates her are the the things that leave a little to the imagination.

Like blocks. Rubber balls. And cardboard boxes.

Easier to come by than a Tickle-Me-Elmo or a Cabbage Patch Kid back in the day, the best part about a box is that it costs about… a box.

Keep this stuff in mind as you plan for what has the chance to be the best Christmas ever.

My point is not to suggest that Santa just wraps up a bunch of empty boxes for our kids, but that we remember that the best toys are the ones that lead our kids to the open door of possibility and let their imaginations take it from there.

And that’s neat-o-riffic.

The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass (and the fires it starts)

As a kid, do you remember the time you took a big old magnifying glass and used it to concentrate a beam of sunlight to try and start a fire?  More often than not, the object of your makeshift laser weapon – a dry leaf, a slip of paper, or, if you were really daring, an unlit match – would start to smoke a little, but to get it to light up took a lot of time and patience. Along the way you probably yelled “ouch” a time or two, as you stuck your own hand under the bright beam to see if it really was getting hot.  As a parent, you likely repeated this experiment with your own child one sunny afternoon when they reached that wonderful age of wonder and you came across that old magnifying glass that’s been in the drawer forever.  You used the simple rules of refraction to simultaneously teach your kid multiple lessons about science and safety.  About how something seemingly simple and accessible can also become something powerful and potentially dangerous.  It is a lesson we must continue to teach our kids today, because they are regularly using the world’s biggest magnifying glass.

The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass: The Internet

While reading this article in the New York Times in their continuing series on Cyber Bullying, I was reminded that the real problem with the online world that is so increasingly intertwined with our kids’ evolving social lives is that they don’t understand that the Internet is not just a vast and easy information and communications platform for their giggles and gossip – it is in fact The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass!  Forget Texas, everything is bigger on the Internet.  Everything is amplified on the Internet by the simple fact that once something is posted online it is at the same time so easy to spread and so hard to remove.  The dumb remark that would be quickly forgotten in the school yard of yesteryear is now instantly spread to hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook pages by the time a kid realizes, “gee, I probably shouldn’t have said that.”  There is no easy way to retract or redact, so childhood inexperience and innocent stupidity quickly becomes painful fact.  The Magnifying powers of the Internet can fuel more fires and burn more friends and relationships faster than any concentrated bit of sunlight ever could.

Magnify The Examples

The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass is not partial and also amplifies good things too, making it easy and practical to share knowledge, and help others, and raise awareness for worthy causes.  With that in mind our goal is not necessarily to scare our kids off the Internet or restrict them to the point that they are also missing out on the many benefits of our connected world.  One way, perhaps, is to focus on the Magnifying Glass and teach kids that just as you can get burned by the glass in the drawer if you use it with the sun, so can you get burned by the Internet, if you let it magnify things that are better left in the drawer.  With my own three kids, I have tried to focus on the fact that this magnification means that they should assume that anything and everything they post online will be magnified to the point where it will be seen by their parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, employers and future employers.  Before saying anything online they should ask themselves if it is something they are comfortable with being seen by everyone in that magnified audience.

Do you agree?  How do you teach your kids to play safely with The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

Photo Credit: © Scott Maxwell – Fotolia.com

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