Old Wounds and New Beginnings

dad

Today was a painful Sunday afternoon. For no good reason I decided to finally convert an old videotape that my aunt sent me of my dad’s home movies. He abandoned us all when I was a toddler and passed away in the 1990s. Anyway, it was tough seeing him enjoying life with his second wife knowing at the same time my amazing mom was struggling to raise 4 boys on her own in a strange new land…she had to learn a new language and learn to drive and cleaned houses to make ends meet. I remember going to my own elementary school at night with my mom with a bunch of other neighborhood immigrants and thought it was so strange watching them all squeeze into our desks and butcher the english language that came so easy to me as a kid. I also recall sliding all over the backseat as my mom learned to drive in empty parking lots with her lady friends.

As for the home movies, I will admit that it was interesting to see all of my uncles when they were young men and in their prime. I also got to see more of my grandmother and grandfather who died when I was quite young. Everyone seemed to smoke and mom retoucheddrink a lot in the 1960s, I guess my favorite show Mad Men wasn’t exaggerating after all!

It’s kind of pathetic that this man who left because he didn’t want to raise four kids spent a lot of time with a house full of kids (looks like my cousins) and he went overboard with Christmas decorations like I still do. Maybe he was trying to fill the void he felt? Who knows.

I’m glad I watched this because it only makes me love and appreciate my mother all the more. Her life story is worth telling. I wrote a play about her and our American dream called Ma’s Pizza. I might dust it off and see if I can do something with it.

I looked at some old photos of my mom and dad and it was bittersweet seeing how happy they were together. They were young and in love, full of hope and excitement over the future.

mom and dadMom & Dad's Wedding Day
I was just getting over the initial anger and sadness when I watched my father in Disney World. I never knew he went there. It’s a place my brothers and I never could afford to go and here he was in Disney World. My blood boiled as I imagined what it would’ve meant to us if we could have gone as kids. Anyway, ironically, it’s my favorite place in the world now because I’ve been fortunate enough to take my family several times through the years and we’re planning to go for a fourth time soon.

Despite all of the things my three brothers and I didn’t get to experience, my mom still managed to make us feel like we had everything we ever needed. No matter how poor we might have been, we never went hungry. We always had a roof over our heads and our home was always full of love and laughter. I love my mom for that. I’ve tried to do the same with my family no matter how good or bad the economy and my career has been. We don’t let anything interfere with our joy for life and our love for each other.

2009 APRIL MAY JUNE 040

Here’s Nonna with one of her many grandchildren. She loves seeing us struggle with our kids just like she did with us.

of=50,590,442

Here I am with my mini-me. Because of all the things my father did and didn’t do, I believe it’s made me a better dad. I’ve vowed to be the best father I can be. I Want them to look back at home movies and see me enjoying life with them instead of without them.

minime

Bootie Call

2013-12-24 16.29.07My first reaction was denial. A grandfather? Me? In my head I am still 19 years old, and that’s certainly too young to be a grandfather. Of course it is also too young to have children who are now in their 20′s. In the world outside my head I indeed have three adult kids (Adult kids? Is that an oxymoron?). In the real world my oldest son is soon to be 26, and sooner to be a father himself.

I remember the day Zach was born. Although we had moved to Rockland County we decided to still have “the baby” in Manhattan. I remember speeding down the Palisades Parkway with reckless abandon, hoping I’d get stopped by an eager Trooper just so I could have the satisfaction of pointing to Zach’s very pregnant mom in the back seat and continue on my high speed journey citation free… Yes, Zach, one of the first (of many) joys you gave your dad was a valid excuse to put the pedal to the metal…

And now another joy.

But at first I was in denial. Was my son ready to be a dad? How would that change his life? He is just establishing himself in his own career. How would it change my life? Was I ready to be a grandfather? Fortunately I came to my senses enough to realize that it is not about me, it is about my son… And his girlfriend… And their life together.

Still, I just wasn’t ready. I am from the school where you get married first, and then have kids, but I realize that social norms are different now, and the path my son is on is not as radical as it first seemed to me. And I know his girlfriend is a wonderful partner and loves my son wholeheartedly, as he does her, and I know she will be a wonderful mother. When Zach had a real scare, she was the one who saved him. I might not be ready, but Zach and Felicia are.

Thanks Mom!

Unlike hesitant me, my own parents were thrilled at the news and instantly embraced it with the same love and excitement that I am sure they will embrace their great-grandson with. It was my mom who finally put some sense in me and helped me paddle my way out of denial and open my eyes to see how exciting it is that our family was entering a new generation, that my son was ready and able to be a dad. I was reminded that they, my parents, were only 22 when I was born.

Shortly after having that conversation with my mom I was in NY for the holidays and walking through the Christmas shops setup for the season in Bryant Park. It was a cold but beautiful day, the kind where you can walk around with a cup of hot coffee or tea or cider and the cold smoke of your breath competes with the rising steam of the drink, a drink you count on to warm your hands as much as your innards. Through wind-teared eyes I spotted them inside one of the crafty pop-up shops, the booties. When was the last time baby booties caught my eye? Never? But I had to have them. Hand made from thick organic wool they were perfect, and the perfect first gift for me to buy for my grandson.  My grandson…

As I paid for the booties, I was suddenly struck with a wave – no a tsunami – of emotion.  I was suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed with the realization my son was going to have a son, and I was going to be a grandfather.  The cute little booties had finally made it real, made the tears start streaming down my face, and the lump of welled up feelings rise up in my throat.  Finally, I was ready.

Being Gramps…

But I was not yet ready for enormity of the real thing.  I had no idea how excited I would become as the due date approached.  As I write this I am on a plane to North Carolina, where Zach and Felicia live.  Where my grandson will be born, maybe even right now, while I am in the air, or later tonight, or sometime tomorrow.  But I am not leaving North Carolina until I meet the little bugger, and hold him in my arms, and put those little booties on his feet.

To be continued…

UPDATE:  My grandson, Liam David Sass, was born on April 10, 2014 at 11:36 pm.  He entered this world weighing 9 lbs 3 oz, 21 amazing inches long.  As someone who loves to write, and leans toward the verbose, I cannot find the words to fully and fairly describe the deep love, pride and joy I have for my son, for Felicia, and for my grandson.  I was in awe as I watched Zach step up into his role as dad and partner, and wonderfully coach and support Felicia (who was amazing in her own right) through a long and uncomfortable labor.  Even more indescribable is the instant love, bond and deep connection I feel to Liam, a bond I felt in the deepest corners of my being the moment our eyes connected for the very first time.  He is a special little boy, and I am so very blessed to be his grandfather.

I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time in North Carolina.  I miss him beyond words already.

2014-04-11 01.16.29

Zach and Liam…

Enhanced by Zemanta

Father Forgets

I was blown away by this Reader’s Digest piece called “FATHER FORGETS” by W. Livingston Larned which was printed a long time ago. It’s the type of thing that would go viral today had it come out now. The kind of thing that everyone shares in emails before the social interwebs came on the scene.
As a father of three and under a great deal of pressure juggling many things at once, I have been guilty of forgetting what’s most important in life on occasion. I will use this as a reminder to stop myself from ever getting upset with my children and never lose sight of the fact that they will only be this young and precious for a brief time in my life. I don’t want to miss any moments and I don’t want to every make them feel bad for being kids and doing what comes naturally. Of course it doesn’t mean we should let them run wild and do whatever they want. We should always step in and guide them when they get into trouble. I just know that MOST of the time we don’t have to get as upset as we do and MOST of the time we should stop what we are doing and appreciate them more and tell them how we feel too.

Anyway, I think this is so good. I first came across it in a book by Dale Carnegie. Here’s the audio book version of the passage.


I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumbled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your dump forehead.
I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me.
Guiltily, I came to your bedside. There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel, I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called you angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor, at breakfast I found fault, too.
You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Good-bye Daddy!” and I frowned, and I said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”.

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road, I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stocking Were Expensive -and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Image that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, inpatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and through you arms around my neck and kissed, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone pattering up the stairs.
Well, Son, it was shortly afterwords that my paper slept from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this way my reward for being a boy.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn it self over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good-night.

Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your beside in the darkness, and I have knelt there ashamed!
It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bight my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!” am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

“23 Skidoo” (and Comment for a Cause)

EthanSass

This post is inspired by Shot@Life, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation. During the month of August–Blogust–31 bloggers are writing about moments that matter. For every comment on this post and the 30 other posts, Walgreens will donate a vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines). A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. We can change this reality and help save kids’ lives! 

Ignorance Is Bliss

As a dad, I can’t quite say that I’ve ever truly experienced childbirth (well, except for my own), but I have had a front row seat for the event three times, as well as the remarkable task of acting as copilot through the journey of pregnancy. When my second son, Ethan, was born 23 years ago, I truly came to understand the meaning of the phrase “ignorance is bliss.”  The bliss part was when his older brother Zach was born. As the first child, when Zach was born we had no idea what to expect, so we blissfully meandered through pregnancy and childbirth. When Ethan was born, on the other hand, we knew exactly what was coming, and suddenly the prospect of going through it again seemed far more frightening and stressful than the first time around.  But we survived Ethan ‘s arrival (and his sister Olivia’s less than two years later.)

Ethan In The Middle

With an older brother and younger sister, Ethan is in the middle. But, at 23 he’s not just in the middle of his siblings, he’s also in the middle of becoming an adult.  And that’s what I think 23 is – a transition age.  At 23 he is done with college and really just settling in “on his own.”  At 23 he’s got a couple of years of “being legal” under his belt, and being “of age” to drink is no longer a novelty, but simply a reality (and a responsibility).  At 23 he has to start thinking not just of jobs but of a career.  At 23, he hasn’t just flown the family coop, he’s started to build his own nest, establishing his own roots.

23 Skidoo

“23 Skidoo” is an old phrase you might have heard used in a classic movie or TV show.  There are various theories about its origin, but it generally caught on as a popular slang expression for the opportune moment to skip out or leave (“…getting out while the getting’s good…”)  It was sort of like the “I’m outta here” of its day.  At age 23, Ethan has pulled off his own 23 Skidoo. He’s skidooed a thousand or so miles from home to be on his own, as a hipster musician in Brooklyn NY, pursuing his passion, music.  Even as the proverbial struggling artist, at 23, he managed to swing the pendulum a lot closer to the adult side and began supporting himself for the most part.  One day, without warning, the dialing for dollars drifted away.  Now when Ethan calls it is to talk and catch up on things, not to ask for parental financial aid. (Yay!)

Passion & Perseverance

At 23, I am so proud of him.  For his talent.  For his determination to find a way to pursue his music.  For his work ethic and ability to make ends meet.  But most of all for becoming, at 23, a truly great person.  A truly good man.

A sidebar about passion:  I knew Ethan loved his guitar, but I didn’t realize how much until he came home from college once to visit.  I noticed he was wearing a ring on his left hand, and it very much resembled a wedding band with a design of some musical notes on it.  To the best of my knowledge, he did not have a girlfriend at the time.  Perplexed, I asked “Ethan, what gives with the ring?  It looks like a wedding band?”  To which he replied, “It is.  I am married to my guitar…”  Passion.  Dedication.  Ok, a little goofy, but he wasn’t 23 yet…

What’s Next?

Parenting is forever.  The stress and joy, the challenges and triumphs, the love and pride that can only exist between parent and child never stops, from birth to age 23 and beyond.  It changes.  It evolves.  The moments are different, but every one is just as cherished.  The issues are different, but every one is just as important.  When Ethan says “23 Skidoo” to age 23 I know that it will just be another step forward (and one I look forward to.)

 

PLEASE COMMENT:

As noted above and below, every comment on this post (and each of the other Blogust posts) for the rest of this month, will provide a potentially life saving vaccine to a child in need in a developing country.  We have healthcare choices and options for ourselves and our children that simply don’t exist in other parts of the world.  Regardless of your personal choices relative to vaccinations, your comment can help a child who has very limited healthcare options, in a place where the spread of preventable disease is far too rampant.

Blogust is also part of a wider initiative proudly supported by Walgreens, the “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. Walgreens has committed $500,000 to donate up to 3 million vaccines for those kids who need them most. Beginning September 3 through October 14, when you go to Walgreens to get your flu shot, Walgreens will donate a vaccine to the Shot@Life campaign! 

(*Subject to availability. Some restrictions apply. See pharmacy for details.)
 
Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! Stay connected with Shot@Life at www.shotatlife.org, join the campaign on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
—————

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 25, Ethan, 23 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.  Jeff just launched a new story podcast, DadSlam.

 1751-FNL-Blogust13-Logo-RGB-vertical_white_1

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Give A Shot (@life…)

1751-FNL-Blogust13-Logo-RGB-vertical_white_1

It was merely a coincidence that I got the email from Shot@Life the same day I saw “WORLD WAR Z.”  In the movie (slight spoiler?) Brad Pitt plays an uber slick dude who works for the United Nations, and thus made me think the United Nations was cool again for the first time since I last went Trick or Treating for UNICEF with the awesome “boxes” we got as kids…  Pitt’s U.N. hero ultimately is seeking a vaccine to stop the global spread of a zombie inducing virus…

Shot@Life is an initiative of the United Nations Foundation, and is a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed.  The Zombie Apocalypse is not real.  What is real is that every 20 seconds, a child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease. Every year, 1.5 million children die of diseases that could have been prevented by a vaccine.  This month, Shot@Life is giving us all an easy way to make a dent in those numbers and give thousands of vaccines to the neediest children around the world.

Blogust – It Was Comment To Be

For the second year in a row, August is Blogust.  31 bloggers, one each day of the month, will write about a child that day’s age (a one-year old on August 1st, two-year old on the 2nd, etc. etc.)  I am honored to be representing Dadomatic by contributing a post on August 23 about my 23 year-old middle son.  The way Blogust works is that for every comment on all the 31 daily posts a vaccine will be donated to a child in a developing country.  Last year more than 11,000 comments triggered the delivery of 10,000 vaccines.  This year we have the opportunity to far exceed that number.  All you need to do is check out the official Blogust posts and leave comments (this post does NOT count, but my post on August 23rd will).  August is underway, and already the Blogust posts are collecting huge numbers of comments.  All comments will be tallied up at the end of the month, so every comment on every Blogust post counts between now and then.  Here are the first posts that have already gone live:

August 1: Rebecca Woolf
August 2: Casey Mullins
August 3: Sili Recio
August 4: Dresden Shumaker
August 5: Amanda Peet
August 6: Polly Pagenhart
August 7: Jessica Ashley
August 8: Rachel Faucett
August 9: Amy Lupold Bair
August 10: Sheila Dowd
August 11: Ellen Seidman

You can follow all the Blogust posts here, and of course I hope that the Dadomatic community will comment heavily on my post on August 23rd.

We may not be able to stop the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse, but we can make a difference in thousands of kid’s lives…


 

This post is inspired by Shot@Life, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that educates, connects and empowers the championing of vaccines as one of the most cost effective ways to save the lives of children in the world’s hardest to reach places. 

During Shot@Life’s Blogust, 31 bloggers, one each day in August, are writing about moments that matter. For every comment on  the 31 posts, Walgreens will donate a vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines).  A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. We can change this reality and help save kids’ lives! 
 
Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! Stay connected with Shot@Life at www.shotatlife.org, join the campaign on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. 
—————

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 25, Ethan, 23 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.  Jeff just launched a new story podcast, DadSlam.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Last Diaper

1234

 

This might seem like a silly post but then again most of mine are, huh? It’s about the bittersweet feeling I had dealing with the last diaper in our family. Our baby girl was wearing night time pullup diapers perhaps far too long because of the occasional accident. I think it went on much longer than it had to because I didn’t want to face the day when all three kids would be completely diaper-free, not consciously but perhaps subconsciously. In any event, the inevitable day came and she was so proud and so were we. When it turned into several nights in a row and then weeks it was official. No more diapers in the Carta household. The big pack of Huggies night time diapers for girls still sits there with unused items forever more.

This whole thing reminds me of how it felt when we had to deal with the last baby bottle and the last sippy cup. They were joyful milestones but tinged with a hint of bittersweetness for some reason for me. I knew instantly that I would forever miss it. I know all about how it’s all part of the process and signs of progress in raising kids as they grow up but it still stings. No matter how much we try to make things last, they still move forward and fade away.

cwvDm9asA3Lw9atmAbl5etGTDg

 

Am I saying that I miss changing smelly diapers and 3 AM bottle feedings when I have to wake up at 6 AM for work? Heck yes I do! But there is nothing to be done about it now. The baby factory has been shut down and this is it for us. We have been blessed with three beautiful babies so I do not want to be a greedy mug. I’m just sharing how I feel about these joyous milestones. I guess it’s the same with most of the experiences with our children as they move towards leaving the nest. The best we can do is appreciate the moments–the good ones and the seemingly bad ones–because someday we will miss it all.

Katrina Kennison calls it “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” in her magnificent memoir that celebrates the hum drum routines of parenting such as bottle feedings and diaper changes. Here’s one of my favorite videos ever with Katrina sharing some of her book.

I think this recent piece by Julianna W. Miner from the HuffingtonPost sums it up best. She nails it for all parents when it comes to appreciating the sweet spot, the moment when the babies reach a point when they are not as dependent on us as before. It’s beautifully written and so poignant as it captures the feeling of realizing that you’re smack dab in the middle of your dream so you better enjoy it while it lasts.

 

Take More Pictures

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI was at my parent’s house the other day and I looked at lots of old photographs that they had on the walls and in picture frames around the house.  I saw pictures from my childhood, family vacations, and some of my kids of course.  And I was struck by something:  there weren’t that many of them.  At least, not compared to the massive collection of pictures that I have of my kids.

Taking pictures ‘back in the day’ was not a small undertaking.  Taking good pictures was difficult enough, but after you took what you thought were good pictures you had to take the film to the drugstore to send it off for developing.  A week or so later you got them back to see just how good or bad you were.  More often than not, you had to trash half of them or more, because taking good pictures just wasn’t that easy.

When my kids came along, it was different.  We had these new digital cameras which enabled us to take massive amounts of pictures and see them instantly.  So we took a ton of pictures.  And because it was so easy to get rid of the bad shots and keep the good ones, I honestly can’t even remember the last time I developed a roll of film.  As many of you probably also thought, I thought that I would be printing all my digital pictures, but as it turns out I didn’t do a whole lot of that either.  I started out putting them on my website I created for my family to be able to see them, and then eventually started uploading them to other places online like Flickr and Facebook and now Google.

I said all that to say this… you need to take more pictures.  I don’t know about you, but there is so much that I have forgotten about my childhood than I will ever realize because we didn’t take pictures.  It took too much time and cost too much money.  Nowadays we literally take pictures of everything we do, just about every day.  My smartphone camera makes it real easy because it’s always with me and I have more places to share them online than ever before.  But the neat thing is that I still look back over the recent past at pictures that I know I took, but I didn’t remember taking.  It’s almost like looking at brand new pictures all over again.

I wish I had more pictures from all those places we went and things we did when I was a kid.  Digital pictures that I have taken still stir memories of good times and great adventures.  So I hope you do like I do now and make sure you grab that camera before you head out the door.  You’ll be glad you did.

Why Today?

I Love Dad

Sure, today’s the day the kids bring us breakfast in bed and us dads get to act like it’s all about us for a day (as if we don’t always do that…) It’s great to get the cards and the gifts and the hugs, and act all lazy and full of ourselves, but who are we kidding? EVERY day is Father’s Day because we are fathers EVERY day.

Fatherhood is not a day, it is a lifetime. The time to show love and respect to our own fathers is not on a holiday, it is on every day. Life is too short and too fragile to wait for each June to stand up and speak out for fathers (or May for mothers…). If you have children, there is nothing else as permanent or important as being a parent. Your role as a dad or mom is both the hardest and the greatest (and longest) adventure you will ever embark upon. It is a journey worthy of far more than a single day of celebration.

So, yes, Happy Father’s Day to you, dad, and to you dads. But don’t forget to enjoy and appreciate fathers and fatherhood EVERY day.

Now where’s my kid with my breakfast???

 

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 23 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.  Jeff just launched a new story podcast, DadSlam.

 Photo Credit: © burak çakmak – Fotolia.com

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Super Heroes

We dads love the whole concept of being super heroes for our families and being able to swoop in and save the day at a moment’s notice, but we all know that we are more Clark Kent than Superman. Still, we do our best to be strong and protective for the ones we love and hope for the best when they are out there on their own while we are far away at work.

The subject of bullying is an important issue here on Dadomatic which is why I’m sharing this wonderful new music video for a song called “Metropolis” by Owl City. It’s a beautiful song and infectious but most of all I love the theme of the music video which involves kids in school and how one sweet kid pretends to become a super hero in order to confront the bullies in his school in order to save his friends. It’s a wonderful story that sadly doesn’t have as happy an ending in real life as in the video.

It’s astounding to me that so many parents don’t realize that their kids are in fact the bullies that are destroying so many sweet innocent kids on a daily basis. I know as a fact that many parents know their child might be mean to others and decide to turn the other cheek and shrug it off as just part of the growing process. I’ve had parents tell me that boys will be boys and that we need to let them work things out themselves like we did in order to toughen them up to the harsh realities of life. Really? I don’t agree with this Neanderthal and barbaric mindset. Yes, we cannot prevent disagreements and teasing but we do not have to let things get out of hand or let them persist for days, weeks, months and unfortunately in many cases years. Far too many precious angels feel no other way out of their painful existence except to harm themselves in an alarming rate. What more do we as adults need to witness before we decide to do more to protect these innocent victims, not just our own kids but ALL kids? What will it take for you to become a super hero? I know I am wearing my cape right now and I am going to recruit as many super heroes as I can for this most worthy crusade to protect our angels.

By the way, even if your child turns out to be a bully, it does not mean you’ve failed as a parent. It’s only a failure if you do nothing about it. You must do something, not just for the victims but for your child as well. Bullying is merely a cry for help and a sign that something is terribly wrong in their world, either mentally or emotionally. Either way, the sooner you help them, the sooner the world becomes a better place for everyone in Metropolis.

Kissing Butt (Ant Butt, That Is…): Cast of Dads Episode 57

Green Lemon Ant

Green Lemon Ant (Photo credit: pietroizzo)

The Cast of Dads finally got together again for another gabfest about fatherhood and then some.  There is always something for us to talk about, and as usual, we cover a wide (and not necessarily logical) range of topics – in this episode everything from the serious (the Boston Bombings) to the sublime (licking the butts of ants).  Beware, we do let loose a few “f bombs” and “s” words, so you may want to listen to this one with the headphones on.  Enjoy!

You can click here to listen to Cast of Dads Episode 57.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

  • What age do boys need to wear cups when playing sports?
  • Phil Phillips new song talks about his crotch?
  • Rymes with crotch
  • Boston Marathon Bombing
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Don’t mess with Boston
  • First firefly of the year!
  • WALL-E is reality at Disney World
  • Black Ant butts that taste like lemons?
  • Washing out your mouth with soap
  • School overnight trips
  • “First Times” at Summer Camp
  • Are “The Bases” different today then what we remember them as?
  • Staying safe online
  • Brisket
  • Cooking with wine
  • Drinking with our kids
  • House of Cards
  • “Obama” premiere at Correspondance Dinner

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, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.  Jeff just launched a new story podcast, DadSlam.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Teaching My Kid To Get A Career

Follow Your Passion

Those of you with kids in diapers or grade school may want to skip this post (unless you want a peek into the future at one of the many other parenting adventures you can look forward to facing). Those of you with teens and young adults getting ready to enter the workforce and start to earn more than an allowance, please read on…

Jobs vs. Career

In simple terms, I think of a job as something you do to make money. This is especially true when we are young. Babysitting, dog walking, lawn mowing, packing grocery bags, hawking fast-food, etc., are all “jobs” we do to make money, and they are usually among the first paid work experiences our kids will have. While great to teach the values of a good work ethic, responsibility and to start learning to save and spend their own money, few of us would consider any of these occupations a “career” for our kids. Careers are work that we are passionate about, that we believe in, that we truly love to do. Jobs are important, but a true career is the goal.

But What Is A Career???

In truth, the above is an over-simplification, especially in today’s world. Our kids are likely to move around during their careers far more than we have. Growing up in a hyper-connected world where any fact is just a few taps away, and where “attention deficit” is no longer a disorder, but rather the order of the day, our kids will likely find many interests and passions to pursue throughout their careers, and take far more circuitous routes than we may have taken as their parents. But they have to start somewhere…

Getting Into The Industry You Love

My middle son is a musician (a guitarist and songwriter, to be more specific). He recently graduated from the Berklee College of Music, and is currently living the life of a struggling artist, manning the cash register at a hipster Brooklyn cafe to pay the proverbial bills while making music the rest of his waking hours. But he wants to work in a music related job, and as his dad, I felt compelled to give him some guidance and a plan of action that will hopefully land him with a job he can become passionate about… a job that will contribute to a career.

Don’t Look For A Job, Look For A Network

Here’s what I recommended to my son:

1) Leverage Your Obvious Strengths (and don’t be shy about it) – Sure, you are an extremely talented musician, but right now you have little tangible “professional” experience. What you do have is a degree from a respected music school with many accomplished alumni working in all areas of the music industry. That “Berklee Connection” is perhaps your greatest asset at this early stage of your career. Use it!

2) Build A Network, One Cup Of Coffee At A Time – Through resources like LinkedIn and Berklee’s alumni databases, create a list of alumni actively working in the music industry in New York City. Get an email address or phone number for each, as well as their office address. With the goal of getting 10 personal meetings a week, start contacting everyone on this list. IMPORTANT: You are not looking for a job, you are looking for a mentor. Ask people to tell you about themselves: “Hi, I am a recent Berklee graduate living in Brooklyn. I’d love to have 15 minutes of your time to ask you a few questions about how you started your career after you graduated. I am actually going to be in the neighborhood of your office on Tuesday afternoon. If I could stop by to see you for a few minutes, I’ll bring the coffee – what do you like from Starbucks?… yada yada yada.” Shoot for a personal meeting, but if all you can get is some time on the phone take it.

3) Listen, Learn, Then Ask – People love to talk about themselves and share their accomplishments. Your goal is not to ask for a job, but ask for knowledge and advice. Have 5-6 solid questions ready for your meetings, focused on how THEY got started after THEY graduated from Berklee. Be smart, be personable, let them do most of the talking and LISTEN. Keep track of the time and when 15 minutes are up, let them know, and that you don’t want to take too much of their time (giving them the opportunity to end it smoothly or keep the conversation going – at their choice.)

4) The Ask – When you’re meeting is done, thank them sincerely, and ask if it would be okay for you to stay in touch periodically. Then ask if there is anyone else in the industry they think you would benefit from speaking to. If they have a recommendation, ask if they would be willing to make an introduction. Then let them know if you can ever help them out with anything, no matter how trivial, it would be your pleasure. Thank them again and get your butt out of their office.

5) The Follow Up - Within 24 hours of the meeting, send a short email, thanking them, saying how valuable it was to learn their story, and reminding them you’d greatly appreciate any other industry introductions they’d be willing to make.

6) Rinse, Repeat – Do this diligently and push hard to get those 10 meetings a week. Many will blow you off, say no or ignore your request altogether, but some will agree to meet you, and every one of those will be an extremely valuable opportunity to learn and grow your industry network. Don’t worry about the “no’s” and keep focused on getting the “yes.” The numbers are on your side. The more folks you contact, the more times you will hear yes.

7) Be Patient – I told my son that I am confident that if he follows the above plan and actually gets meetings every week, in a matter of time he will be working in the music industry, and be able to give up his job to start his career.

What do you think? Do you agree with the advice I gave my son? Am I missing something that you would recommend? Please let me know in the comments (and thanks!)

Finally, a shameless plug: If you are, or know someone in the Music biz in NY, and you or they would be willing to meet my (awesome, talented, hard-working) son, please let me know and I’d be very happy to make the introduction. :-)

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.  Jeff just launched a new story podcast, DadSlam.

Photo Credit: © rnl – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Flashbulbs of Memories

flash-cameraWhen I was a kid my parents had one of those instamatic cameras with the square Magicube on top. Remember those? It would give you a flashbulb on each side of the cube and would automatically turn when you wound the film to the next frame. I remember many times watching my father take pictures with it and how incredibly bright it was. Each time I looked at the flashcube when it fired, for a short time afterward my eyes would see a shadow of my father standing there with the camera. I get the same sensation today when I look at the sun on an incredibly bright sunny day. You can close your eyes and for a short time still see whatever it was that you were looking at a moment before.

That’s the best analogy I can give to what happens to me all the time when I think about my kids. I don’t remember everything that happened regarding my kids since they were born, but I have a handful of memories that are burned so vividly on my mind.

The other day I watched a video online of a kid on a rollar coaster who was terrified and his father was there trying to convince him about how much fun he was having. I instantly flashed back to when my youngest son and I did the same thing just a few family vacations ago. I will never forget the look of terror on his face when it started, and the look of joy on his face when we came to a stop. Flash.

I watched a commercial the other day (yes, I actually watched a commercial, imagine that.) for some product for babies, and I watched as the camera zoomed in on babies who were sound asleep. Out of nowhere, I got a lump in my throat because I remembered what my boys looked like laying in the crib and the overwhelming feelings of responsiblity, joy, pride, and fear that I felt at that moment. Flash.

This past Christmas I was the first one awake in the house. When my eyes opened I was staring at the ceiling in my room and my mind went back to those Christmas mornings when I got up before the sun was up because my little boys couldn’t stand it anymore and wanted to get to that tree. We don’t get up before the sun anymore on Christmas morning and our kids aren’t nearly as excited as they were when they were little. But I still remember those mornings when I was probably more excited than they were to see them tear into those boxes. Flash.

Being a parent is a funny thing. The range of emotions you go through is constantly changing between joy, fear, anger, happiness, worry, pride, and contentment. But for me, it’s the flashbulbs of memories that mean the most to me. I am sure that over the years as my memories fade that I will forget much more than I will ever remember. But those moments in time are burned into my mind, like those shadows that the Magicube left on my eyes. I don’t miss those days of flashcubes and winding those film cameras. But I smile even now as I think about flashbulbs going off in my mind. What sweet memories indeed.

Parenting Is Purpose

what is my purpose

In my business life I spend a lot of time thinking about and talking with people about purpose.  In business, finding and being able to articulate purpose is (or should be) an essential piece of the complicated puzzle that leads to a successful company.  We hear a lot about “culture” in business talk, but what actually drives a great culture at great companies is a clear understanding of purpose across all levels of the organization.  It is often really hard to pinpoint and express purpose, but it is always worth the effort because nothing can better bring a team together or motivate productivity better than having every stakeholder living, breathing and believing in the same purpose.

Parenting Is Purpose

As parents, we are truly blessed.  We don’t need to have meetings or retreats or bring in consultants to help us find our purpose.  Being a parent is our purpose, and that is an amazing, empowering feeling once you acknowledge and accept it.  So many people struggle with finding “meaning” in their lives… it can be a cause of angst, anger, depression, loneliness… But if you are a parent, your life is filled with meaning and purpose from the moment your first child enters your life.  Being a parent is your purpose, and always will be.  From infants to toddlers to teens to adults, your children will bring immeasurable joy and unimaginable challenges, but they will always give your life purpose.  You are needed.  You are loved.  You are given the most fulfilling opportunity to give back all that you know, all that you are, all that you dream, to help shape a little person into someone that truly matters, and someone who makes your place in this world more important than anything else in their world.

Influence and Inspiration

What is most challenging about parenting is that it is forever.  What is most amazing and wonderful about parenting is that it is forever.  And so are the rewards.  We influence and inspire our children in so many ways and so deeply that we often don’t see it or appreciate it at the time.  As a parent of kids in their 20′s I am constantly amazed at the things they will remember or point out as having been influential to them.  Often these are things that might have seemed trivial to us parents at the time, yet from our kids’ perspective they were important moments.  Recently my daughter recalled a time I (half-jokingly) chastised my son, her brother, for not being able to make his mind up about what kind of sandwich he wanted at a sub shop.  According to Olivia I told her brother, who was probably 14 or 15 at the time, “Ethan, how are you going to get through life if you can’t even make a decision about what sandwich to have for lunch???  Make a decision already!!!”  Olivia remembered this as both funny and significant advice…  Who knew?

Purposeful and Purpose Full

When I get frustrated with things and feel like I am losing sight of the meaning and purpose in my own life, all I need to do is pull back and remind myself that I am a parent.  A simple phone call, text, or better yet a hug from one of my kids, and I am instantly reminded that I have a purpose, and a most important one.  I am a parent.  Of course this doesn’t mean parenthood is your only purpose in life and that you can’t have other goals and dreams and meaningful endeavors.  You can, and should.  But if you are a parent, you never have to doubt that you have purpose.

Do you agree?

 

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.  Jeff just launched a new story podcast, DadSlam.

Photo Credit: © Marek – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Trucks, Trees and a Father’s Fear

truck_and_tree2

Saturday night.  I am in Houston, Texas.  At dinner with friends following the conclusion of the Dad2Summit.

My phone rings.  It is a number I don’t recognize, but the smarts in my smartphone tell me the call is from North Carolina.  My oldest son, Zach, lives in North Carolina.  It is midnight there.

I immediately answer.  Knowing and dreading that something is wrong.

A female voice.

“Is this Jeff?”

“Yes…”

And then she starts crying.

“It’s Felicia…”

My son’s girlfriend.  She cries more intensely.  My mind fills in the blanks in the worst possible way.  Through sobs she continues…

“Right now… Zach… is pinned between his truck and a tree.  I can’t get him out.”

I leap from the table as if, with that intense, emotional motion I could transport myself to my son.  As if I could will myself to physically appear at the gruesome scene that was already filling my head.  Just that morning I heard Brene Brown give a keynote about vulnerability, and she spoke of the stories we tell ourselves. Already my mind was spinning a horrible tale of a parent’s worst nightmare.  Gleaning disjointed snippets of information from my son’s sobbing girlfriend, I could not help myself from scripting scene after terrible scene. I imagine my son slumped in the cab of his truck, the front end wrapped around a tree, awaiting the arrival of the Jaws of Life.

But the warped story in my head was not reality. There had been no impact accident, but rather one of those bizarre, unexpected accidents. I fought back my own tears while collecting the information through her tears, and learned that they had skidded off to the shoulder of an icy road, and the truck wouldn’t get any traction to get back on the road. Zach went behind the truck to inspect the situation when the truck suddenly slipped back on the ice pinning him against a tree.

The images in my mind shifted to a tree, my son and the crushing weight of the Dodge RAM 1500. New imagined horror stories of awful outcomes filled the fast flipping pages of my mind.

“Is he conscious? Is there any blood? Can he feel his legs?”

Suddenly I find myself going all Perry Mason on Felicia, grilling her with a barrage of questions…

“Can I talk to him?”

Zach’s voice sounded strong, almost normal, which immediately filled me with both chills and relief. He said he could feel all his fingers and toes, but that he was in a lot of pain. And he was scared.

I was scared too.

I did my best to hold the ugly head of my fear below the surface and be strong and encouraging – fatherly – to Zach, to assure him that help was on the way, that Felicia was there, that everything would be fine.  But below the surface the horrible stories were clawing their way back into my mind.  Was there internal bleeding?  Would he be paralyzed?  Was the truck and the tree the only thing holding my son together, like the wrenching scene in the movie “Signs” – a reference Zach himself made, saying he could not stop thinking about it as he waited in the cold for the rescue team to arrive.  I wanted to stay on the line with him until then, but they didn’t want to drain the phone’s battery.  I told Zach how much I loved him, again fighting back the awful thoughts trying to force themselves into my mind…

As I waited, pacing back and forth in my hotel room, I cried. I prayed. I spoke to myself aloud.  I envisioned every imaginable scenario, starting with the worst…

Finally the phone rang.  The EMT’s were there, trying to figure out the best way to safely extract Zach… slowly, carefully.  Thirty minutes later he was at the hospital and I was able to speak with him again before they took him in for CAT scans.

Miraculously, though in a great deal of pain and severely bruised, Zach did not suffer any breaks or fractures, and there was no internal bleeding.  About five exhausting hours after my phone rang at dinner, my son was released from the hospital.

I feel incredibly lucky and blessed, as this could have been so much worse.  I am so grateful and relieved that the stories in my head were just stories… just my internal fictions, reminding me how quickly, easily, and unexpectedly our lives can be turned inside out.

I am reminded that fatherhood – parenthood – is as frightening as it is wonderful, 24/7/365 and forever.  I am reminded that whether your child is twenty four hours old, twenty four months old, or twenty four years old, our burning desire is to protect them, and there is no greater fear than knowing that sometimes you can’t.

——-

A tip for parents of young adults:  If your child is over 18 the hospital will not release any information to you unless your adult child authorizes it.  Have a discussion with your kids so that they are aware of this.  Ask them that if they are ever taken to the hospital for any reason, to please let the hospital know as soon as they can that it is ok to share information with their parents.  When I was desperate for information about the status of my son, I had to wait for them to get Zach’s approval.

——-

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.  Jeff just launched a new story podcast, DadSlam.

Super Bowled Over: Cast of Dads Episode 56

 

baseball ballOk, I admit it.  I am a male, and I am not much of a football fan.  So, once again I am the butt of the “big game” jokes as the Cast of Dads gathered for our own little “pre-game” show.

Of course, as is typically the case, this being the Cast of Dads we talk about a lot more than just Football!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 56.

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, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.

Photo Credit: © Albo – Fotolia.com

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Of Kids And Dogs…

Iris, the one-eyed wonder

Iris, the one-eyed wonder

Growing up I never had “real” pets. Sure, I had turtles and goldfish and even a snake and a chameleon (not all at the same time…), but I never had dogs or cats. The excuse was that I, as a chubby asthmatic kid, was allergic… but I always suspected that the real truth was that my mom was not inclined to deal with the hair, litter-box, poop and pee that accompany canine and feline ownership.

Call It Puppy Love

But I loved animals, and they loved me. In fact there’s an old story about the time when I was three and we were at a barbecue at a relative’s house. I fell off a picnic bench and broke my arm, and the relative’s dog, a miniature schnauzer that I had befriended, would not let anyone near me, running in circles protectively around me, as I cried and clutched my injured arm. It took some time for my dad to finally fend off the pooch in order to get me to the hospital…

So, when I was finally an “adult” I wanted to get a dog… but dogs are a lot of work, especially for a single guy in a small NY apartment. Eventually, I got a couple of cats, introduced to the finer facets of felines by my then fiancé. After we were married, and moved to Rockland County, the prospect of getting a dog seemed closer (but not close enough to hamper our dink status (Dink = Dual Income No Kids). Then we got pregnant, and life as we knew it, was going to change.

Diapers & Poop Scoopers

So, with my first son Zachary on the way, we figured the time was ripe to become dog owners. If we were going to be staying home more to be parents, we could care for a dog along with our son. Yes, Zach’s first sibling was Ling-Ling, a beautiful Chinese Shar-Pei. By the time Zach’s human siblings came along, Ling-Ling had unfortunately passed away (a long, sad story) but we were committed “dog people” and our kids grew up alongside canine kin including Logan (a great, Great Dane/Lab mix), Molly (a magnificent mutt), Chelsea (a gorgeous Golden Retriever), and over the years over a dozen dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds. We learned many lessons in care and compassion from our furry friends, and I wouldn’t have had my kids grow up any other way. Our dogs have made us all better people.

Iris The One-Eyed Wonder

It has been a long time since I’ve had both a puppy and one of my kids in the house. My dogs are old – I’ve had them more than 12 years and as they’re all rescues I’m not quite sure how old they were when I got them… And, my kids are no longer kids (but I do know how old they are!) As young adults my kids have acquired their own pets as they’ve moved out and onward. They’ve only known a home with dogs, so it is not surprising that they’ve been continuing our course of canine companionship with dogs of their own.

My daughter recently moved back home (yay!) and she brought along her recently rescued puppy, Iris. Despite the fact she is a cyclops – yes, Iris lost an eye shortly before Olivia rescued her, Iris is a ball of energy. My formerly “empty nest” is now bustling as Iris (and my daughter) have brought back some welcome noise and activity to keep us older folk (me and my aged dogs) on our toes (or paws, as the case may be). Kids and dogs are a lot of work, but the love you get (and get to give) in return is well worth it. I am really happy to have both “girls” home.

How about you? Have pets played a role in your home?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Slices of Life

I love this photo I took a couple years ago because it captured a particular moment in time in our family. You can see the distinctly different stages of our three kids: Baby formula and bottles, Sippy cups and big boy cups.
I do my best to capture the big moments in our lives like everyone does (Birthdays, parties, school events, etc.) but I also try to capture routine or mundane everyday images that we all take for granted but miss so much later on in life. I highly recommend you do the same thing. You’ll regret it if you don’t capture some of your slices of life. Don’t try to rely solely on your memory for all of these things because they will be forgotten in time.

What are some things you should try to capture?

  • Everyday things that come and go like the bottles and binkies like above
  • Things your kids do in phases, for example, our Matthew loved dressing up in costumes the moment he woke up. My favorite was his Willie Wonka getup. He even did the scene where Gene Wilder walks with his cane that gets stuck and he tumbles.

DSC00004P1020133  buzzMattyHPIM0024

 

  • Also take photos of objects that will come and go like Cribs and changing tables and high chairs.

 

HPIM0012

 

  • I also recommend taking photos of the normal look of everyday living which means including how MESSY things could get! GASP! Yes, document how hectic things got. For example, in the photo below you can see just some of the gear that it takes to entertain a little one! All of the toys, sliders, riders, swings and things. Get ‘em all because you will forget most of it.

HPIM0009

  • If you have pets, don’t forget to capture their everyday moments as well. Our King Charles Cavalier Cookie loved hiding among the stuffed animals for a brief respite from the kids. Remember the E.T. scene in the closet?

cookie_lost

  • Cookie and our first born Nicholas. They are still inseparable. Here they were as puppies together.

boy_and_his_dog

  • Don’t forget to capture the kids at play. Here are shots of them just running across a bridge at the park and playing in the water fountain which we still do a lot.

 

2422618292_c27d956e88 2009 July 005fountain

  • Grab those moments when the cousins all played together too. Include traditions and regular things you did a lot. For example, the kids always love having an icy treat when they swam. It would vary from time to time, Popsicle, ice creams, milk shakes, slushies, etc.

2009 APRIL MAY JUNE 077 2009 APRIL MAY JUNE 076

  • Thanks to the age of digital cameras and smartphones with good quality cameras there are no more excuses for missing out on any memories, however big or small. Try to always be ready. You can always delete photos you really want. Here’s a cute one when Matthew and Rachel had a battle of the bottle. It was all spontaneous and didn’t happen ever again as far as I can recall but I’m glad I caught it. You will be glad you did too. Trust me!

P1010009

He Looks Like Me

hbhandmeMy 15 year old son is only 1 inch away from being as tall as me. It’s a strange feeling for me to see him looking straight into my eyes. His feet are as big as mine. His hands are as big as mine. And the little boy has grown into a young man.

For many years I maintained a family website where I posted pictures of my kids from birth till now so my family could see pictures from the important events in our lives. But if your family is like mine, then you know what happened when Facebook came along. Facebook became where I posted all the pictures of my kids, and looking at the picture galleries now allows me to see the progression of my kids growing up. It’s quite amazing to me because you don’t see the progression of your kids growing up every day. But when I look back and see what my kids looked like last year, and 3 years ago, and 5 years ago… it’s amazing.

I posted a picture on Facebook of me and my 15 year old son the other day and I got an interesting comment from an old friend of mine. She said “Wow, that gives me a flashback to 25 years ago…he is you made over!”

I paused for a minute because it didn’t make sense to me. So I dug out a picture of me when I was 15 and to my surprise, there was my son. As lanky as I was, with a mop of wavy hair and long arms. I never saw it till now.

He looks like me.

Then I started thinking about what I was going through back when I was 15. I thought about what I was thinking, feeling, and doing. I don’t remember everything obviously. Alot of time has passed, and a whole bunch of water has gone under that bridge. But I do remember some. And it caused me to think anew about my hopes and dreams for my kids.

I remember so much of the angst of being young. The feelings of inadequacy. The fears of not being accepted by my peers, my parents, and especially girls. My struggles to be good at things, and failing at some things I tried. I don’t envy my son, because being young is hard. Not hard in the way that being an adult with adult-sized responsibilities is hard, but it’s still hard. And he has to deal with so much more than I ever did at that age. No, I don’t envy him.

With that one comment from my friend, my perspective changed. For some reason, even though he was growing as tall as me, in my mind I still saw my son as that little boy who liked to play with legos and ride his bike. I almost missed it, because my son has slowly been turning into a man right in front of me.

And so now we begin a new chapter in life, me and him. Because I have bigger things to worry about now. I have so much more that I need to tell him, and show him, and teach him. And we have much more that we need to talk about. He does look like me, and I have a feeling that he also thinks and feels alot of the same things that I did. Lucky for him, I’ve already made a bunch of mistakes that he won’t have to. And lucky for me, because I have a hunch that he’ll be teaching me a thing or two as well.

Talking About Tragedy: Cast of Dads Episode 55

As the Cast of Dads gathered for our Holiday show, we shared our collective sadness and thoughts on the terrible tragedy in Newtown Connecticut, and how we’ve been discussing the events with our kids.  Since we’re dads of kids from toddler to the 20′s we have different circumstances and thus different approaches to how to address the news.  Needless to say, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone touched by this horrible event and we hope the healing happens as swiftly as possible.

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 55.

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!

On behalf of the Cast of Dads and Dadomatic, we hope you and your families enjoy a safe, happy and healthy Holiday Season!

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, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

We Are Broken…

We are broken.

There is no other way to explain it.  As parents it is our innate need, our deepest mission in life, to provide for our children.  To keep them safe.  To raise them in a better world than we were raised in…

But it is not a better world.

When I went to elementary school (often walking or riding a bicycle) my parents KNEW I was safe.  The worst kids in the neighborhood – the WORST – maybe smoked a lot of pot and carried a knife.  They did not have guns.

As an elementary school student in Queens, NY I went places and did things UNSUPERVISED that we would NEVER allow our kids to do today, in this world.  In the world WE created.

Something is broken.

We are broken.

WE need to fix it.

We need to restore our faith in each other and our kids’ faith in us and in others that CHILDREN are precious.  That WE are precious.  That they live in world that is better and safer than the world their parents grew up in.  That’s the way it is supposed to be, isn’t it?

Somehow it broke.

My heart goes out to all those touched by today’s unthinkable, unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut.  My heart goes out to all of us, for we have failed.  We have not made the world a better place for our kids.

 

 

 

Photo: © picsfive – Fotolia.com

Boiled custard, warm cookies, and roasting marshmallows

We asked our kids the other day where they wanted to go for the family vacation next summer. We anticipated something like the beach, or Mexico, or maybe a theme park of some kind. Instead, the answer we got from all of them was “We want to go back to the mountains.”

As a family we have gone to the mountains many times for family vacation. We rent a cabin, cook our meals, roast marshmallows, and spend time doing various nature activities. We have done pretty much everything we can do up there, but we have realized that it’s not really the number of things we do or trying to come up with something different to do. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the fact that
we do them there, in the mountains, as a family.

Every Christmas around our house there are things that we do as a family. We decorate the tree as soon as we can get away with it. We play lots of Christmas music. We always have a jug of boiled custard in the fridge. And when we decorate the tree we make a party out of it, complete with lots of snacks, especially warm chocolate chip cookies.

For many years we have also put up our Christmas houses. You know, those little ceramic decorative displays that light up? It’s quite a chore to get all the boxes down, set them up, and get them all lit up. So this year we thought about not doing the houses. But our kids let us know real quick that we needed to do the houses.

My wife and I realized that this was one of things, like going to the mountains. You see to our kids, putting up the Christmas houses is part of who we are. Christmas isn’t Christmas unless we do that. We set aside time, all of us, to decorate the tree, listen to Christmas music, and eat warm cookies. It’s those little traditions that are just as important a part of our family as who our grandparents are.

Our children will look back on these years and cherish these little things that will forever be a part of what and who our family is. I imagine that even when all my children are gone I will still drag those Christmas houses out of the attic every year and put them up. Because when they come home for Christmas I want them to remember what it means to be a part of this family.

For vacation we will indeed be going to the mountains again this year. Board games, roasting marshmallows, and swimming in the streams is what I am pretty sure we will be doing. And I am more than ok with that. Because I want to honor all these memories that we have worked so hard to remain faithful to every year. It’s part of what it means to be in this family. And it’s part of who they are. And when they have a family of their own I just know that this little collection of memories we have collected for them will lead them to make their own special memories for their family.

And I can’t think of anything better to give them than that. Merry Christmas kids.

Back To Basics: 5 Life Skills We Forget to Teach Our Kids

As my friend and business associate Hugh MacLeod likes to say, “we live in incredible times…”  And really, we do.  Despite the many hardships we face – from financial and civil unrest, to the unexpected and destructive wrath of Mother Nature – we still enjoy so many simple luxuries that it is easy to take much of our modern lives for granted.  It is easy to forget how good we really have it, even when we think things are at their worst.  Just search Twitter for the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems to see how potentially spoiled we are.

As a parent raising kids during these incredible times, it is also easy to get caught up in the fast pace of our uber technical lives, so reliant on the “net” and our myriad connected devices.  In a world where toddlers are touch screen wizards, and teens can text more eloquently than they can talk, it is easy to lose sight of some basic “life skills” that have no connection to being “connected.”

My kids are now in their twenties and starting their own adult lives, and as I look at the things that are truly important to them on the journey into adulthood, I am reminded about some things they need to know that ultimately may be more useful than how to manage their Facebook presence.  With that in mind here are…

5 Lifeskills We Should Remember To Teach Our Kids:

1. Cooking and Nutrition – If you look around you with open eyes it is impossible not to see the serious problem we have with health and fitness in this country.  Our Fast Food nation is fast becoming an unhealthy nation.  Teaching kids to cook for themselves is a great way to get them to understand basic nutrition, and to get them to eat better.  Naturally, you don’t want toddlers touching the stove, but responsible kids from around 9 or 10 on up should be able to prepare a few basic, healthy meals on their own, and start to understand basic cooking techniques and best practices.  I’d be remiss if I left exercise out of this category.  Few things could be as important as teaching your kids to make daily exercise, even as simple as taking walks, an essential part of their daily routine.

2. Doing Laundry – Sure, it is a chore.  But it is a chore that one day or another we all have to do.  Do your kids know how?  Can they add detergent to a load without causing a suds tsunami in the laundry room?  Do they understand the concept of separating colors, and hang drying vs. the dryer?  Unless you are truly a glutton for punishment, one day your kids will go to college or move out and have to do their own laundry.  The sooner you get them used to it, the better!

3. The Automotive Trio: Filling Up, Using Jumper Cables, Changing a tire – When your kids hit age 15 or 16, one of their primary objectives will be learning to drive, and before you know it, “can I borrow the car?” will replace “can I have some money?” as the number one phrase you dread hearing from your kid.  Many of us get a kick (albeit a stressful one) from teaching a child to drive.  We show off our prowess and years of experience as we guide them through this modern right of passage.  While we stress proper signaling, and turning heads to look past the blind spot, we often don’t bother to show our kids how to do three basic things every driver needs to know: How to properly put gas in the car (you’d be surprised how many kids don’t know what to do the first time), how to safely use jumper cables, and how to properly and safely change a tire.  Take the extra time to teach your kids these and save yourself a few frantic calls in the future.

4. Basic First-Aid – If your kids have been Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts maybe they have this one covered, but even younger kids should know basic safety and first-aid skills, and where you keep the first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, etc.  Even if they won’t be administering first aid themselves, if they have an understanding of band-aid basics (and other things, like applying pressure to a cut, keeping it clean, etc.) they will react better when they get their next “boo boo.”  Needless to say, as young as possible kids should understand the proper use of dialing 911 in an emergency.

5. Basic Finances – Even if we rarely use checkbooks anymore, our kids should understand the basics of balancing a checkbook and managing a simple budget.  In my experience, it is not something they get a good handle on in school.    They should know the difference between a credit card and a debit card, and they should have an interest in what interest means and how it impacts their financial health.  As soon as you feel they are old enough, include them in appropriate discussions about purchases. If you are dealing with mortgages and car loans or leases, explain to them how it works.  Allowance, used properly, can be a great learning tool.  Teach your kids about money and it will pay off (pun definitely intended) when they are finally off on their own.

What do you think?  Do you agree with these 5 life skills?  Are there others you would add to the list?  Please do so in the comments!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.

Photo Credit: © bofotolux – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Thanksgiving from the Cast of Dads! (Episode 54)

We’re baaack!  Yes, it has been a while since the Cast of Dads got together to shoot the proverbial sh**.  In truth we recorded a show a few weeks ago that was “lost” due to technical difficulties… but enough excuses… let’s get on with the show!

Before you click the link below to listen to Episode 54, let us take a moment to wish all of you, and your families, a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday.  And THANK YOU for all of your support.

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 54

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, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.

Photo Credit: © Oleg Iatsun – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Make Memories, Then Remember Them…

Cheret, Jules - Les Miserables

Cheret, Jules – Les Miserables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing we learn as parents is that it is the little things that often matter most to our kids.  The special moments that they will remember forever are easy for us to forget.  We are so busy with so many things that the stuff they find so very special we sometimes let slip right by.  I have three kids, and while we did many things as a group when they were growing up, as much as possible, we tried to give each of our kids some “alone time” when they could share an experience one-on-one with me or their mom.  Whatever we did, it was special because it was “just us.”

Les Not So Miserable At All

When my daughter was 9 or 10 we had one of our “dad and daughter” excursions and went to see a production of Les Miserables in Miami.  She had learned something about the show in school, and it was her idea to go see it together.  It was a special night for me and daddy’s little girl.  Dinner and a show! (OK, dinner was at a Burger King, but it was a really cool Art Deco Burger King in Miami…).  I was reminded of our night on the town when I saw an ad for the new Les Miserables movie coming out this holiday.  I immediately texted my daughter, now 21, “I want to see the Les Miserables movie with you when it comes out,” wondering if she would remember.  Of course she did, and immediately replied, “Yes, what a great idea!”

Even Better When Remembered

We had a great time when we saw “Les Mis” together, and it was wonderful to know we both recalled it fondly.  Now I can look forward to reliving a new version of that sweet daddy/daughter night out when the new movie opens next month.

Our minds are filled with so many special memories of moments with our kids. It is nice to step back once in a while and remember them together…

Have you looked back on any memories with your kids recently?

 

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Ways To Be Prepared When Mother Nature Roars (again)

(Note: This post was originally written in 2010 following the hurricane in Haiti.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy it seems worthwhile to repeat these simple but important tips.  As a Florida resident who knows firsthand the physical, property and emotional damage a massive storm can cause, my thoughts and  prayers go out to all those families affected, and my sincere thanks go out to those who have opened their hearts and homes to assist their neighbors in need. – JWS)

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 now infamous Sandy.  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, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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,  Wunderkind!  and Gape Into The Void podcasts.

Photo Credit: © victor zastol’skiy – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Father’s Guilt

Guilt is a great motivator. Well, maybe not every time, but sometimes it certainly can be.

When you have kids, something happens. It may not happen overnight, but it happens. You start to think differently about things. You suddenly start to notice the words and images that are used on TV shows and commercials, when you never noticed them before. One of the things that surpised me after my boys were born was that I started to critique cartoons. Yes, cartoons. I actually was turned off by things like the pervasive violence that I saw that I never noticed before. No wonder my kids wanted to beat all over each other… they watched it all day long on cartoons! I started to notice all the things, or lack of things, that women wore on TV, in print ads, and everywhere. Things that I used to think were no big deal were now a big deal to me.

I think that every parent goes through this, and if you are a parent reading this then I imagine you are shaking your head with me. My boys are now teenagers and there are other things that I worry about, much bigger things in my opinion. I still worry about the things they are seeing and hearing. I cringe when we are watching a TV show or movie together and I hear that curse word or that crude sexual reference. Yeah, I know they probably hear much worse at school, but still. I worry about how they perceive their lives, and whether or not they are happy. Most kids who are bullied never tell their parents, and I worry about that too.

And I feel guilty about alot.

I feel guilty that maybe I didn’t do everything that I should have done for them. I feel guilty that I am not as good a parent as I could have been. Maybe I was too harsh with my words, or too hard in my punishments, or expected too much of them too soon. Maybe I didn’t praise them enough, or encourage them enough. Maybe I didn’t hug them enough or say I love you enough. And I feel alot of guilt that maybe I could be a better example to them.

So what is a father supposed to do about that? Well, I have decided to look to my boys for the answer, because my guilt is balanced with other things.

They are both incredibly smart, straight A students. They both laugh all the time, and love to joke around. They argue like any brothers would, but they are also good friends. They are talented, they are giving, and they say ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes maam’. They are leaders among their friends, they care about others, and they rarely disappoint me.

So maybe they are great kids despite how I may have messed things up. Or maybe, just maybe, I did something right. And maybe the guilt isn’t so bad after all.

A KickA$$ Dad on Kickstarter

We’ve talked about a lot of awesome dads here at Dadomatic.  It’s what we do, right?  So it is with great pleasure and tons of awe and admiration that I mention another frickin’ awesome dad (and a hat-tip to Mashable for bringing it to my attention…).

Uber creative dad, David Engledow, has been documenting his role as “World’s Best Father” with some impressive pictures of him caring lovingly for his beautiful daughter Alice Bee.  But don’t take my word for it, check out David’s great shots in the video below, and consider backing his KickStarter project for a 2013 Calendar featuring his “World’s Best Father” photos.

 

 

Dads rock, and so does creativity!  Thanks for sharing yours David!

What do you think?  Is David Engledow a contender for World’s Best Father?  I am sure Alice Bee will think so when she is old enough to appreciate the work that went into this calendar.  Meanwhile, I need to learn Photoshop!

###

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 21).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Less Empty Nest

For a year and a half now I have been living in an empty nest… a house that once was riddled with the noise and disruption of three kids, now silenced, save for the rustlings of myself and a few dogs. While I am happy to have the canine company, it is not the same as the energy and chaos of children as they go from toddler to teen.

As one by one they grew, graduated and moved on to college and beyond, to dorm rooms, apartments, and homes of their own, in cities far and near, I reluctantly shifted into a new phase of parenthood, as a dad living on my own. Truthfully, it has been quite a change and I am still adjusting. Perhaps that is why it is such a treat to have my middle son, now graduated from college, home for a few weeks before he moves to Austin, Texas to start his career.

Not Home Alone

I was away for a few days on business, and it was such a thrill to come home to a house that looked lived in. Dirty dishes in the sink… All sorts of “stuff” strewn about the kitchen table… Noises not made by me! It has been wonderful to have the nest less than empty for awhile. Bumping into each other in the kitchen, snacking and chit-chatting… Helping him with computer updates and cover letters… Just hanging out on the couch and watching a movie together. All things I haven’t had the chance to do in far too long. All things we so easily take for granted and never imagine how much we will miss them when our kids are no longer always around.

Empty, Yet Full

Yesterday we went for a run together. For the first half mile my son held back, matching my “old man” pace. Then, as we turned a corner to a long stretch of road, he took off ahead of me, feeling out his own younger, faster clip. I watched with awe and pride as a trim, strong young man ran away from me, full of youth and energy and promise and possibility. As I ran on, huffing, puffing, and choked with emotion, I was comforted by the knowledge that he would always be welcome to run home again… My grown children may have left my nest empty, but my heart and soul remain quite full.

If your kids are still at home, dote on every single moment with them, for no moments are trivial once they become memories.

 ###

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Photo Credit: © mylisa – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

On Passing Along Creativity To Our Kids

Is creativity a result of genetics or environment?  I have no idea. If you know the answer, please share it.

What I do know, is that I grew up in a household where creativity was generally celebrated, and I have always considered creativity to be one of my strengths. My mother always drew and painted, and as long as I can remember, our apartment prominently featured her art, both things she had painted as a child, and more recent works she created as a mom. She is still creating art. My sister and I were always encouraged to pursue creative activities, and I found myself drawn to writing, theater and music at a young age. I am still creating today, both personally and professionally.

I’d like to think that my kids were also raised in a creative home. Both their mom and I shared our creative pursuits with our kids, and when their homework offered a more creative option than just using a textbook, we did our best to push them down the creative path. A diorama was always a better choice than a written report as far as we were concerned.

Thinking creatively is a life skill that doesn’t just apply to arts and crafts. I firmly believe that being creative, that having a creative mind, is an asset for all types of social and business interactions. Perhaps this is even more true in today’s connected world, where our kids are growing up as personal broadcasters. Our kids are sharing clever 140 character updates, slickly filtered photos, and high-definition videos, as non-chalantly and easily as we may have tossed a crumpled handwritten note to a kid across the classroom when the teacher wasn’t looking.

In a world where content is king, creativity rules.

I am proud of all of my kids and their continued creative pursuits, whether in the kitchen, with an instrument, or in planning an amazing event. The thrill every parent knows from sticking that first drawing on the refrigerator is every bit as sweet when that drawing becomes a story, a picture, a song, a video on YouTube… Anything created by our children can be a source of awesome parental pride (well, not anything… as the parent of twenty-somethings, there are a few of “those” Facebook posts that, well, I could have done without seeing…). But I digress.

This post on creativity was prompted by me discovering an awesome (in my highly biased parent’s point of view) short video that my middle son Ethan stars in and wrote and performed the music for. If I ever wondered what he was doing while away at college in Boston, I couldn’t be happier to see this as one of the results. Ethan just graduated from the Berklee College of Music and is moving to Austin, Texas to pursue his career. I know he will do so creatively…

 

 

Where do you think creativity comes from?


Jeff Sass
 is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Photo Credit: © picsfive – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cos-Play for Kids?

Who says costumes are just for Halloween?

Kids have always loved to dress up, and frankly, so have a lot of adults.  For many kids and adults one Halloween day a year is hardly enough to satisfy one’s urge to hide behind makeup or a mask and take on the attributes of another person (or creature).  Nothing wipes away inhibitions faster than dressing up and seeing the world through different eyes.  When you are in costume, there’s an energy derived from the way others treat you.  They don’t treat you as yourself, but rather, they treat you as the person or thing your costume represents.  It is a vicarious thrill we learn as kids and (if we let ourselves) continue to enjoy, on occasion, as adults.  Of course as a parent, you can always use your kids as an excuse to unleash your inner character (as this super dad did).

Recently I attended the Florida SUPERCON, and while not as big as the famed San Diego COMIC-CON, I got to enjoy seeing quite a few kids (and parents) in costume.  I wonder which of these parents dressed their kids up and dragged them along only so THEY could break out their inner superhero…

Are costumes just for Halloween in your household, or do you and your kids enjoy some off season Cos-Play???  Please add links to pictures of you and your kids in costume in the comments!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

WTF Is A Huckapoo Shirt? – Cast of Dads Episode 53

Our children and our childhoods sparked an olympic discussion in the lastest episode of the Cast of Dads podcast.  Where else can you listen to five disparate dads debate topics from malaria to Mini-Coopers, from the Olympics to the “Orangutang Hang!”  Enjoy!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 53.

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, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Spider-Sense Says “PURE AWESOME DADNESS”

No words are needed to describe how freakin’ awesome this is.  If you’re a dad, you know the feeling and (hopefully) have your own version of this adventure.  This has been widely covered by Huffington Post, Inquisitor and others, but this video, and this SUPER Dad, most certainly deserves a place here on Dadomatic.  On behalf of all us dads, I salute you Spider-Dad!

 

This wasn’t nearly as cool as Spider-Dad and son, but watching this video did make me recall the Halloween, many full-moons ago, when My sons and I “did Dracula.”  Fangs for the memories!

 What was your best costume adventure with your kids?


Jeff Sass
 is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 24, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mean Girls

We’ve covered bullying many times here because it’s such an important issue. It’s incredible that bullying is still such a widespread problem in this day and age of instant communication. As a matter of fact, social media has actually increased the amount of bullying by giving the malicious bullies more tools to spew their venom against their innocent victims. We as parents, teachers and any other adult need to do everything we can to help protect children of all ages who find themselves under attack, not just physically which is easy to see but more importantly mentally and emotionally. Far too many sweet angels have their spirits broken and rather die than continue to live the painful existence they endure. We must help and become part of the answer or continue to do nothing and thus become accomplices to the problem.

I love this song by Rachel Crow called “MEAN GIRLS” which addresses the pain of dealing with bullies. I love her attitude in the song when she says “I’m a just comb you outta my curls”. It’s such a well-down music video too with scenes from school and sweet girls being harassed by the popular mean girls. This has gone on forever but it can change as more and more of us do something about it. We cannot turn a blind eye to this anymore. This includes all teachers and anyone working in the school system, even if the kids aren’t in your class…it doesn’t matter, your mission should be to protect all children. Fellow students should also do something about it. If they are afraid of retaliation then they can report bullying anonymously. By remaining silent you are all condoning and helping this behavior. We have to help each other.

Note: I think one of the reasons this song hit home even more than usual is because my sweet six year-old daughter’s name is Rachel.

Do you ever go to lunch with no one by your side
Cause the moment you arrive they leave the table
Calling me everything but my name
Need I remind you again just call me Rachel
How would you feel if you running home crying
Lock yourself in your room, don’t want anyone to see ya
While everyone’s having fun outside, and you’re telling yourself

I won’t let it get to me no more
I don’t wanna feel this way
I can’t believe I let it go so far
No no, it’s not okay
What do you know about me?
Do you wanna know what I think?
Mean girls, mean girls
I’m a just comb you outta my curls
Mean girls, mean girls
You no longer run my world
Mean girls, mean girls
I’m a just comb you outta my curls

How would you feel every time you go to school
Someone’s looking at you weird calling you a loser
All these girls wearing bubble-gum pink
Guess I didn’t get the memo
Cause they’re laughing at my blue shirt
Well I hope you feeling good about you treating someone you know like a perfect stranger
Cause it’s easier than standing by my side

I won’t let it get to me no more
I don’t wanna feel this way
I can’t believe I let it go so far
No no, it’s not okay
What do you know about me?
Do you wanna know what I think?
Mean girls, mean girls
I’m a just comb you outta my curls
Mean girls, mean girls
You no longer run my world

Who do you think you are
Loud mouth, cafeteria star
Maybe somebody was cruel to you
So you think that’s what you’re supposed to do
One day, it might be you
When you need a friend, but you no longer cool
When everyone leaves when you walk in the room
I just hope they forgive you

I won’t let it get to me no more
I don’t wanna feel this way
I can’t believe I let it go so far
No no, it’s not okay
What do you know about me?
Do you wanna know what I think?
Mean girls, mean girls
I’m a just comb you outta my curls
Mean girls, mean girls
You no longer run my world
Mean girls, mean girls
I’m a just comb you outta my curls

Mean girls, mean girls
You no longer run my world

My NBA Education, or, What I Learned From My 12-Year Old

My dad ran up and down the sidelines cheering me on and yelling at the top of his lungs.  He didn’t know much of anything about soccer, but that didn’t stop him from being my fan.  That taught me a valuable lesson, which I am using today.

I have never been a basketball fan.  High school, college, NBA… doesn’t matter.  I don’t know much about the game except the basic rules and the names of the popular teams around the nation, and of course some of the names of the more famous NBA players that most of us probably know.  Although I did learn recently that Oklahoma City has an NBA team.  Oklahoma City?? Who knew?

But I know more now that I ever have. I have learned that Lebron James almost had a quadruple-double in the Miami Heat – Boston Celtics series. I have also learned that Denver’s Ty Lawson is the best 3-point shooter in the NBA, according to my 12 year old.  Yet my 15 year old says that 10-time All-Star Ray Allen is actually the best 3-point shooter and will be even more deadly now that he has been traded from the Celtics to the Heat.  And don’t even get me started on the Linsanity that is going on up in the NY Knicks stands.

I have come to know and understand the intricacies of NBA basketball not because I really care that much.  I do it because my kids do. I am not sure when it happened, but we adjusted our schedule around the house to make sure that we watched the games on TV during the recent playoffs.  And now I understand why my dad screamed from the stands at my soccer games while scratching his head at times at what was happening on the field.

I think it’s important that parents invest themselves in the things that their children invest themselves in. If my kids were into comic books, I would be too. Skateboarding? Yep, I would give it my best shot. (Thank goodness they are not!) You see, I have discovered many benefits to doing this.  I get to have conversations with my kids about things that excite them, and they know I am interested.  So when they get excited about something, I am on the short list of those who they know will be excited too. I know what’s going on in the lives of my children, at least on some level, instead of being totally clueless about what’s going on.  Even today I listened to some music that my kids are into, and while I can’t say I was impressed, at least I know what is being pumped through those earbuds.

I may not understand why my kids like the things that they do, and I may not like them myself. But I love my children, and I want them to know that their dad at least knows enough about it to ‘talk shop’.  So if you’ll excuse me I have to go visit ESPN.com right now and brush up on the latest NBA free agent trades, while at the same time thank my lucky stars my kids aren’t into BMX bikes.  That would just get ugly real quick!

Grown Men Giggling: Cast of Dads Episode 52

A few days before Father’s Day, the Cast of Dads got together with a serious case of the LOL’s – and there were no cats involved.  I’d say you had to be there, but you can!  Just click the link below to listen to the show…  Just be prepared, as laughing is known to be contagious.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day.  We did!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 52.

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, 23, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Photo Credit: © Yael Weiss – Fotolia.com


My little girl has the biggest heart

I don’t know exactly how to put this year’s Father’s Day feelings into words. The day was special…filled with all the usual cards and fun gifts that are easily anticipated. But one aspect stood out and that was the note my 8-year-old daughter wrote to me “from” my father.

You see…my dad died in April 2001. Do the math: she never met him and she knows it. She’s reminded of him often by my mom, with stories and pictures that scatter her home. She’s reminded of it a bit more lately as she starts to take up golf, one of his passions.

She’s never shy to ask, “If Grandpa Kenny was still alive, he would love me to pieces, don’t you think Daddy?”

Yes, he would, but only half as much as I do and can, especially after reading this note from her on this Father’s Day.

I’ll frame it and keep it safe…somewhere so that years from now she can see it again after she’s long forgotten it. And obviously, I need to keep working on my golf swing. :-)

Letter

5 Things That Shouldn’t Wait For Father’s Day

The Sass Dads

Father’s Day is around the corner, but as both a dad and a son, I know (and I know that YOU know) that fatherhood has little to do with one “hallmark” day in June.  While it is nice to set aside some dedicated time to celebrate paternity with pride, it is also important to remember that truly, every day can and should be a father’s day.  With that in mind, here are:

5 Things that shouldn’t wait for Father’s Day…

1) Tell your dad you love him.  Not all of us are fortunate enough to have our dads around and in our lives.  And for those of us who are that fortunate (myself included) it is far too easy to take life for granted and assume that dad will always be there.  Take the time, now, to let him know how glad you are that he is.  Then repeat the practice often.  (Dad, I love you!)

2) Tell your kids you love them.  Now. Today. Tomorrow. Every day thereafter. You can never do it too much.  You can never spoil a child by letting them know they are truly loved.  Don’t wait for special occasions.  As a dad (or mom), you know that, when put into proper perspective, every occasion is special. (Zach, Ethan, Olivia… I love you!)

3) Spend time with your kids.  As often as you can, and ahead of other things.  I’m busy.  You’re busy.  We’re all busy.  But work will always be there.   So will bills.  Chores.  Errands.   Your kids won’t.  They grow up.  They move out, and suddenly you can’t just walk down the hall and poke your head in their room to check on them.  Suddenly, when you stop and listen, you don’t hear them.  No sounds of fighting, playing, laughing, crying, breaking things, video games, bad music blasting, drums and guitars practicing.  One day it is just quiet.  Too quiet.  Way too quiet.  Worse, spending time with them is not so easy anymore.  They live in different places.  Different cities. Different states.  Having dinner with them means making plans, not yelling “dinner’s ready.”  So spend the time now, while it is easy… and make the time later, when it is harder.

4) Celebrate Fatherhood.  Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it right now or not, being a dad is the single most important, life-changing and lasting thing you will ever do in your life.  It is an enormous responsibility, but an even greater accomplishment as you learn (and continue to learn) to get good at it.  At times, nothing is more challenging than being a dad.  At the same time, nothing could possibly be as rewarding and fulfilling.

5) Acknowledge and Respect Mom.  In many ways it is silly to have a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day.  We are all PARENTS, and too often the world seems to be trying to pit moms against dads.  This is ridiculous.  Parenthood is not a competition, it is an expedition.  A journey two people embark on together, and share forever, whether they remain with each other as a couple or not.  I am a divorced dad, but my kids’ mother is, and always will be, their mom, and that is very important to me (and them!)  As dads we need to “man up” as it were, and always, not just on “Mother’s Day,” respect mom and acknowledge the important part of parenthood they play.

Father’s Day is still cool.  I’ll send my dad a gift, and will look forward to cards (and maybe a gift) from my own kids.  But I am not waiting for Father’s Day to be proud of being a dad, and to be proud of my own dad.   I will try to do that every day.

How about you?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 22 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Good Life

Because of this promotional video (commercial) that One Republic made for Disney and because my kids sang this over and over again all throughout our time in Disney World recently, this song “Good Life” will forever make me thing of that magical place. I really would love to live close to Disney World someday so we could go there more often but some think it’s best not to go there too much because it would take away from the specialness of the experience. I’m not sure. Yes, I know Disney has become a slick money-grabbing machine but there’s something amazing there because it taps into our inner child and brings back memories of our youth as well as creates new ones with our children for the future. It’s the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth.
Note: I love the part where the band recreates the famous Abbey Road street crossing that the Beatles did…only this time it’s at Disney World and some characters join them. :)

 

Blast From The Past: The Grab Bag

We just got back from our yearly family summer vacation (a cruise to Mexico), and we racked up another bushel of memories that make us all cringe and laugh. If your family is like mine, family summer vacations are watershed moments in our lives that we talk about for years.  As we rolled down the road this past week heading toward our week of adventure, we did what we always do. Someone in the van will say something like ‘Remember last year when…’.  Then we all have a good time laughing and poking fun at the unfortunate one of us who is the subject of said memory.

This year though I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before in years past.  Maybe it was present last year or the year before that, but this is the first time I noticed it.  I looked in the rear view mirror and saw all my kids buried in screens the entire trip.  Cellphones, computers, tablets, iPods, and DVD players. Every kid in the van had multiple screens of some variety and interacted with them the entire time. I don’t recall one time the entire trip when one of my children looked out the window and said ‘hey, look at that.’  I do remember however multiple times hearing complaints about having to share the limited power outlets scattered throughout the vehicle.

I then harkened back to the days of my own family vacations with my brother, mom and dad. To be fair, if I had owned back then all the amazing devices that are available to kids today, maybe I would have been buried in screens the entire time too. (Who am I kidding? Of course I would have. I was a geek before there was such a term.) But what I remember the most about our family vacations was the Grab Bag.

Maybe you had one too. In preparation for the trip, my mom would wrap little toys of all varieties and put them in a bag.  The Grab Bag. Each day of the trip we would get to reach into the bag and blindly grab one item, which we would then voraciously unwrap and pray that it was something cool. And that was it. One per day. Good or bad, cool or lame. We did get to pick the time that we reached in the bag, but only once per day. I don’t guess they make these things anymore, but my mom would buy toys that were meant to be used on road trips.  Like a little chess board that was magnetized so that the pieces didn’t fall off during the turns. Or maybe that ‘I spy’ game where you could check off items that you saw along the road and be the first to find them all.  Or if you were lucky, a mini telescope that you could use to look out the window at stuff along the side of the road. In fact, that’s what I remember most… looking outside the windows of the car at what was outside.

As I have written about before, we had that iconic station wagon that most families had back then, since there was no such thing as a minivan. And my parents drove that thing all over the country on those family vacations, from the Grand Canyon to Myrtle Beach.  I have seen many strange things and interesting places outside the windows of that station wagon. And that is my point. I was looking. Again, to be fair, that was pretty much all we had to do anyway besides beat on each other, but I can’t help but think that it is a metaphor for our lives today, specifically our children’s lives.

I think we spend too much time today focused inward instead of focused on the world around us, and I think it’s our duty as parents to make sure our kids spend time doing that. I have hope in this generation in that regard because I see that today’s kids have much more compassion and interest in the general well-being of others, much more so than we did as kids.  But I think that technology may be doing our kids a measure of harm by building bridges to other sides of the world while at the same time building walls between them and the world around them.

I am not naive enough to think that a Grab Bag would suffice my children today. The little plastic telescope can’t compete with Angry Birds or Facebook. Heck, even I would rather play Angry Birds. But maybe next time I’ll make everyone turn off the screens, at least for a little while, and play ‘I Spy’.  They will think I have lost my mind, I am sure, but my mom will be so proud. You were a genius, mom. Genius.

Sharing love, anytime.

I can see Lucas playing basketball from my home office.

I just ducked my head out the window to say, “I love you, Son.” He replied, “I love you too, Dad.” Then I shut my window and returned to work.

I imagine him feeling good knowing Dad is watching and appreciating him. The kind of stuff he remembers and carries with him.

How do you let your little ones know how deeply you love them?

:: Joe Hage is the owner of LinkedIn’s largest Medical Devices Group and invites you to sign a petition against the 2.3% medical device tax at no2point3.com. ::

Autopilot parenting

Recently I was driving a route that I normally take when driving home, although I was going somewhere else. At the intersection that takes me to my home, I instinctively turned left rather than continuing straight ahead to my intended destination. My eldest daughter pointed out my mistake, and I responded, “I was on autopilot.”

In fact, most of the things that I do daily I do on autopilot. When I brush my teeth, wash the dishes, and bring my fork to my mouth, I don’t actively think about those actions. I’m on autopilot. Of course, the reason that I can do those things without thinking about them is because I’ve consciously repeated them. My conscious mind has trained my unconscious mind.

That is a wonderfully good thing. It means that I can have meaningful conversation at dinner because I don’t have to focus on chewing and swallowing. It means that I can talk with friends while hiking because I don’t have to focus all of my attention on how to put one foot in front of the other and maintain balance.

With respect to parenting, our autopilot responses are particularly important. The repeated practices that we cultivate – consciously or unconsciously – shape the way that we respond “on autopilot.” Consider just a few of these practices:

  1. Active Listening. The practice of deliberately giving our children eye contact, confirming that we have understood what they are saying, and asking good questions all form habits. When we don’t have the time or “mental space” to think about how to listen, we default (whether we want to or not) to autopilot listening skills that we have practiced.
  2. Conflict Resolution. Children have plenty of conflict – with us, and with one another. In many of those instances there are not outside pressures (like being first in line at the grocery store, or being already late for school). In those instances, we can patiently teach wise conflict resolution: identify the interests of all involved, name any wrong done, and brainstorm creative solutions that address any wrong done and satisfy as many interests as possible. Cultivating these skills of conflict resolution help us – and our children – to have good autopilot skills in the heat of the moment.

All of us operate on autopilot in life and in parenting. The pressing question is: What habits, skills and practices do you deliberately cultivate so that you can instinctively respond well to your kids?

Graham Scharf the father of two, co-founder of Tumblon.com and author of The Apprenticeship of Being Human: Why Early Childhood Parenting Matters to Everyone (which is now available for free!). You can follow him on Twitter @tumblondad.

My Greatest Day as a Dad (So Far)

My greatest day as a dad recently eclipsed my previous greatest day as a dad.

The first one was about a month ago. I was wearing a Stormtrooper t-shirt I had gotten for Christmas. My daughter Lucy was sitting across from me at the table, and said, “I like your shirt, Dad.”

I thanked her, thinking she liked the artsy design and bright colors.

Then she asked, “That’s from Star Wars, isn’t it?”

My ears perked up, because I hadn’t talked that much to her about my favorite movies in the history of the universe. Yet.

“Why yes, it is,” I responded.

The thing she said next solidified that day as my greatest as a Dad. [Read more...]

Whose Dream Is It Anyway?

 

The shocking news of the suicide of pro football legend Junior Seau has opened up the discussion about the long-term impact of playing the violent sport of football. There have been many studies in recent years showing the severe effects of repetitive traumatic brain injuries, especially regarding concussions. These injuries often lead to what is termed CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) which  is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. CTE was originally found in boxers but recent studies have discovered traces of this disease in many retired football players. The tricky part of CTE is that is can take effect years after retiring from the sport so the connection to football injury is rather blurred but research is clearing up this rather disturbing reality for too many players. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.

Now why am I sharing all this on a website for dads and parents? Well, this whole subject matter hits home hard for me and many other parents who have big, strong sons who either play football or desire to do so. Many parents across the country are having serious discussions about the decision to let their child play the violent game or not. This was unheard of only a few short years ago as playing football was as natural as playing baseball but that is no longer the case.  Many parents are making the difficult choice to forbid their children from playing football and opting for less dangerous sports.

As for me, the decision was made by my own son at age 10 after participating in a summer camp session for football at the local high school. My dreams of seeing my boy on the grid iron in high school and college went up in smoke when he realized that he quite simply did not like playing the game at all. I tried to change his mind for the longest time and used every tactic available but nothing worked. He was not going to play football anymore and I was devastated and crushed. Eventually, when I slowly came to my senses I realized that this was his life and that I could not force him to do something he didn’t want to do. I did not want to be the male equivalent of those stage moms who push their little angels into toddler beauty contests. So I learned to let it go.

By the way, here in Georgia, and I’m sure across  the whole south and other parts of the country, they start recruiting kids very young and as early as possible. For example, the local high school started recruiting my son Nicholas when he was only about 6 or 7. They would send their star players to the middle schools and even elementary schools and focused on making impressions on the biggest and strongest looking children with the hopes of planting the seed for playing at their high school versus its competitors. At the time I found the whole practice strange but nothing serious. However, learning about the long term effects of playing football has changed my viewpoint of this common behavior by high school football programs. It also made me feel relieved that my son made the decision to quit the sport as quickly as he did too! I was so glad that he got out before he experienced any type of head trauma or other type of injury. Sadly, injuries are a common part of the game. It’s not if someone gets hurt but when.

Update:
Just today there was news of a class action lawsuit by over one hundred former pro football players against the NFL for not sharing information they had regarding the dangers of repetitive head trauma experienced in the game of football. This brings the total to 1,500 ex-players currently suing the league for withholding this critical data. Look for many more retired players to follow suit (no pun intended). I think all this will lead to radical changes to the sport to make it safer, especially when it comes to head injuries. The NFL has always improved its equipment and rules to protect its most valuable commodities, namely its players, but it seems as if it was still too little, too late for far too many of them. Let’s hope they do everything they can to reduce the risks these modern day gladiators endure for our viewing pleasure.

As for my boy Nicky, he’s 13 now and over six feet tall and 200 pounds already. So the football recruiters were right about him. However, he prefers to play other sports like soccer and baseball and to be honest with you, I am very happy that he’s not playing football after all. The comfort of knowing my sweet boy isn’t getting his head bashed in every time he practices or plays football more than makes up for initial sadness of giving up my dream as a father of watching my son being hailed as a hero on the gridiron. His health and happiness is truly the most important thing to me. Also, he has to choose the dreams he wants to make come true in his life.

 

 

 

photo credit: Ѕolo via photo pin cc

Razor Sharp Tips for Dads

Shaving is one of the best bonding experiences for dads and sons (ok and sometimes daughters much to the chagrin of moms). Whether they use real shaving cream or fake stuff, the kids love pretending to shave like their dad. I don’t know why it is but there’s something fun about this ritual. I highly recommend doing it sometime and find out for yourself.

When it comes to shaving every morning as a grown up I have to admit that it’s not as much fun. It’s a pain in the neck (sometimes literally) having to take a sharp blade to your face every morning. The other frustrating element is the expense and amount of choices there are when it comes to the razors, blades and even the shaving cream. You can try to be cheap and use the disposable razors which isn’t very green and truth be told they are not very good when it comes to getting a close shave (you get what you pay for). You can go the opposite route (which I’ve done for the most part) and go with the top of the line brands where they keep adding more blades and comfort strips and vibrating motions, etc. You wind up paying more and more for replacement blades which is insane when you think about it. The other camp when it comes to shaving is the electric shaver group who love using their rotating blades device to shave. I’ve gone electric a few times with different types such as the wet/dry electric models which lets you use shaving cream but ultimately I never could get a close a shave as I could with a regular razor….so I went back.

The Dollar a month Razor Club

I’m sure many of you have seen this video that went viral not long ago for a new dollar a month razor club. I have to say that I enjoyed it and think it was long overdue. I knew someone had to come up with a better/cheaper solution for cutting our faces.


The DORCO Club

Well, if that dollar a month deal wasn’t good enough for you, someone discovered an even better one. It was revealed that the dollar razor club actually gets its razors from The Dorco Online Store. You can find some excellent deals on decent grade razors with 6-blades! For example, here’s a 10 pack deal for only $10.50!

Double Edge Wet Shavers

Here’s a good piece from Lifehacker about old fashioned double edge wet shavers which includes using shaving brush to lather your face. Here’s a video of how to use the DE razor that your grandfather used to use.

Here’s a video of a young man comparing shaves with the double edge wet razor and the modern type power razor like the Gillette Fusion.

Summary
Would you be willing to give these types of deals a shot? Do you prefer electric razors or regular razors? Would you go old school and use the double edge razor or is the extreme cost worth the time saving that you get with the power razors? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Loving Two

This is an old piece that went around via emails way back when, long before the social web made things go viral easily. I was not a parent back then but I never forgot it and sure enough it was extremely poignant and totally true when I became a dad and then experienced having a second child. No one prepares you for all of the emotions that come with adding to your family. Sure there’s the joy and excitement that comes with the birth of any baby but I did not realize the mixed emotions that comes with having to share your love and more importantly your precious time with those you love and the new baby. This piece captures the anguish that comes part and parcel with building a family. Ultimately, the end result is usually good and everyone adjusts to the life changing shifts but it’s a long slow transition filled with doubt and confusion as everyone tries to handle their new roles.
It’s never easier with each child either. Don’t be fooled. Sure, you are not as shocked and taken aback by the tsunami of emotions as the first time but it’s still a difficult process and it still hurts until the transition is complete. You still miss the days when you had more time for those you have to steal time from in order to nurture and love the new born. Thus the circle of life.

I’ve also realized that no one’s ever talked about these same feelings that we men feel when we become fathers. Perhaps it’s because we feel a little ashamed for being so selfish and so needy, things men are taught not to ever be. Truth be told, it’s very difficult for men to accept the cold harsh truth that we will never again be the center of our lover’s universe because our child with be the sun we orbit from that moment forward. Our roles change instantly to protectors and nurturers. Yes, we can eventually arrange for date nights and babysitters but all we do is worry about the child and if we screened the temporary guardian well enough (especially if it’s a family member). You wind up talking about what your child did most of the time and cut the evenings short in order to rush back to them. As they get older you can have more focused couple time but as I said before things will never be the same as when the world was just the two of you…in your couple bubble.

However, as this wonderful piece reveals, you realize that it’s not merely the end of your original relationship but the dawning of a new and deeper stage where your family becomes three, four or more. You learn that there isn’t a finite amount of love to go around; you learn that love is indeed infinite and there’s always plenty to go around. We adapt and evolve and find ways to make time for everyone. All time becomes quality time because it’s filled with love.

LOVING TWO

I walk along holding your 2-year-old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship.
Suddenly I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited.
And I wonder, how could I love another child as I love you?

Then she is born, and I watch you.
I watch as the pain you feel at having to share me as you have never shared me before.

I hear you telling me in your own way, “Please love only me” and I hear myself telling you in mine “I can’t”.
Knowing in fact that I never can again.
You cry, I cry with you.
I almost see our baby as an intruder on the precious relationship we once shared.
A relationship we can never have again.

But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty.
I’m afraid to let you see me enjoying her — as though I am betraying you.
But then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection.

More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine.
The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast.
But something is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just us two.
There are new times — only now we are three.
I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other.

I watch how she adores you, as I have for so long.
I see how excited you are by each of her new accomplishments.
I begin to realize that I haven’t taken something from you, I’ve given something to you.
I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both of you.
I find that my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong.
And my question is finally answered to my amazement.
Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you, only differently.

And although I realize that you may have to share my time, I know you’ll never share my love.
There’s enough of that for both of you — you each have your own supply.

I love you both and I thank you both for blessing my life.

—Author Unknown

Are You Raising Entrepreneurs?

 

I originally wrote this post entitled “Be The Entrepreneur of Yourself” on my personal blog.  Upon further reflection, I think it also may be appropriate here on Dadomatic.  After all, I think instilling the entrepreneurial spirit in our kids is more important than ever.  What do you think?

Be The Entrepreneur of Yourself.

The world has changed.  My grandfather came to the United States at a young age, with a young son (my father) and he went to work in the Brooklyn shipping yard of an industrial pipe manufacturer.  He stayed with that same company for his entire career, a lifetime, working his way through the ranks from physical labor, to sales, to management, to the proverbial gold watch at retirement (in his case, semi-retirement… I come from a long line of workaholics.)

There Is No Such Thing As Job Security.

What was a relatively common experience for my grandfather – spending a career at one company – is virtually unheard of today.  The notion of “job security” simply does not exist anymore at any level, from the “C-suite” on down.  Today, the best job security one can have is to not need job security.  Today you truly need to be an entrepreneur.  You need to be the entrepreneur of yourself.  You are the startup.  These are the lessons I am trying to practice myself,* and instill upon my kids, all in their 20′s.  This is their world.

The Startup is YOU.

Being the entrepreneur of yourself does not mean you can’t be working as an employee for someone else’s company.  It does mean that you approach being an employee the way you would approach starting a business.  YOU are the business.  Your current product is the job you hold, and your mission is to attack that job as if it is your company, so that you can produce the best product possible – your work, and your work ethic.  Like a startup, you want to grow your business (yourself) and improve, and learn, perform well and grow a customer base of people who respect, rely upon, and value your product (you).

Be The Product.

When you are the product, and the product is simply awesome, your customers will stick with you. It is no different than with a company.  Apple customers buy every new product Apple makes because their products are great.  Your customers – your co-workers, employers, people you do business with, people you encounter online and off – will support your product – you – no matter what you are doing or where you are working, if your product is always awesome.

Stay Focused, But Plant Seeds.

As the entrepreneur of yourself, you need to stay focused on the product, but also remain aware of the marketplace.  Being awesome at your current job (current product) doesn’t mean you can’t also have a product roadmap for the future.  You need to.  To prepare your startup (you) to become a sustainable business, you need to have an eye on the future. You need to be aware of other products (opportunities) that may fit into your longer term plan, and you need to plant the seeds (reputation, relationships, resourcefulness) that will leave you prepared to roll out new products (changing a job, starting a new venture) when the market is ready.

I firmly believe that being the entrepreneur of yourself is the best way to take control of your own work destiny, so you can be ready to create your own opportunities within or without your current job.

Do you agree?  Are you the entrepreneur of yourself?  Are you teaching your kids to be the entrepreneurs of themselves?

(* In an attempt to practice what I preach, I recently updated my own product and changed my role from a full-time employee to that of a consultant in order to pursue additional opportunities including Social Object Factory. More on that soon…)

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Photo Credit: © Konstantin Li – Fotolia.com

Getting Back On The Bike: Cast of Dads #49

Spring is here and the Cast of Dads have sprung back into action with a new fun filled episode.  Next show will be EPISODE 50, a nice milestone for any podcast.  Thank YOU for listening to us rambling dads for all this time.  We greatly appreciate you putting up with us – er, listening to us, and hope you continue to enjoy the Podcast, and tell others to tune in as well.

As always we cover a lot of topics, from Max’s son’s first ride without training wheels, to the fantastic Dad2Summit that C.C., Brad and I had the pleasure of attending and participating in (big kudos to Doug French and his team for putting on a great event.)

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 49.

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, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Bro Code

“A bro must wait 3 weeks after he breaks up with a girl to engage with said girl.

If the girl dumps the bro then another bro may not date her unless the dumped bro proclaims it.

These are but 2 rules of The Bro Code that my son has created with his friends.  I share these 2 rules with you because I don’t know any of the other rules.  They are secret.  They are written down on a scroll and hidden somewhere.  I had to brow-beat my 14 year old son to get those 2 of the 54 rules out of him and he wouldn’t give up any more, even under the threat of vast punishments.  Secretly, I was actually proud that he didn’t give up anymore.  After all, The Bro Code doesn’t exist.  Wink wink.

I was reminded of course of the movie The Fight Club“.  You know the one.  Rule #1: You do not talk about Fight Club. My youngest son let the cat out of the bag as he often does and thus it began. But my son held firm, as firm as he could, against his father’s onslaught, and I was quite proud that he held his own.

If you think about it, men in general have a code amongst themselves I think.  For example, regardless of your relationship with the other guy, you do not talk to him when you enter a public restroom. You also do not let your eyes fall below shoulder level while there.  These are time-honored traditions that no man breaks.  It is our “Bro Code” so to speak.

As a man, you do not under any circumstances say to your wife that you can’t do something around the house.  If you don’t know, then you ask your father/brother/best friend/guy at the hardware store. But you never admit defeat to that water heater. A man fixes things.  That’s what we do.  So you keep your mouth shut and figure it out.  That’s the Bro Code.

I could go on, but you get my point.  Throughout time men have had Bro Codes, and I am proud my son is carrying on the tradition of being a man. I don’t know the rest of the Bro Code, but I am sure I would be proud.  So what’s your Bro Code?

Meatloaf Again??? Cast of Dads Episode 48

@HighTechDad and daughters backstage at America's Got Talent

2012 is already fast underway, and while it may seem like the Cast of Dads have been absent this year, we actually recorded a great show in January that was lost to the digital demons.  It was probably our best show ever – funny, poignant parenting tips… heartfelt fables of fatherhood… and so much more.  Alas, you will never hear it, and I will only be able to cherish it as a fading memory…

But… we did get together again and record a new show, complete with tales of Meatloaf, Movies and Howard Stern.  Enjoy!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 48.

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, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Treat Your Kids Like Rock Stars!

It was the limo that put the word “stretch” in Stretch Limo.  It was a long, luxurious, glistening and gaudy white limousine worthy of any superstar celebrity in need of a ride.  It was a head-turner, and it had just turned and pulled up in my driveway.  The driver sheepishly knocked on my door.  I looked at my watch.  It was about the time I needed to head to the airport for yet another business trip.  By this time, my kids had looked out the window and noticed the wheeled wonder blocking the family minivan.  Amidst screams of “who’s limo is that???” I answered the door.

“Mr. Sass?  I’m here to take you to the airport…”

I gazed beyond the driver to the beautiful behemoth in the driveway, and then, with puzzlement, at the man in my doorway.

“Oh, that?” he explained.  “All the town cars were out this morning, so I had to take the stretch.  Don’t worry. I’m only gonna charge you the Town Car rate.”

“Cool…” was about all I could say.  Then, as the driver grabbed my bags, I looked at my watch again.  It was tight, but there should be just enough time.  I asked the driver, “Do you mind if we make one quick stop along the way?”

*  *  *

Except for a little anxiety about making my flight, it was the one and only time I welcomed the long line of cars slowly creeping forward toward the student drop off zone.  Hawkes Bluff Elementary School was walking distance from our house so we only drove the kids to school if it was raining or if they were running late.  This morning was an exception. I welcomed the slow arrival, as did my kids, who waited until just enough of their fellow students were staring at the long limo before they rolled down the smoked glass to reveal who was inside.

By the time we rolled up to the drop off zone, two of my three kids were standing on the seat, heads poked out through the sunroof so they could wave and taunt their jealous classmates as we came to a stop in front of the sign waving school aide.  The smiling driver, donning a classic “chauffeur” cap and happily playing along, ceremoniously opened the limo door, and out popped the Sass kids to the imaginary popping of paparazzi and a red carpet only they could see.

Best school entrance evah!  (and one my kids, now in their 20′s, still talk about).

Have you ever had the chance to treat your kids like rock stars?

 

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Photo Credit: © andersphoto – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

My Son, The Mowerman, and the Toxic Crusaders (Or, How a 2-Year Old Helped Create a TV Villain)

When I lived in New York and was just starting my family, we moved to a house in Rockland County.  As someone who grew up in an apartment, and whose parents both grew up in apartments, it was my first experience with living in a house (and becoming a homeowner) and it was a bit of a shock to my system.  We had a large yard, a little more than an acre, and, determined to prove my worth as the “man of the house” I purchased a lawn mower.  Of course, having zero experience with lawn care, I first bought a standard push mower.  It was fantastic!   Every weekend I spent 8-10 hours covered in dirt and grass, itching, scratching and sneezing as I walked a dizzying, repetitive path back and forth and around my property.  It was the life… just not the life I wanted… so I purchased a riding mower.  Wheels!   So, now I only had to spend 4-6 hours every weekend as a poor old sod, caring for my sod.

Enter The Mowerman

After a few rides I knew the shiny red Snapper was not going to turn mowing the lawn into the “snap” I was hoping for.  I had to face the truth and acknowledge that I’m just not wired for lawn care.  No grass for Sass.  So I hired a guy named Terry to come do the lawn.  My oldest son Zach was around 2 at the time, and while he never seemed particularly interested when I was up to my sass in grass, for some reason he would always get all excited when Terry showed up to man the mower.  Zach would watch Terry from the window for hours at a time as he literally cut a path through our lawn and yard.  Eventually, Zach started calling Terry “Mowerman” and each weekend, when Terry would show up to kick some grass, Zach would start exclaiming, “Mowerman is here!  Mowerman is here!”

Take Inspiration Where It Strikes!

Back then I was working for Troma and we were in the midst of producing an animated Saturday morning cartoon series, The Toxic Crusaders.  I had been offered the opportunity to help write an episode of the goofy but environmentally friendly show, and Zach’s constant cries of “Mowerman” made their mark somewhere in the back of my mind.  I wanted to create a character that would appeal to my son, and so emerged a new super villain, the embodiment of shear evil (and a cut above Edward Scissorhands).  I created “Mowerman” – a hideously deformed bad guy, with superhuman shears and strength.   In the episode we called “Still Crazy After All These Shears,” Mowerman is hired by the dastardly Dr. Killemoff to help in a plot to thwart Toxie and the Toxic Crusaders!

While I wasn’t able to thrill Zach by mowing my own lawn, I certainly was his hero for bringing his Mowerman to life on TV!  Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found The Toxic Crusaders on Hulu.  Here’s the episode that introduced Mowerman to the world back in 1990.  Watch it with your kids, and let me know what you think.

Have your kids been the inspiration for something you have done at work?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

 

You Blink, and They’re Gone

The other night I had the occasion to be in the emergency room in the middle of the night, which is another post for another day.  What I want to talk about in this post is what I saw that night.

The emergency room was empty with the exception of one other family. They were waiting on their elderly father who had been brought in earlier and they were casually chatting about various things that had happened that day in their lives.  From the looks of it, they were not overly concerned about what was happening to their father.

Then the doctor came out.

It took about 30 seconds for the entire family to go from mildly normal to complete meltdown.  My wife and I sat there and watched them fall apart standing there in the hallway, with the doctor and nurse trying to hop from person to person and comfort them. It was obvious that the family was not prepared for his heart to stop and did not expect that his last night was that night.

After they left the room we sat there in a room that was completely silent.  We looked at each other and both knew that one day we would be standing there. God forbid it’s one of the kids, more likely one of our parents. Regardless, I don’t look forward to that day when I am standing there listening to the words come out of the doctor’s mouth.

Which brings me to this.  You’ve heard it before, so I don’t really think I’m giving you any deep philosophical insight here.  One day you’ll blink, and they’ll be gone.  Whoever it is, they’ll be gone. So you need to call them.  Today.  And tell them you love them.  Better yet, hug their neck. Twice.

Meet The Parents (Cast of Dads & Sass Edition)

Meet the Parents

From the lost film archives… Meet The Parents (my parents…):

Once we become parents ourselves, our perspective on our own parents changes.  Suddenly many of the things that annoyed us about our folks when we were young begin to make perfect sense.  We see ourselves interacting with our kids in ways similar to how our parents interacted with us.  We see ourselves in our parents in bigger, deeper ways than perhaps we ever have, when we look at the world through the eyes of a parent ourselves.  Talking with our parents about parenthood can be both frightful and insightful as we realize how everything has come full circle in our roles as both a child and a parent.  A few years ago I introduced my parents here on Dadomatic as part of a Sony Digidad project.  Here’s another chance to “Meet The (Sass) Parents…”

Back in April I had the pleasure of going on a Cast of Dads road trip courtesy of Ford and Sony.  Fellow Cast of Dads hosts C.C. Chapman, Brad Powell and I drove from Boston to New York in a shiny new gadget-laden Ford Explorer.  We brought along talented DadLabs cameraman, director and filmmaker Danny Cameron to help document the Journey.  While I have already shared some of the videos of the trip as well as pictures from the NY International Auto Show and an awesome performance by Train, we recently uncovered the lost video of the Cast of Dads taking my parents for a ride (with the clear intent of leveraging them to embarrass me…)  We hijacked them from their apartment for a “taxicab confessions” style ride around Manhattan.  While I silently drove the Explorer, Brad and C.C. grilled my parents for a true touch of Sass…

Have you recently captured video of your parents?  I highly recommend grabbing your smartphone or camera and interviewing your parents on video.  I know my kids and I will cherish these videos for a long time, and I’m thankful to Sony, Ford, Cast of Dads and Dadomatic for pushing me to record my parents.  What do you think?

 

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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 and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Love is Action Not Just Words

Everyone gives love lip service but it’s action not just words. We men especially need to learn that it’s important for us to show our love with actions and not just our mouth. It’s what we do that counts the most. It isn’t the flowers or mushy greeting card or expensive gifts, but the every day little things we do for our wife and kids. (Oh, that doesn’t mean you can stop getting those things by the way! Do that at your own peril).

Here’s a great example from *He’s Just Not That Into You* where the Jennifer Anniston character visits her parents’ home to visit her ailing dad and she sees her sisters’ husbands all watching a football game and then sees her ex-boyfriend (played superbly by Ben Afflack) in the kitchen doing dishes after doing the laundry and some food shopping for her dad.
Kitchen Scene

Here’s the follow up scene where she realizes that her boyfriend was more of a husband than her sisters’ husbands will ever be.
Also the finale of the movie so don’t watch it if you haven’t seen it yet and plan to (I highly recommend it!) *Spoiler Alert!*
Ending of He’s Just Not That Into You

Are You Old Enough For Facebook?

English: "G" rating of Motion Pictur...

Image via Wikipedia

This is a post I wrote on my own blog a few months back. I thought it would fit nicely here with the dadomatic community. If you have children and you let them play on social media websites, or are wondering what to do because your child is asking for a Facebook/Twitter/Google Plus account, this is my approach/opinion. There is no right or wrong way to approach social media with children. I think teaching them to follow the rules is what is important.

Well, we (my wife and I) decided to let our oldest daughter have a Facebook account. She’s fourteen now. Facebook “rules” state children must be at least thirteen. I have seen many parents circumvent that rule and let their children younger than thirteen have an account. I’m not sure what use it is to a six, seven, ten or even twelve year old. Personally, I think doing that teaches children to disrespect the rules, and authority. It tells children it’s okay to break the rules when it suits you. If you are one of those parents, don’t be surprised when they break YOUR rules. You have set the precedent.

We took our time, and learned the pros and cons of social networking before allowing our oldest to participate. And of course it is still evolving. Naturally, our daughter has been wanting one since she turned thirteen, as most, if not all her friends were already on Facebook too, and Facebook says it’s okay at thirteen. But we know from personal experience it can be a time waster. And there are hidden dangers lurking on the Internet. So we wanted to be sure she understood how to use the social networking tool. With the privacy settings changing regularly, we felt additional precautions were necessary. After all, WE as parents get to decide when our children are old enough for, and have a reasonable reason for using Facebook. Thirteen is the age Facebook is comfortable with, but you don’t have to sign your child up immediately on their thirteenth birthday. We didn’t. And now we are confident enough in the service’s privacy settings and in our daughter for understanding the need to be selective and cautious.
We’re encouraging our family members and close friends to connect with her. However we also think about how some people, even family and close friends, are not careful about what they post and not selective about who gets to read their content. I want to remind you that there are minors on Facebook, as well as the rest of the Internet. Either your friends have children they allow on Facebook or maybe you have children that you allow on Facebook. You should be selective what you post and who you allow to see your posts. Since there is no preview option (nor is it logical to have one)  for parents to prescreen their children’s newsfeed, photos, notes and other options, we are left to trust the network of friends and family we allow to connect with our children to be guardians of the community when we are not there.

One feature that Facebook and Google Plus have is “list” (Facebook) or “circles” (G+) where you can place your friends, family or other connections. People will only see the content posted to the list or circle you placed them in, and people don’t know what list they have been placed in. Please use the list/circle feature with your friends and please put minors on a G-rated content list, meaning that what YOU post to that list is G-Rated. And I did say G-Rated because PG means Parental Guidance, and it is just not rational to expect parents to sit right next to their children during their Facebook time all the time.

If you need help learning how to use the “list” function, I am happy to explain. You can connect with me through my website at www.charlieprofit.com

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

From stuffed animals to puppy dogs

This past weekend I was completing one of my to-do items on my list, and figured the new year was as good an excuse as any to get it done!  I have a stack of home movies of my kids on VCR tapes that I have been meaning for years to get converted to DVDs before the tapes gum up and fall apart.  It’s not hard, I do it all the time, but it’s kinda like a plumber with leaky pipes… it always gets pushed to the bottom of the list. But I finally finished it.  It was a blast watching these videos of my kids as babies, and I must confess to tearing up more than once. The same weekend I was cleaning out the attic and making room for all the new junk that must go in the attic and I had more moments that caused me to pause.  There was something that I kept running across, in both the videos and in the attic.

Stuffed animals.  

All kinds of stuffed animals. I had forgotten about most of them, but all those memories came flooding back to me of having to buy them, wash them, repair them, hide them, find them, and wash them again. My boys loved those little stuffed animals that they dragged all over the yard, the house, and of course they couldn’t go to sleep without them. I guess when I was in the middle of the madness that is raising little children I never noticed just how many there were until I watched those videos. And how they all ended up in the attic stuffed into every nook and crannie I’ll never know.

The family pet

When I was a kid we had a pet dog named J.D.. As far back as I can remember he was there. I guess I never knew any different growing up that we had a dog, and just about all my friends had family dogs too. But when it came to my own house full of kids, for years I refused to get a dog. It was going to be too much hassle, too much money, too much poop. So for years I refused even though our kids begged for a dog. When we finally gave in we realized just how much our kids wanted to love something like that and how important it was for them.

Even with my own past of having a family pet it just escaped me how important it is to have one. Had I realized it sooner, my kids would have had one sooner.  Sorry guys.  I have come to realize that kids need things to love. That’s why they desire those little stuffed animals and nurture them like they do. And the next natural extension of that is the family pet. We have 2 dogs now, each with their own personality, good sides, and bad sides. They are truly another family member and our kids look at them just like that.

I look at those stuffed animals a little differently now. They taught my kids how to love and take care of something that needs taking care of.  Now, if I could just get the kids to take the dogs out more often, everything would be just about perfect.

Father Time and Fatherhood

Today’s the day.  Another year slips into our memories as the clock ticks forward into 2012.  As parents, nothing should be more cherished than time, for it is a resource that can never be replenished.  A moment past is just that… a moment that has moved from now to then.  A moment that can no longer be lived, but can only be remembered. Memories are wonderful, and valuable, but they are not living.  Father time is a greedy bastard.  He takes far more than he gives… if we let him.

A Momentous Task

Our children provide us with so many moments…  They grow and learn and change so fast that each and every moment we share with them is unique and special and wonderful, because there will never again be another moment exactly like it.  That first smile, word, step, trip on the school bus, trip and fall in the yard, bike ride without training wheels, finger painting, poop on the toilet, poop in the pants, class play, play date, graduation, first crush, first time crushed by love, pimples, dimples, simple questions, questions that can’t be answered, ways they make you question yourself, seeing yourself in them, them seeing themselves in you, you driving them everywhere, them learning to drive, driving you crazy, keeping you driven.    All of these moments we can only remember and never re-live.  As a father of kids who are now in their 20′s, I often reflect upon all of the moments past and passed.  How many of them was I really there for?  How many of them did I let slip by and become a memory without truly recognizing and appreciating the moment itself, at the moment?   The good news is that I did really, truly, enjoy many of the moments with my children, and still do.  The bad news is, I also let way too many moments pass without notice or recognition, and still do.

Seizing the Moments

Without formally calling it a resolution, I am going to work harder in 2012 to seize more of the moments with my children and appreciate them now, while they are happening.  Being a dad is a life’s work, and our kids bring us joy, pride and countless moments to live in together regardless of how old we and they grow.  Father Time can only take our Fatherhood moments if we let him…

How about you?  Are you ready to live in the moments of 2012?  I am going to take this moment to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Photo Credit: © iQoncept – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Macaroni and Cheesy… Cast of Dads Episode 47

Macaroni & Cheese Stuffed Turkey by Chef Zach Sass

The Cast of Dads got together to talk turkey (or in my case, Tofurkey) in the 47th episode of our (almost) weekly gabfest.  As always, we are hard pressed to stay on any one topic for too long, and we run the gamut from Thanksgiving dinners to toddler vandalism to kids pooping in the dryer.  Yes, there is no topic too small or too cheesy for the Cast of Dads to tackle.  Enjoy!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 47.

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!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

 

Gambling With My Kids’ Money

We learned about gambling at this year’s vacation.

The resort gave us three $10 vouchers to double any $10 bet we placed at the roulette or card tables.

With the kids waiting in the lobby, I placed a two-for-one bet and won on red.

I came back to announce I had won $20.

What should we do with the winnings? I asked them: We can walk away now with $20 or we can have Mom place a $10 bet with our winnings, leaving us with $10 in winnings.

“Bet it,” they said, recognizing we were playing with money with didn’t have moments earlier.

We returned quickly and shared the bad news. “Mom lost. We have two $5 chips left.”

“I’ll tell you what,” I challenged. “You can each have $5 of our winnings. You can keep the $5 and we can leave right now or you can join together and have me bet your $10.”

It was interesting and fun watching them debate what to do with their money. First eight-year-old Lucas, who badgered me all week about how gambling was “stupid” once I shared my slanted description of the pastime, decided he would keep his $5. 10-year-old Zachary hemmed and hawed and finally decided to have me bet his $5.

When he learned “if Zachary wins, he will keep all the winnings,” Lucas decided to bet his $5 as well. We let them choose which color to bet on, so they would take full responsibility for the outcome.

Zachary put out two hands and asked Lucas to pick one. Lucas chose Zach’s left hand and Zach announced, “Bet on red!”

So Mom and Dad went back to the roulette table and did as we were instructed.

The kids were jumping out of their seats as we approached them. “Did you win?!?!”

Thumbs down. No, we lost, and you could see them deflate. Now we won nothing and lost nothing. I had four $5 chips left. This was the money Beth and I started with. I pushed the lesson further.

“Would you like me to make another bet for you? This would be with your own money. I will lend you $5 and you will pay me back no matter what happens. If you win, you keep everything.”

 

 

This time Lucas would not take the bait. He held $5 and saw it go away. Zach “felt bad” about losing the money and wanted a chance to win it back. He took the bet – and when it paid off – he was deliriously jumping around. “I’m so happy!” he danced about his new fortune.

“I could bet it again and you could make even more money,” I taunted Zach.

“NO! NO! No more bets!”

The Next Day
The next day I asked both what they thought of gambling.

“Not a good idea,” said Lucas, now $5 poorer, “because you can lose your money, all the money that you bet. You can win money, and you do another gamble, and then you lose the amount of dollars that you won.”

Zachary said, “I can see how gambling can be addicting for other people because they see they are winning money but then they forget they are losing money too. They might say, ‘I just won! Maybe I can do it the next time!’ And casinos basically make it impossible for you to do any actually winning unless you win in the beginning and you quickly leave. Very few people win big in the casino.”

He concluded, “It’s hard to predict my future but probably, no, I won’t be addicted to gambling because now I’ve learned younger not to play the ‘Cheese Caper’ slot machines.”

Your kids
How have you broached the subject with your kids? Any wisdom to share here?

:: Joe Hage is chief storyteller for Medical Marcom, a medical devices marketing consultancy helping medical companies become more approachable and engaging. ::

On Parenting, Kites and Balloons

Eddy, Cross, Malay or Diamond toy kite with tail

Image via Wikipedia

As I have now watched my three kids grow, evolve, morph and mature from helplessly adorable infants to helpful and independent young adults, I find myself thinking a lot about my own evolving role as a parent.  As much as our kids change, so do we, and so do the strings we have attached to our children.

STRING THEORY

When they are infants, the tie between us and our kids is like a chain – they must be constantly and solidly connected to us, as they rely on their parents for just about everything in their tiny world view.  We provide food, shelter, comfort, learning, even mobility.  If the chain between us breaks, they are relatively helpless.  Until they discover crawling and walking.  Suddenly their world has become much larger, along with their sense of freedom to explore such world.  Suddenly our grip loosens just a bit, and what was once a chain is now a less restrictive rope.  Then they move from the world parents can totally control, to the real world of schools and playgrounds and chaos.  The rope becomes a string, still attached strongly enough for us to easily yank them back under our protective wing, but with each passing year the string gains slack, and our kids gain more and more independence.

TAKING FLIGHT

As they move into their teens, our kids miraculously grow wings and are determined to take flight at every opportunity.  They have an innate desire to test the boundaries of their growing sense of self and independence.  They are seemingly compelled to pull the string between us as taught as possible, challenging its strength and our ability to remain in control.  As their increasing self-confidence drives them to take flight, they become like a kite at the end of our string, pulling hard in the wind, whipping back and forth to find a comfortable path, while we run along below them, tightly grasping the string, fighting to exert as much control and guidance upon the kite’s journey as we can.  Sometimes we enjoy the synchronous calm of a perfect balance… and sometimes it simply seems impossible to keep the damn kite from a nosedive to the ground.

LETTING GO

Finally, our children become young adults, and while they are not really kids anymore, our desire to hold onto that string is as strong as ever.  They will always be our kids, and we will always be their parents.  It is a constant that cannot be broken, perhaps the only one of its kind.  As they go off on their own –  to college, to jobs, to their own homes, to start their own families – they rise aloft, no longer pulling like a kite, but rather soaring boldly and gracefully like a bright and colorful balloon at the end of our string.  And like that balloon, at some point we have to let go of the string and look up, smiling in awe as we watch them soar off magnificently on their own…


Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Silent Cries for Help

Despite all of the attention that the subject matter of bullying has gotten recently, the pain and anguish continues. More and more victims are trying to get the word out such as this young man whose video on YouTube has become viral as he shares his torture silently by holding up cards describing his living hell which has continued for over 8 years and no one is helping him.

Remember this, everyone believes their child is an angel so no one wants to accept the fact that their child could be one of these cold, heartless bullies that ridicules and hurts other kids…something physically, but always mentally and emotionally. Many times these innocent kids take their own lives because their life is that difficult to take. They feel hopeless, worthless and give up the will to live. We can do something about this by becoming more aware and involved…not just with our own children but all children and our school systems. If you’re a young person who becomes a witness to this abuse, no matter how minor it seems, you must get involved, even if it’s secretly by telling a teacher, principal or another adult. Anyone who ignores these acts of aggressive and disrespect becomes an accomplice to the crime.

Here are some other pieces we’ve done on Dad-O-matic on this important subject matter:
The Bully Pulpit (my very first piece for DOM)
Protecting Our Precious Angels
Chris Cuomo’s special on 20/20 on Bullying (includes links to many useful tools and resources to deal with bullying)
Losers:EveryOne (anti-bullying video)

Because it’s so powerful, here is the trailer for The Bully Project movie

27 Dads, 27 Mustaches – A Movember Story

DADS OF SUMMIT HEIGHTS PS

Last year, a bunch of the teachers at my daughter’s school formed a team and participated in Movember. For those of you not familiar, during Movember men around the world grow mustaches in the month of November, to raise money and awareness to fight prostate cancer and other men’s health issues.  All the kids rallied around the teachers and got involved. You could tell the kids were proud of those teachers and they should have been.

So this year, my friend Alan had an idea. He thought it would be fun if a bunch of dads from the school formed a Movember Team. He sent out an email to the school dads he knew, and asked everyone to pass it on to anyone else they knew in the neighborhood.

I thought it was a great idea and a bunch of the other dads did too. I figured it was a great opportunity to teach my daughters about charity, and let’s face it, when you get a chance to do something your kids can be proud of  you have to take it. The fact that we would have to get together as a group, and that there may be beer present at such a gathering didn’t hurt either.

When November started, about 15 dads were on the Dads of Summit Heights PS Movember Team. That number quickly grew to 27. What none of us expected, is what we would accomplish.

The Principal, Thelma Sambrook, and the staff and children at Summit Heights have been very supportive.  Word spread through the neighborhood and school district, and people started donating not just to us individually, but to the team. With a few days left in November, our small group of dads has raised more money than all but 35 teams in all of Canada.

Think about that. Movember is pretty big up here in Canada. I know everywhere you look here in Toronto, there is a guy growing a mustache. All of the big and high profile companies get teams together. Local newscasters, large corporations, banks, all take part. And our group of dads has raised more money than all but 35 teams. We’ve raised over $22,000.

One of the dads has done some calculations and he’s figured that our average contribution per teammate is well above that of the top 3 fundraising teams. It’s also been pointed out that we have raised more money than the Parliament of Canada. Just 27 dads.

The school had an assembly and invited us. The Principal talked about Movember and called us up in front of the kids. It was that chance to make our kids proud. The kids were out there in the audience, all of them with mustaches painted on. When I spotted my daughters and made eye contact, the look on their faces- it was pretty awesome.  The whole thing was pretty special. All because a dad had an idea and acted on it.

To support the Dads of Summit Heights PS Movember effort, you can donate to me or the team here.

The reason I wanted to tell this story though, is that it’s pretty amazing what this small group of dads has done. I’m proud to be a small part of it. Sometimes it feels like one person can’t make a difference. I’m here to tell you they can. One dad had an idea, and 26 others joined him and raised over $22,000 to fight prostate cancer. Imagine what you and 26 of your friends can do. Then do it.

Ian Gordon is the father of two daughters (8 and 3).  He is a digital marketing professional, and host of the Startup Daddy podcast.

Parents Are Lucky When It Comes To Thankful

As parents we are in a special club when it comes to being thankful.  We are in a club that knows, firsthand, from within every cell, every molecule, every essence of our being, what it means to have something to be thankful for.  To have children to be thankful for.   This is because there is no greater bond than the bond one feels for a child.  There is no greater love, no love more pure, than the love a parent feels for their child.  Yes, we love our own parents.  Yes, we love our spouses and our partners and our girlfriends and boyfriends, and our pets, but it is not the same.  No other being is an extension of you, now and forever, in the way your child is.  No other being looks up to you in that way… relies on you in that way… draws upon you in that way… is influenced by you in that way… or influences you in that way.

Yes, they put tremendous pressure on us (and our bank accounts).  Yes, they make us want to scream and cry, but they also make us laugh and sing.  They keep us young.  They keep us warm with pride with every step, every accomplishment, every hug, every smile, every scrape, every tear.  They make us whole.  They make every challenge we face, every hurdle we jump, every mountain we climb, totally worth it.  Life is worth it because of them.  Every parent can look up “joy” in the dictionary and see a picture of their child, their children.

So today, and every day, I am thankful for my children.  For the wonder and wonderful they bring to my life each and every day.  I am thankful for being a dad, and especially for being their dad.  I am thankful, and full of thanks.

I know you are thankful for your kids too.  Let them know.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Photo Credit: © Arcady – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Many Kids Can You Have Before Adultitis Takes Over?

Does having more kids increase your chances of Adultitis?

If so, how many kids can you have before it takes over your life completely?

This sums up a question I recently received through our website. Here it is in its entirety:

“Hi guys, if it’s not too personal of a topic, I was wondering if you had plans to try for more kids at some point. My husband and I go back and forth on whether our daughter (now one) should be an only child. On the one hand, the families I see with lots of kids seem to be extremely caught up in Adultitis, stress, and the daily grind. It seems like having more kids often creates an intense division of Us vs. Them between the parents and kids. I sometimes think we’d have more fun with just our daughter since right now we play all day and travel and do all kinds of things we all want to do.

On the other hand, we adore our daughter and think she’s a blast so maybe more would be a blast too. Do you have any thoughts on the number of kids in regards to Adultitis and having a fun life? Thanks!”

I’m sure a ton of people can relate to this. I know I can.

The answer, fortunately, is very simple.

1.75

That’s exactly how many kids you can have and still expect a relatively Adultitis-free life.

I’m kidding, of course. The reality is that you can find Adultitis-ridden people who have 12 kids, 3 kids, 1 kid, or no kids at all. It reminds me of the people who warned us before welcoming our first child into the world that kids are actually the cause of Adultitis. That worried me until other people started to assure me that kids are in fact the cure to Adultitis. That’s when I realized it had nothing to do with kids (or even the number of kids) at all.

Yes, more kids equals more mouths to feed, more bodies to clothe, more schedules to juggle and more cell phones to buy. But it also offers more variety, more liveliness, more laughter, and more hands to help with the household chores. When it comes to Adultitis, there is no panacea — it’s coming hard after every one of us, whether we are young, old, married or single, childless, or that old lady who lived in a shoe.

The grass always looks greener on the other side, but it still needs to be cut.

Kim and I kept a journal during our first year of parenthood, and we learned something very valuable through the process. Our Adultitis levels had more to do with our attitudes and the choices we made than with the fact that we had a new little being under our care. Being parents has presented us with trials that were harder than we’d ever faced before. But we’ve also experienced joys we could have only dreamed of before we had kids. Adultitis tends to dissipate when you spend the bulk of your time focusing on (and appreciating) the joys more than the trials.

All that being said, there are some keys that I think are worth remembering:

  • You don’t have to say yes to everything. Your schedule doesn’t have to match the Jones’. They’re nuts, after all.
  • Set aside one day a week reserved for family — no exceptions. It’s so much easier to navigate the craziness of a busy week when you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel in which you can all just “be.”
  • Your kids don’t have to be involved in every extra curricular activity under the sun. Try sticking to one at a time. (Don’t worry, they’ll still get into college.)
  • You can do a lot of things with kids that most people claim you can’t. Travel is just one of them.
  • Make it a priority to have dinner together every night. It has been proven to help kids get better grades and minimizes their risk of getting involved in drugs and premarital sex.
  • Model playfulness and an attitude of not taking yourself too seriously, at least as much as you try to foster honesty, discipline, and a good work ethic.
  • No one ever said on their deathbed that they wish they’d spent more time at the office.
  • Kids don’t need a lot of STUFF. What they need most is TIME.
  • Parenting is a hard gig. No one passes with flying colors. Let this reality sink in, let the pressure to be perfect disappear, and have fun!

In the end, when it comes to Adultitis, the number of kids you have is irrelevant.

What really matters are the choices you make and the attitude you adopt.

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. Escape Adulthood — stop by www.KimandJason.com and check out their new book, Just You Wait: Adventures in Fighting Adultitis as First-Time Parents.

A Hair Raising Month: Cast of Dads #46

November is Movember and thus there is an abundance of facial hair around the Cast of Dads.  Please consider supporting the cause and donating to Max, Brad, Michael or C.C.‘s efforts to raise money and awareness to fight cancer in men.

As the holidays are already approaching it is exciting to see that we are fast approaching our 50th episode of the Cast of Dads podcast.  What should we do special for show 50?  Let us know your thoughts…

Meanwhile, in episode 46 we touch on some current events and then some…

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 46.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads, 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, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Real Hages of Washington

More fun for free: Make a comic strip of your very own family life.

Yes, this really happened.

:: Joe Hage is chief storyteller for Medical Marcom, a medical devices marketing consultancy helping medical companies become more approachable and engaging. ::

Pistol Grips, Reduced Gravity, and Problem Solving

A pistol grip on a AK-74U reduces the recoil and improves accuracy.

By taking advantage of reduced gravity you can buy yourself a few seconds of advantage as you jump over your opponent.

If you wait a few seconds before firing and allow more of them to come into the picture you can take out more zombies at once and save your ammunition.

These are some of the finer points that my 11-year old shared with me about the latest game he is playing on xbox 360. I could see the wheels turning in his head as he explained to me what steps he figured out to take that allowed him to accomplish this or that level of the game.

I have complained on more than one occasion about some of the sad state of affairs regarding some of today’s latest video games. Some of the video games we played as kids were gruesome to be sure, but nothing like the realistic violence that you see in these games today.  And don’t get me started on the language that you hear in these games. I imagine that the language in World War II on the battlefield was quite colorful, it’s just not something that you expect to hear coming from your kid’s room. And I feel my own share of guilt when I find myself wanting to play the games too, but I digress.

The bottom line is that I have come to see some value in the finer points of zombie killing. Here is what I mean…

To be successful in today’s modern video games requires sufficient problem solving skills. And in many of these games you have to work together as a team.  A true team.  I have played some games with my kids where we had to work together in the game to advance.  I was a serious anchor around the necks of my kids as I just wasn’t up to the task. I didn’t get the big picture and my kids were quick to instruct me about which task I needed to be concentrating on while they did their job.

I have my own complaints about the language and over-the-top violence in today’s game, but I am starting to see some value in how my kids are learning some problem-solving and team-building skills.  I am still quick to remind my kids that we don’t use that kind of language around here, but I have a strange sense of pride that my 11-year old knows the magazine capacity of an AK-47.

What Do Babies Think?

I am still trying to figure out what my kids are thinking (and they are all in their 20′s!)  Even so, I clearly remember the wonder of discovery on each of their faces as they grew from infancy to toddlerhood and explored the small, but fascinating world around them.  Witnessing the rapid pace they grow, change, advance, and absorb information is one of the true joys of parenthood, as we are driven to laughter and tears trying to figure out just what’s going on inside the brains of our babes…

In this wonderful video from TED Global this summer, Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, gives a fascinating look inside the mind of our babies, and explains why “childhood” is so important to all of us.

What do you think?  Professor Gopnik says being a baby is like “being in love in Paris for the first time after you’ve had 3 double espressos.”  Do you agree?  Do you make time to act like a child?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What I Learned Having Dinner With My Kids

I had dinner with two of the three Sasslets the other night. It is hard to still call them “Sasslets” as my daughter, the youngest, just left her teens behind by turning twenty. Yes, she’s been Daddy’s little girl for twenty years, and that’s how long I’ve been wrapped around her finger.

While I still find the opportunity to occasionally play referee to sibling spats, dinner with the kids is now mostly filled with adult conversation, increasingly about “work” and the work world. I have to admit, it has been very rewarding to take on the additional parenting role of “career mentor” along with all the other many hats us dads (and moms) wear. This night, however, the teacher was the one getting schooled, as I gained some valuable insights from the experiences my kids were having at their respective jobs.

Service With A Smile

Both Olivia and her oldest brother Zach work in the restaurant business and were sharing stories from their respective companies. They both work for successful chains, one a coffee, baked goods and sandwich place, and the other a higher end Italian Restaurant. In both cases, it was interesting for me to hear the kids talk about how strongly customer focused their employer organizations were. In both cases, coincidentally, it is company policy (strictly enforced) to refer to customers as “guests” at all times, and to treat them as guests. To quote my son, “as if they were guests in our house.” From the conversation, it was clear that this customer – er, guest centric mindset was being deeply ingrained in my kids’ burgeoning business ethic. Not a bad thing, I thought.

Be Our Guest

Then I realized that most businesses could similarly learn from this hospitality mentality. Working in the mobile Internet and mobile entertainment space, I more often refer to the people who visit my company’s web sites or download our apps as “users.” Perhaps “guest” is a much better way to think of our customers. After all, in today’s world practically every industry is in the service business, as products, information, apps and entertaiment all vie for the attention of consumers, and isn’t someone willing to give you their attention the same as being your guest?

What do you think? What have you learned from your kids lately?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Why Generation Y Is Better Than You and I

kidsEvery time I talk about things regarding ‘back in the day…’ I start to sound like that old guy who yells at kids to get off his lawn. If there is anything universal I think it’s old people complaining about young people. And I have done my fair share for sure. I often get invited to come talk to groups about Generation Y and how to integrate them into the workforce and into organizations. I have had the distinct pleasure of working with thousands of young people for a decade, both teaching them and hiring them to work in my own organization.  And I have seen over the past decade how technology has transformed a generation of kids, and it hasn’t all been positive. I have written about it alot, I have spoken about it alot, and I have come to believe alot of things about Generation Y. And in at least one aspect, Generation Y kids are better than I ever was.

The other day my 14 year old son was talking to my mother.  Just chit chatting mind you, nothing really serious. I happened to be nearby and started listening to their conversation.  “So how are you doing? How are things going?” This is what my son asks my mother. They then began to talk about how my mother was doing. He sat at her feet, looked in her eyes, and concentrated on what she was saying, showing genuine interest. And that is where Generation Y is different.

You see, Generation Y has some big problems. They spend too much time exhibiting ‘continuous partial attention’ so they never go very deep on much of anything.  They must be constantly entertained and are easily bored. They need constant praise and attention. They are demanding about the things they want and are very impatient. But they are also very concerned for others, about how they feel, and they care deeply for others. They don’t judge others and are more accepting of others. And that can’t be said by too many from my generation.

I can’t remember the last time that I sat at my mom’s feet and just concentrated on her. I am always busy. I always have someplace to go and things to do. Yeah, I constantly hear the words ‘And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon’ ringing in my head. My 14 year old son instinctively knows how much my mom needs that. He doesn’t question why she thinks the things she does or argue with her. He just accepts her, listens to her even when she moans and complains, and by his actions shows her that he cares about her. And he isn’t alone. Many Generation Y kids are the same way.

Generation Y has their own baggage to carry, some of which was probably placed there by the way that we raised them, but one thing is for sure: I can learn a lesson or two, or three, from them.

Giving Your Kids The Business

I am pretty sure I am in the minority here (here being Dadomatic).  I am likely one of the few dads with grown children and an empty nest.  In the three years I have been writing for Dadomatic I’ve gone through both High School and College graduations and have seen my three kids go forth into the world on their own. But of course they are not really on their own.  Us kids are never fully on our own, and us parents are never not parents.  That’s why, even though I no longer see my kids every day, or wipe their butts, or walk them to the bus stop, I still love to write and talk about being a dad.  Being dad is still, and always will be, the most important and rewarding thing I do.

From Homework to Work Work

As the parent now of young adults, I have entered an entirely new phase of phatherhood, with an entirely new set of challenges and joys.  Instead of helping with homework I’m now often asked for help with real work, as in a job.  My oldest son is currently away on his first business trip, and before he left we talked at length about business travel.  I fondly recalled my own first business trip, when I was about his age, and all the things I’ve learned in hundreds of trips and hundreds of thousands of miles since.  Here are some of the quick tips I gave him as advice for his first official business trip:

  • Know where you’re going and be on time – When you arrive the day before your meetings, if time permits, scope out the location of where you’ll be going for your meetings the next day, so in the morning you already know the way, and can easliy show up a few minutes early without stressing over finding your way as a stranger in a strange land.
  • Socialize, but don’t party – A really important part of business travel is having the chance to socialize with co-workers and business associates outside the normal environment.  You should take full advantage of going out for meals and drinks, especially with supervisors and those senior to you, who you otherwise may rarely get the chance to “get to know” and develop a more personal relationship with.  All that said, limit your drinking (no matter what the rest of the group is doing) and don’t go so far as to get drunk.  Have fun, be yourself, but not your wild self.
  • Business first on a business trip – You’re being sent on the road to do a job, and as much as travel may remind you of a vacation, you’re not on vacation.  Work should come first, but if you do have downtime, explore the city you’re in by taking a walk or going for a run.
  • Try something new – When you’re grabbing a meal, avoid the same national chains you can visit at home. Instead check out the local establishments that are unique to the city you’re in.
  • Carpe your Per Diem – They are giving you spending money to cover your meals during the trip.  Spend for food and incidentals well within your per diem budget amounts, so you can come home with a little extra cash in your pocket.  If you’re invited to eat with business associates, do so.  (He might as well get used to a few little perks of business travel…)

I am very proud of all my kids and watching them enter the “real” world is every bit as thrilling as it was watching them on the first day of nursery school.  As a parent, every new milestone for a child brings miles of enjoyment.

What do you think?  Would you have any other tips for a first business trip?  I’d love to hear from other parents of young adults.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 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:© ioannis kounadeas – Fotolia.com

Zachary, 10 Years Later: A 9/11 Reflection

We were getting ready for church. I was shaving.

“Zachary,” I said, “They are probably going to be talking about 9/11 today at church.”

“So is this a national holiday?”

“No, I wouldn’t say ‘holiday.’ It is a day of reflection.”

Lucas asked, “What does ‘reflection’ mean?”

I answered, “Reflection means ‘thinking about.’ People will be thinking about what they were doing 10 years ago today. I didn’t come home to your mother 10 years ago. I was in New Jersey and I couldn’t get back into Manhattan.”

“Why?” Zach asked.

“Because they shut all the bridges and tunnels.”

“Why?”

“Because they were afraid something else bad was going to happen.”

I continued, “I remember when I finally got home the next day. Momma was pregnant with you and I remember thinking, ‘What kind of world are we bringing Zachary into?’”

“One that I could make better,” he said without a pause.

Wow.

:: Joe Hage is the chief storyteller for Medical Marcom, a medical devices marketing consultancy helping medical companies become more approachable and engaging. ::

Words are heavy

anvilIt is pretty darn easy for my 14 yr old son to get under the skin of my 11 yr. old. He knows exactly what to say to send his brother into orbit and cause a ruckus.  I think pretty much every family can say the same thing, right? Your kids figure out pretty quickly, even before they can talk, what will get under the skin of their siblings. I honestly think there is some secret joy that siblings get when they do this. I am pretty confident that I did this with my brother when I was younger, but I can’t remember any of it, although I am sure he remembers.

I think the same thing is also true of the things that parents say to their kids. There are certain things that we can say to our kids that will cause a reaction, even if we don’t realize it.

The other day I was in the store getting ready to check out with my items. I saw a mother with her child in front of me ‘discussing’ the finer particulars of why the child couldn’t have one of the candy items conveniently placed at the checkout counter. I won’t dwell on the fact that those people who design the checkout counter aisle are evil and obviously don’t have kids of their own, but instead will focus on the words that I heard.

The child, who couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6, was quite upset that mom wasn’t going to buy the Snickers and was doing what we in the south call ‘pitchin a fit’. The mother, clearly at her wits end after numerous tries of convincing junior as to why he couldn’t have the Snickers, snapped at her son and said, “You must be stupid. I told you no, now shut up.”  I would have liked to tell that little kid that he wasn’t stupid.  Now don’t misunderstand, I would have wore his butt out for acting like a horse’s tail, but calling a kid stupid can have lasting effects for years to come.

I was reminded at that moment how heavy words can be.

I have been where that mother was. I have wanted to strangle my kids for things they have done, and I am sure just about any parent can relate. I have been so angry that I couldn’t see straight, and I have said things that I regretted and had to apologize to my children for. I think that we as parents have a larger responsibility to see beyond our anger to what our words will do to our children. The same harsh word is different coming from a sibling than it is coming from a parent. I feel strongly that it is our responsibility to discipline our children, but we can do that without calling them stupid.

A Father And Son Create A Charity Around Laughter

Us dads are always looking for activities we can share and experience with our kids.  Sometimes it is a sport or hobby.  Sometimes it is a book or movie.  Sometimes it is helping with a school project.  My friend Steve Spiro and his son Sam have found a project they can work on together, while bringing smiles and laughter to the sick and wounded.  After all, laughter is the best medicine!  Here is a short interview I did with Steve and Sam about the organization they setup to donate comedy books to hospitals, www.LaughterIsTheBestMed.org.

 

LaughterIsTheBestMed.org: Dadomatic Interview with Sam & Steve Spiro from Jeffrey Sass on Vimeo.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 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.

You can find Steve’s -er, Arnie Goldberg’s book, “Why Jews Don’t Camp” here (affiliate link).

Revisiting Memories

My little brother and his wife delivered their twins yesterday. It was quite a day and I am very proud of him and his wife as I think they will make great parents.  I could sense the pride in his voice and it still blows my mind that my little brother is now a father. For years he has always been the ‘uncle’ who was in the door like a whirlwind, long enough to horse around with the kids and then out the door again, off to the next thing.

The whole experience of seeing his babies for the first time brought my mind instantly back to the day that my own children were born, 14 and 11 years ago. I never understood old people talking about how quickly time passes, but I understand it now all too well. I have seen plenty of newborn babies since my kids were born but there was something about seeing these babies that really got me and choked me up.

Perhaps it was because these babies are now my newest family members. Perhaps it was because they really do look like my babies did when they were born.  Perhaps it was the fact that my little brother is now starting the journey down the road that I have been walking for years.  Something about that analogy is just moving to me.

But maybe it was the fact that I was instantly swept back to those feelings I had when I saw my children take their first breath. The moment that I laid eyes on them taking that first glimpse at the world brings tears to my eyes even now. My priorities, my beliefs, my goals, and my desires changed in an instant and the world suddenly seemed so much bigger to me and so much smaller at the same time, a dichotomy that is still hard to explain. My little brother just had that experience and it is something that we now share.  There is so much more that we can talk about now, and that’s pretty exciting.

It took me awhile to ‘get it’, but I discovered why my mom still to this day looks at this 42 year old man like a little kid.  In some ways she still sees me as that little boy she held in her arms so many years ago, just like I look at my kids today, and just as my brother looks at these beautiful babies in his arms. I can’t explain that feeling to anyone who hasn’t had a child, and my brother and I probably won’t be able to explain it to each other either. But now he knows, and now I get to experience all over again the joy of holding in my arms little children that are a part of me.  Revisiting memories is so very wonderful indeed.

Of Tattoos and Determination


The arm in the picture above belongs to my 23 year-old son, Zach.  The tattoo belongs to him as well.  It is his first.  Personally, I am not at all the “tattoo type” and while I have come to appreciate and admire them (in many, but certainly not all, instances) I don’t see much “ink” in my own future.  I’d say it was a generational thing, but Zach’s mom has a few tattoos herself. Zach wasn’t the first of my kids to jump on the permanent self-expression bandwagon.  My 19 year-old daughter Olivia has a rose tattoo (though I doubt she has ever seen or read the eponymous and wonderful Tennessee Williams play, one of my favorites).  If my middle son has splurged on some ink while away at school in Boston, he has yet to break it to me.

Ink Has Lost Its Stink

As a parent, I have odd feelings about tattoos.  They are so permanent, and thus the dad in me can’t help but feel that my own kids – even though they have passed the age of 18 that we accept as the benchmark of adulthood – aren’t quite ready to make a decision today that perhaps they will feel differently about 5, 10 or even 20 years from now.  A tattoo is so… permanent. Then I look around the world I actually live in (which is not always the same as the world that exists inside my mind) and I see my friends and co-workers and so many others who have embraced some “ink” as nonchalantly and proudly as they would any other personal attribute or fashion statement.  Ink, in many ways, has become a literal sign of the times, and, like it or not, an accepted personal accoutrement.

Characters and Character

I suppose there is something romantic about the permanence of a tattoo and thus the (hopefully) carefully considered design and meaning of the art one literally chooses to brand themselves with. My daughter chose a flower.  My son, some Japanese characters, with a meaning only he (and those who can read Japanese characters among us) will understand at a glance. While at first I wasn’t sure I would smile upon seeing his tattoo, I did have to smile when he told me what the characters meant.  His tattoo says, “DETERMINATION.”  Zach, is the embodiment of determination.  Working in kitchens throughout college, and now as a full-time chef, Zach became an avid runner who, determined, lost over 150 pounds in less than a year, completed a half-marathon, and recently bought his first home.

Determination.

His determination (and subsequent success) has filled me with pride.  How can I not love his tattoo, and the meaning behind it?

What do you think of “ink” as it relates to your kids?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

You’re The Best Daddy (Song)


I heard this absolutely beautiful song called “Daddy” at the end of Curious George by a group called LaughingPizza and I just had to find out more about it and hear it again and again. It truly got to me and I think it will for any parent. Such a sweet sentiment and such a lovely song.

I love how it describes the way the dad is missed when he goes away to work and how the child loves the way they play, in such a way that the mom can’t even bare to look. We might play rougher but we will always be there to catch them if they fall.

You can hear the whole song here on their website. You can buy the song for .99 cents or get it for free by liking the LaughingPizza fan page on Facebook. It’s truly worth it either way.

To watch the music video go here and scroll down to the song called “Daddy”.

Here are the lyrics

Daddy

You are my Daddy
I am your girl
You’re the best daddy in the whole wide world
I miss you so
When you go away
Won’t you come home soon so that we can play?
The way we love to play
You throw me up
So high in the air
But I know that you’ll catch me
You’ll always be there
You push me higher
So high in my swing
‘till I feel like I’m flying
Just like a bird with wings
Like a bird with wings
But Mommy won’t watch
No she just turns away
She gets too nervous the way that we play
Oh it just makes us giggle
It’s like a joke that we share
‘Cause whatever we do
I feel so safe in your care
You’re the best Daddy
And I’m your best girl
And please know that I love you
While you travel the world
There’s no one like you
And there’ll never be
You’re my prince, you’re my Daddy
Forever my Daddy
You’re the best Daddy for me

Written by: L.Michaelis/E. Schlosser

(c)2008

Facebook Grammar

Facebook logoThe other day I was surfing around inside Facebook and saw a post that was created by my 14-yr old daughter. One of her older high-school friends made a comment on her post and in the comment she said this, “…I want to no all about it…”.  I made the remark to my daughter how disappointing it was that this high school student didn’t even know the difference between ‘no’ and ‘know’.  My daughter said, ‘Oh, it’s just Facebook.’

I can’t really explain just why that bothered me, but it did. I am getting old, it’s true. And I know that as the generations get older they complain about the generations following them.  Nothing new there. So I guess it is to be expected. But it just bothers me that little things like grammar don’t seem to mean much to kids today.

Maybe I am just overly concerned with being ‘correct’.  Am I being too picky about this or what?  I mean, it is just wrong to use the word ‘no’ when the correct word is ‘ know’. It’s not like there is even a debate about that.  If this kid grows up to be my doctor, I certainly hope that she spells my medication properly on the prescription, you know?  Then I hear the argument that ‘well, it is just the informal way that young people communicate today, and they won’t do that when they get into the workplace.

Well, I can tell you that I have a bunch of  young people who work for me, and they all do this. It drives me bananas.  In formal communication they do this… bad grammar, abbreviations, etc.  Not just in texting. It is starting to spill over to all aspects of their lives, and I don’t know what can be done about it.  Maybe nothing.  Maybe I am just being a cratchety old man. Maybe I shouldn’t care, I mean, is the world really in trouble just because she used the word ‘no’ when the correct word was ‘know’?  Is all hope lost just because my daughter sees nothing wrong with it? No, I don’t guess all hope is lost.

But she better get my prescription right. I don’t want to start growing hair on my elbows or something.

 

Eulogizing My Father

At Nathan's

My dad has a little brown spot on his hand. And when I was little he told me it was a ticklish spot. We were in our den and he was on the phone. I decided to tickle the spot.

“It’s not ticklish when I’m on the phone,” he said.

As it turns out, Dad wasn’t very ticklish at all. But he was amusing.

And he did smile a lot. And laugh a lot.

They say that people who smile tend to lead longer lives.

Maybe that explains how Dad stayed with us so long.

Or maybe Sylvia is responsible for keeping him around.

My 16-year-old mother asked my dad, then 24, to her prom. He said no. She was too young.

But in 1949, mom had blossomed into a young woman and dad knew a good thing when he saw it. They were married for more than 60 years.

Remarried for their 50th

And yes, while they bickered, “Joe! Take your pill!” “Sylvia! For God’s sake! Would you?!” He stuck around, in increasing discomfort, for her. He didn’t want her to be alone.

So I invite you all after mass and in the weeks and months to come, crowd around Aunt Seeya. She knows Dad’s fine. It’s still very tough for her.

A while back he was recovering in rehab and leaned over,”Joey, I remember what my Uncle Jimmy told me. He said, Joe, I’ve lived a full life. Don’t feel sorry for me when I go.”

Dad continued, “We have three great kids. You and your sisters, you all got married. You have loving children. You’re good parents. I’d say we did pretty well for ourselves.”

I’d say he did very well. In dying, he shared his love and humor with us until this, his new beginning.

We five, his immediate family, held hands a few weeks back, each telling him we were ready. He could go.

And he held us. And he loved us.

I said, “I have this image of Grandma and Jeddo up there in Heaven looking at their watches saying, ‘What the heck is taking him so long?’”

In death, he was listening to a Bible passage, took one last deep breath, and went to God.

Two years back, I was afraid my children, still very young when we moved to the West Coast, might not remember my father very well.

So I’ll leave you with the words I recorded that day in rehab.

Yes, it was meant for my little ones.

But if you listen closely, you may take away the most important life message, from this most extra-ordinary father, father-in-law, husband, brother, son, godfather, uncle, Jeddo, veteran, businessman, Christian, and friend.

Do you have any advice for them? Life-long advice?

Life advice. Whatever you do, just do the best you can. Never do anything half-assed, you do it all the way, or you don’t do it at all. That’s all I can tell ya. Your mother and father are very smart, and they say you guys are too. So you listen to them and you do all right.

Have a good life. I love you very, very much. Good bye.

Good bye, Jeddo.

Good bye, Honey.

:: Joe Hage is a storyteller for medical device marketing consultancy Medical Marcom ::

See also Saying Goodbye to Dad
See also The Last Day with My Father

Little Wonders

My 8 year-old has been after me to watch Meet The Robinsons for the longest time so I finally made time to watch it with my kids and I sure am happy I did. I absolutely loved the movie. Now, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for most of the animated films these days because quite frankly they are so well-written and well-made. Not only is the animation incredible, but they all seem to tell a good story and there always seems to be something touching in them too. For example, starting way back with the Lion King (when the dad dies) all the way to last year’s Toy Story 3 (when Andy goes off the college made millions of parents cry like babies). So I’m pretty much prepared for this winning formula by now. Still, Meet The Robinsons got to me in a big way with its beautiful finale sequences. Totally unexpected and well done.

One of the things I liked best about this story was the fact that it addresses a subject matter that isn’t really tackled much, adoption. I believe Tarzan does a good job with the subject matter but I can’t think of too many others that do. Despicable Me also does a sweet job with adoption. In any event, Meet The Robinsons does the best job I’ve seen. I don’t want to give away anything more so I can’t go into details here. Please watch it with your family. Even if we think we have the weirdest family around, at the end of the day, it’s still your family.

Here’s the ending to Meet the Robinsons with the beautiful song “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas. I can’t believe how much I was moved by this ending. It all just tied together so wonderfully. Even the quote they used at the very end by Walt Disney to “Keep Moving Forward”.


 

Here’s the whole song and music video for “Little Wonders”

 

 

Little Wonders lyrics
Songwriters: Thomas, Rob;


Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know the hardest part is over?
Let it in, let your clarity define you
In the end we will only just remember how it feels
Our lives are made in these small hours
These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate
Time falls away but these small hours
These small hours still remain
Let it slide, let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine until you feel it all around you
And I don?t mind if it’s me you need to turn to
We’ll get by, it’s the heart that really matters in the end
Our lives are made in these small hours
These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate
Time falls away but these small hours
These small hours still remain
All of my regret will wash away somehow
But I cannot forget the way I feel right now
In these small hours
These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate
Yeah, these twists and turns of fate!
Time falls away, yeah but these small hours
And these small hours still remain, yeah
Ooh they still remain
These little wonders, oh these twists and turns of fate
Time falls away but these small hours
These little wonders still remain

 

Let the Fireworks Begin! Cast of Dads #43

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Wash...

Image via Wikipedia

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

The Cast of Dads got together before the weekend to share our post Father’s Day adventures and we had a blast sharing some of our own stories of fireworks and other explosive topics.  We also announced the winner of our Father’s Day Dell Inspiron Duo giveaway, thanks to our friends at Intel and Dell.

Independence Day is a time of celebration, family and appreciation, and we hope you are enjoying your time with your family and friends, and taking a few moments to reflect with gratitude upon the true freedom and independence we enjoy in so much of our lives today…

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 43.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, please tell your friends to 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, 23, Ethan, 21 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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Common Thread

Common threadsI have lots of people in my life who have things in common with me. I have neighbors who share our neighborhood in common with me, so when we talk to each other we talk about the neighborhood. I have work colleagues who share work things in common with me. I know the guy at the cleaners and every time we see each other we talk about the weather. That’s what we have in common I guess. It is this collection of threads that make up our lives. And some threads I think are more important than others.

When I was a child I read ‘The Hobbit’ and immediately after, ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The book made such a lasting impression on me that it shaped my reading habits and preferences for the rest of my life. When the movies came out I was, as they say in the south, in ‘hog heaven’. Since that first reading I have read the books again at least 4 or 5 times and re-discover new things each time. Recently on the family vacation trip I decided to take the DVDs of The Lord of the Rings with us in the van. For 6 hours one way, and 6 hours back, my kids watched the movies. And this is the ‘rest of the story’ as they say.

My 14 year old son, who didn’t show much interest a few years ago when I tried to get him to read the book and watch the movies, has suddenly taken to them. He pours over maps and talks about why this was included in the story, and why this wasn’t, and what this means, and on and on. He wants to know what I think about all these things, and what other books might be out there about it that he can read. He said to me the other day, ‘Dad, I am pretty much obsessed with Lord of the Rings right now.’ Which finally brings me to the point of this post.

My son and I now have a common thread. A love for Tolkien. A love for this story. He is now making little jokes by repeating lines from the book, to which we chuckle and smile at each other because we know the inside joke. We talk about what we think, what we like, and what we don’t like. It is something we now share. A common thread.

My wife has it with our daughter… a common interest they share and enjoy together. A common thread. And now with my 14 year old son I have it. Something we can always share that hopefully he will pass along to his kids.  And I have come to believe how very important it is to have something like that with your child.  It may seem silly to some people to obsess over hobbits and rings and such. But it isn’t about that to me. To me it is about sharing something with my son that’s ‘ours’. A common thread that bonds us. And if you will pardon me, I have to go now. I have to go brush up on my Elivish grammar.

The Last Day with My Father

I got there at 11:00 or so.

He was sleeping but woke to a “really good” day. I got talk to him as I would someone in perfect health.

With Mom nearby, I talked about my new business (“So proud of you”) and my family (“I love you more than you know”).

Click to enlarge

I showed JPEGs of their high school graduation photos (Dad graduated in 3½ years with commendations and played tennis; Mom was in the “Modern Dance Club” and “never served detention”).

We reminisced the stories he told so many times before, about the kid brother he lost 47 years earlier, about his parents.

Then he said matter-of-factly, “Sylvia, get me orange juice, I’m dying.” Mom scurried out the room.

“That was really funny, Dad,” I congratulated.

He gave me a crooked smile. “I know,” he winked.

I was, like, this guy is going to make me rewrite his eulogy! That was too funny not to include!

Mom finished the last of the juice and I was sent out on an errand. When I returned, the Bionic Man (skeletal, bedridden) had the TV remote in his hand!

I called my wife. “He did it again. He is sitting up watching TV! He is never going to die!”

He hadn’t eaten in days and I was eating leftover yebrette (grape leaves), my favorite. I asked Mom if I could offer him some.

“Dad, you want a bite of yebrette?”

He shook no.

“It’s really good. I can cut it up.”

He mouthed “half.”

Mom coached me on the proper bite size. I dipped it in lemon and was surprised how far he opened his mouth. Once inside, the food immediately stung his mouth; he clenched his eyes shut in obvious pain.

I fished out the food and shortly thereafter he was asleep for six hours straight. The longer he slept, the more I feared I messed up. Would he would sleep through my “final goodbye?”

My sister Carolyn came over at night and, by that time, Mom was nervous. The “girl” hadn’t come yet, Dad was too far over on the bed and was “about to fall out of the bed,” how can we make sure that doesn’t happen, etc.

It was now 8:40 and I had a flight the next day. I had to leave and I didn’t want the commotion to get in the way of my goodbye.

I shut the door behind me, seeing my mother’s worried eyes saying, “Why are you shutting the door?” or “Why can’t I be in there with you?” I overheard my sister rationalize with her through the thin wall.

I sat on Dad’s bed and rested my forehead to his, my nose to his.

And God opened his eyes.

I don’t remember what I said exactly. And I wasn’t concerned about saying the perfect thing. I knew, this was the very last time I would see my father alive. I knew, when I left this room I would never hold him again in this lifetime.

I said, “I don’t cry as much as the others, but I’m gonna miss you. I’ll have you in my heart and in my mind.” I tapped my cranium. “I’ve got the Hage Brains,” a decades-old family joke.

I reminisced about his 25th anniversary party at Grandma’s house and recalled how he walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.

And then…

He lifted up his arms!

To hug me!

I was shocked, amazed, delighted, and grateful.

I fell to his chest, feeling his soft embrace for the last time. I kissed him repeatedly. He kissed me back.

“I love you.”

“I love you more,” he said.

“I have to go. I have a business trip tomorrow and I’m gonna earn all the money.”

He nodded. And as I rose to go to the door, I distinctly remember debating, do I turn around for one last wistful glance or is that too contrived? Then I thought, I don’t care how contrived it is, that’s my dad, and I’m walking away from him for the very last time.

So I turned.

And there he was, his eyes fixed on me, with a knowing look about the enormity of the moment.

He mouthed something, I genuinely don’t recall what, but it was something loving and affirming.

I nodded yes, turned, closed the door, and immediately welled up.

“I have to go,” I said to Mom and Carolyn, and wept.

They held me. Carolyn said it was ok to cry. Mom asked, “Wha’d he say?”

I said, “All you have to know is he lifted his arms to hug me,” breaking down again.

I hugged Mom, knowing I wouldn’t see her again until I got The Call. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

I had no trouble falling to sleep that night.

:: Joe Hage is a storyteller for medical device marketing consultancy Medical Marcom ::

See also Saying Goodbye to Dad
See also Eulogizing My Father

A Father’s Open Letter to His Daughter

NBA star, Robert Horry, shared a touching open letter to his daughter Ashlyn who passed away on 6/14/2011 far too young at 17 due to a rare genetic disorder  called 1p36 Deletion Syndrome. The NBA legend is famous for his late game heroics on the court but here he shares an even more incredible display of grace under pressure with a powerful letter to his beautiful daughter on Father’s Day.

We all know how precious this life is and how we should never squander any moments but this letter is an amazing reminder for us all. Whether you’re a parent or not, the message is clear, love and appreciate those special people in your life while we still can. At the end of the day, spending time with loved ones is the most important thing we can do. No matter what accomplishments we can achieve in life, the love we share is what matters most. I know as a fact that Robert Horry would trade his impressive 7 NBA titles in a heartbeat for the chance to have more time with his precious little angel.

Here’s the moving open letter from a father to his daughter. Ashlyn’s Smile

 

Saying Goodbye to Dad

My baptism day

I don’t know if I’ll hit the publish button.

I’m collecting thoughts after the most memorable Father’s Day of my life.

My dad is dying.

At one point today, my mother, sisters, and I crowded around my father’s bed in the assisted living facility. We professed our profound love for the man and each got “this close” to his face (so he could hear us) and said, “It’s ok, Dad. You can go whenever you are ready.”

We told Dad, “We know you stuck around this long (he’s 88) because of Mom. Yes, she is scared, but we are all here for her and she is going to be fine.”

Mom had the courage to say the same. “I’m going to miss you, you’ve been my husband for 60 years, but I’ll be all right. I don’t want you to suffer any more.”

Dad, with Grandma, 1960s

He kissed us, said he was ok, that he loved us, that he knew we loved him. A priest visited and he received the Anointing of the Sick (as he has a half-dozen times before).

We’ve been saying goodbye to Dad for years.

Two years ago, I got a recording of Dad giving my young children “life-long” advice. Last year, after recovering from a THREE HOUR-LONG heart attack he said, “I’m still here?!”

Now that he’s on constant pain medication and he eats almost nothing, surely this is “his time” … defined as days or weeks from now.

We’re ready when God is.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving us such a good one. And for the gift of unity, love, and closure.

:: Joe Hage is CEO of medical device marketing consultancy Medical Marcom ::

See also The Last Day with My Father
See also Eulogizing My Father

The Ultimate Influencer: Dad’s Got Klout!

Influence is a decided buzz word, as is “influencers.”  Many of us get caught up with the number of followers and on-line friends we have… we judge our online worth by our Klout scores, and re-tweets and blog comments.  But today is the day to honor someone who is a true influencer… someone who, as far as you are concerned, may deserve a Klout score of 99, whether he is online or not.  Today is the day to honor our fathers, the ultimate influencer.  Of course, if you are a dad, as I am, it is a great day to appreciate and enjoy the love of your children and recognize your extremely high Klout score with them.

Passing The Baton

Fatherhood is a wonderful thing, at both ends of the spectrum – being a son and being a dad.  If you are lucky enough to be both, then today is without question the most special day of the year.  Think about your dad and how much of an influence he has been on your life and who you are. Think about your own kids and the influence you have and the life shaping example you are to them.  Look in the mirror, smile, and pat yourself heartily on the back. You deserve it.  Being a dad is special, and so are you.  Just ask your kids!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 21 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: Margaret M Stewart – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Most Important Thing: Being There

The list is long. My to-do list of work-related things is pretty darn long, and you know what I’m talking about. When you get something marked off your list it seems like 2 things make it onto your list. I am one of those people who doesn’t have a distinct separation between work and personal, and I suspect that alot of you are the same way. My work is a large part of who I am, therefore much of my work doesn’t really seem like work to me. It is just the stuff that I enjoy. So bringing work home with me every night and on the weekends is just something I do. And that can cause problems at home.

Yesterday I took my boys swimming at my parent’s house. We always have a great time goofing off, competing in our own version of the Olympics and seeing who is the fastest at this or that. After we got done my oldest son and I were talking about what we wanted to do the next day. I mentioned perhaps we could go swimming again, to which my oldest son said that he did want to do that. Then he added, “So we’ll come swimming tomorrow?” I said yes.

Then he said, “But you’ll come over with us to go swimming, right?”

You see, he asked me that because I don’t always come with them when they go swimming. In fact, sometimes I ‘send them’ over to my parent’s house to go swimming. I am often ‘working’ on the computer in the house, and they are used to seeing me pecking away at the keyboard. You see, I have alot of work to do, and of course all the items on my list are never complete.

I think there are times when as fathers we have those moments that catch us unaware, and shake us a little bit. I mean, intellectually I know that as a father I am supposed to spend time with my kids. That’s a ‘no-brainer’, right? But the reality is the pressures of life often get in the way and spending time with the kids gets pushed down the list. So when he looked me in the eye and said that, it shook me. He didn’t say these words, but what he was really saying was, “I like swimming dad, but I want you there with me. We have more fun when you are there.”

I guess it is a little presumptuous to title an article “The Most Important Thing”, because there are a bunch of important things. But when I think back about most of the significant times in my life, my father was there. My school functions, my ball games, the family vacations, building that tree house, learning to drive a stick-shift, the graduations, my wedding, the birth of my kids, and countless other memories. Dad was there.

So today we are going swimming. And I’ll be leading the way over to the pool. There are cannonballs to do, and dunking that must occur. And I am quite sure I can beat my lap time from yesterday. My list can wait. Because today being there is the most important thing.

The Circle of Life

We just lost our beautiful Papillon Chi Chi. He was a great dog and we will miss him terribly. My 8 year-old Matthew was closest to Chi Chi so he’s taking it the hardest. Seeing my son in such pain breaks my heart as much as the loss of our sweet dog. He’s too young to go through all this. It’s a tough life lesson, I know, but I wish we didn’t have to go through it now. I guess it’s never a good time to experience such a thing. No matter how much you prepare yourself or your children for loss, it’s always a shock to the system.

I am very grateful that our other dog just had puppies 2 weeks ago. We told Matthew he could keep one of them now, of course. We’re hoping it will help the healing process. I know a new puppy won’t replace Chi Chi but it can only help soothe the pain at least a little.

Talking Tech and Toddlers on MashUp Radio

Last week I had the chance to speak about kids and technology with Intel‘s Peter Biddle on his MashUp Radio show.  We had a fun conversation that ran the gamut from toddlers and tablets, to “Free Range Kids,” to marketing to kids, to the concept of our kids never being alone thanks to technology.

Peter is an awesome guy to chat with as he has had some great experiences and in addition to hosting MashUp Radio, he leads AppUp Products and Services in Intel’s Software and Services Group.  While Peter has an impressive tech industry background, the line in his bio that got my attention is:

“Peter’s first business venture was as sole proprietor of a paint-ball field in Washington State, where he developed the skills that help him navigate Silicon Valley successfully.”

Now that’s a guy you want to talk to!  I have embedded my talk with Peter below, and I hope you enjoy listening.  Please let us know what you think in the comments and add your own thoughts about toddlers and tech.

Listen to internet radio with MashUp Radio on Blog Talk Radio

DISCLOSURE: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to advise and attend events on their behalf.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Single Dad’s Sounding Board?

From the mundane to the major, one of the things I have had to grapple with over the seven months since my wife passed is that I really no longer have a single sounding board to just talk through issues or hear myself say them out loud.

I recently posted on my Single Dad blog about missing this aspect of a relationship.

The current conundrum is an important decision.  The good news is no matter what I do, I am OK, but still I’d love to make the right decision.  Yeah, there are a lot of people I can seek out and opinions I can get.  But there is not really anyone who knows the intimacy of living in my house and how things go.  And that’s what’s missing.

I even remember a moment when I was dealing with an issue of similar gravity a year ago, and I sat in my wife’s hospice room and talked to her.  At the time she was non-communicative and I am not sure if she even heard me or understood what I was saying.  But it helped to just say it out loud and hear the issues and run through the possible solutions.

So for now, I’ll take this one on myself-spend the day (or the weekend) over analyzing and then jumping forward with what I am sure will be the right course.

The Real Father’s Day Gift

It is June. Notable for the official start of summer, hurricane season (for those of us, like me, based in South Florida) and of course, Father’s Day. Like many dads, I am both a father and a son, roles that are intimately intertwined. We are all someone’s children, and as such we assume that who we are and who we become is influenced by our parents. As a guy, it is normal to let that assumption lean toward the influence of a father. However, I think truly understanding your own father and his subtle (or not so subtle) impact on your being may not occur until you have children of your own. Perhaps the best way to understand the unique perspectives of your own dad is to become a dad yourself.

Apple, Meet Tree…

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and all of us have our individual experiences and relationships with our father’s, so I don’t profess to speak for all sons and dads. Speaking for myself, however, as I enter my 23rd year as a father, and more than twice as many years as a son, I am continually surprised by the countless ways I see my father in myself as I play my part as a father to my kids. Similarly, I am equally intrigued and amazed at how often I see myself in my kids, in the ways they relate to me as their dad. While my kids are growing up in a different world and different circumstances than I did, and many things about their lives and relationships are completely alien to what my childhood experiences were, there are still many sometimes startling moments of parental clarity when I can’t help but see behaviour that is a blatant example of a family cycle continuing – from my grandparents, to my parents, to myself and my sister, and to our respective children. I am frequently (and happily) reminded that indeed the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The Real Father’s Day Gift

As a dad, I already know what every father really wants for Father’s Day. It is not a tie, or cologne, or a new gadget, or even a hand-drawn card. It is simply the love of happy and caring children, and the amazing sense of pride that results from seeing them thrive. Pride is the ultimate Father’s Day gift, to be given to dads of all ages, by kids of all ages. Whether you are 6 or 60, your dad wants to be proud of you, and you can find joy in making your dad proud. As we prepare for this coming Father’s Day, the best gift we can give our dad is to be the best sons and daughters we can. The best gift my kids can give me is to continue to be the wonderful children they are. The love and pride they already provide makes every day a happy Father’s Day.

Do you agree, or would you rather just get that new tie?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 21 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: Andy Dean – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Spend Your Money On Memories

We just got back from the family vacation to the Great Smokey Mountains, and it has given me time to reflect on the whole family vacation experience.  I wrote a number of weeks ago about the whole saga of trying to figure out a way to get the whole family together for a summer vacation, and in truth this may be the last year that we get everyone together, and all my kids are still at home.  Sad, I know.  But we did it, had a great time, and now it’s time for me to do my fatherly duties (aside from making a video clip about it) and write about it.
Family vacation to the Smokey Mountains
We decided to stay in a cabin in the Great Smokey Mountains, in Gatlinburg, TN.  We have visited there many times before and our kids love it.  We take food and spend lots of time grilling out, playing games, watching movies, and generally bonding.  There is also a fair share of arguing, picking-on, pettiness, and rough-housing where someone ends up hurt.  But that’s part of it.

If you have ever been to Gatlinburg, then you know what it’s like there.  It is a fantastic place to experience real artisan craftsman making folk art and the like.  It has been that way for decades, but has over the past several years grown to more than that.  You have your typical tourist shops selling t-shirts and little plastic frogs, and the street hawker trying to sell you a trip to go see some bears or take a helicopter ride.  But the main reason we love going there is because my kids have lots of memories there, and they secretly crave what all kids love.  A chance to make some memories.

You see, what our kids talk about all the time are things like…’Do you remember when Evan got knocked out of the boat and almost drowned? That was so much fun!!’  Or maybe… ‘Remember that baby bear we saw when that mother bear was like getting ready to eat us?  That was awesome!’.  Yes, we like to live on the wild side as a family.  And that’s my point.

What my kids don’t talk about is the t-shirt they got, or the shark tooth in the little bottle that they just had to have.  What they talk about are the experiences we had together.  The white water rafting trip.  The horse-back riding.  The zip-line ride through the trees.  If you looked at the cost of some of those things, then you might pause and think about doing something a little cheaper.  But I don’t look at the cost so much.  I won’t remember the money, but I will remember the great time we had.

What I remember about my own family are things like… riding in the back of the station wagon on the way to the Grand Canyon, the dozens of campsites we stayed at, and skiing the Swiss Alps.  I don’t remember a single item that was ever purchased for me.  But I do remember skiing down the side of that mountain with my dad hot on my heels trying to keep up.

So when I say ‘no’ to my kids for the 100th time about wanting to buy that little plastic frog, I secretly smile inside.  Because I know that they will look back and remember the memories that we made together.  That’s what I spend my money on.

 

The Dad Life

Here’s a hilarious music video called The Dad Life by Church on the move. It pretty much nails the experience.

Dad Life lyrics

Ha ha
This is dad life
It’s how we live
24/7, 365
Check me

Gas station glasses
Don’t care what the masses
Think about me wit my sweet goatee
I’m rockin’ my Dockers
With a cuff and a crease
I got that St. John’s Bay
And a clip for my piece

I look nice
I got dozens of dollars
And that’s right
It goes straight to my daughters and my wife
I’m a miracle dad
Makin’ magic with the checkbook is a talent I have

I roll hard in the yard
With a 60-inch cut
Zero turn radius
My neighbors say what?
They be drivin’ by
Peepin’ my landscape
Yo, these greens got nothin’ on my man-scape

Hydrangeas (what), Begonias (naw)
Crape Myrtle (tight), ornamental turtle!
Hold up
Is that a weed in my fescue?
Aw naw, Round Up to the rescue

It’s the dad life, it’s the dad life
“Take my daughty to the party…(or potty)”, it’s the dad life
(bringin’ home the bacon)
It’s the dad life, it’s the dad life
Shootin’ vids of the kids, it’s the dad life

Roll up to the splash pad, 10 AM
My whole entourage
Hops out the minivan
We splishy splashy for an hour or two
Then it’s back to the house
Preppin’ for the barbecue

Brats, dogs, rack of ribs, whateva (tight)
Get me on the Weber
Man, nobody does it betta
Call me lord of the grill
I’m king of the coals
Nana’s secret recipe, you know how I roll

1080p, 16×9
I’m rockin’ man cave status
With a screen like mine
Keep your peanut butter hands
Off my 50-inch Vizio
Pop up the corn, roll the Disney video

{ “A whole new world…” }

We got Aladdin, Jasmine
Abu, the genie (hey)
With kids like mine, everybody wants to be me
Sing a nigh-night song and then it’s off to bed
This is the dad life, no more to be said

It’s the dad life, it’s the dad life
Hit the mall, coaching ball, it’s the dad life
(bringin’ home the bacon)
It’s the dad life, it’s the dad life
Playing rough, fixing stuff, it’s the dad life
(bringin’ home the bacon)
It’s the dad life, it’s the dad life
Yeah, you know how we do it
It’s the dad life

Looking Inward for Solutions

Dropping a cross post from my Dad the Single Guy blog because I think this audience would have some thoughts on this too:

I’ve never been one (or at least I hope I have not been one) to look for help unless I am truly out of options and just can’t figure out a problem or issue.  This is especially true when it comes to parenting and raising my kids.  Beyond a sense of responsibility, I think I owe it to them to just figure it out.

Sometimes the answer is asking for help-and with some reluctance on my part I have become more willing to do that.

But then came a blog post a friend shared via Twitter and on Facebook entitled “Sacrificial Lambs: How We Are Destroying Our Children” and it got me thinking.  The blog (and please do read it for yourself and not just accept my thoughts) basically outlines how schools, social services and third-party support have allowed the nation’s poorest children to slip through the cracks.

I am not questioning the reasoning or the information presented by Peter Cookson.  I do take issue with the fact that Mr. Cookson (whom I’ve never met or read anything else from) thinks the problem can be fixed through social change-in effect change the “system” and change the outlook.

That just can’t be.  Certainly there are things that can be done. Families should not have to live pay-check to pay-check at the poverty line.  But they should be the first-and only line of defense in the well-being of their children.  There is no government program or school based fix.

Parents have to make the sacrifice for the kids they brought into the world.  Perhaps I am sensitive to this because of sacrifices I’ve seen made for my kids-and the sacrifices I make for them, and certainly I do not have all of the answers nor do I want to position myself as a poster-child for family life.

And, I do believe there should be a social net so children do not fall through the cracks.  But the fix has to start with family engagement-from parental school involvement, to family structure (and I do not mean nuclear family here, rather an engaged mother or father figure) to making time for your kids.

Today is a perfect example.  I am writing this blog on an eastbound LIRR train.  I left work early with a 6PM call still on my schedule to make sure my older daughter got to her softball practice on time.  Tomorrow, I will leave early again to get the younger one to a softball game.  The car pools are set up to get them to Hebrew school.  I’ve emailed with both of their teachers today about in class happenings.
It can be done.  It’s not easy and it is a commitment of time and energy-but they are my kids and I’ll raise them.

 

Beautiful Boy

Parents always have a special song or two for each of their babies. One of my favorites is John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” which still touches me deeply every time I hear it because I used to sing it to both of my sons at bedtime. Adding to the bittersweetness is the fact that John Lennon’s time with his precious son was cut way too short. He truly loved being a dad and wrote a wonderful tribute to being a dad in his brief time as a father. What are some of your favorite songs for your children?

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”
JOHN LENNON

Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here,
Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It’s getting better and better,
Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime,
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,
Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
Darling,
Darling,
Darling Sean.

Scared the S*** Out of Me

My seven-year-old takes karate. Makes him feel invincible.

Him: “Don’t worry. If a bad guy comes, I know karate.”
Me: “I still want you where I can see you.”
Him: “Don’t worry. I know karate.”
Me: “What if three bad guys come?”
Him: “That’s ok. I can do my ‘tornado kick.’”

I think when kids hear about ‘bad guys,’ they assume they would be forcefully attacked or abducted. Thrown into the backseat of a car. Or they’d be able to scream in time for someone to come to their aid.

I do not own the rights to broadcast the following video and I excerpted 0:38 seconds for illustrative purposes only. In Dexter Season 4, John Lithgow plays a serial killer. Look how easy it was to fool the 10-year-old at the arcade.

 

Untitled from Joe Hage on Vimeo.

[Click here to watch video.]

How do you protect against a well-conceived con? I don’t think deviously enough to plant these possibilities into my kids’ heads. Not to mention the nightmares.

The guy who conned me

I was 14, I think, at the time. And looking back, the con was ridiculous. I should have known better.

But here was an adult telling me about an emergency situation! I wanted to cooperate and be helpful.

Luckily, I was only robbed.

He stopped me on my bike. He told me, “A woman was shot (I think it was) and they described the perpetrator as [my-height, my-clothes, on a brown bike].

He told me to run up to the fifth floor of this building. I said, “Wait. Let me lock up my bike first.”

He said, “No! There’s no time for that.”

There were only four floors to that building, I discovered, as my bike went off into the distance.

Stupid. Stupid!

How can we protect our children from cons?

I don’t think a simple “Never listen to strangers” is enough.

:: Joe Hage is the CEO and Founder of Medical Marcom, a medical marketing consultancy providing effective lead generation strategies for life science companies. http://MedicalMarcom.com ::

Perspectives Are Shaped By Our World

This is cross posted from my Single Dad blog, but I think its relevant for the Dad-O-Matic audience too.

NYC's Upper West Side via myupperwestside.comI had an exchange with 10.5 today (through a closed bathroom door might I add) that made me chuckle slightly, and appreciate the differences of the changed world in which we live.  And in this case, I am not talking about change as a bad thing, or the catalyst for bad things.

She took the phone into the bathroom for privacy while talking to her best friend.  When I walked by the door and heard the muffled voice I asked (through the door) if she was in her phone booth.  She replied, “What’s a phone booth?”

I answered back that it was an obscure reference, never mind.

Today’s exchange brought to mind one that I had with both girls several months ago when I dug out my old radio bag-that still had my Marantz tape recorder, microphone, several mic flags and of all things cassette tapes-both of my kids were most fascinated by the rolls of quarters that were still tucked away in there.  “I needed them,” I told them, “to do my work.  Its how a story got on the air quickly.”

“Why didn’t you take out your cell phone?” 8.5 asked me.  A question that cemented the realization that my kids only know a world of the cell phone.

It’s a changed world.  I was talking to another parent at one of my daughter’s softball games the other night-and we were talking about growing up in the late 70′s and early 80′s-when our bikes meant freedom, and we were out the door after breakfast and knew to be home (or at least close by) about the time the street lights flipped on at night.

But that’s not today’s world.  And that’s not what this is about.

Instead, it’s about the icons that we know shift.  Has the iPhone replaced the phone booth?  Remember the scene from one of the Chris Reeve Superman movies, when he was looking for a phone booth to change in, and all he found were the partial phone booths mounted on posts?  It was the start of the modular life.

Dropping 10.5 off at her friend’s house tonight, we were talking about my aversion for electric cars.  I believe they are a feel good green effort rather than a true change.  I’ll buy a flex-fuel car-and look to not put gas into it, I truly hope the gas station my daughter’s know today will be the phone booth of my grandchildren’s world.

Until then though-even in the latter stages of my early 40′s I can remember fondly just a little, right?

 

Being Pro-Fit

I recently started a fitness training program and post regular updates on my website. I wrote this post to give my reason why I am getting fit. I think being a parent comes with many responsibilities and one is to teach our children how to live a healthy lifestyle. I thought this might be motivation for some of you thinking about doing a fitness program. This  is cross posted at www.charlieprofit.com (click the Insanity button). [Read more...]

Changing your toilet and other dad duties

Recently I spent a Sunday afternoon replacing the insides of one of the toilets in the house.  It was finally time because I couldn’t tighten things anymore to stop it from leaking, as the hard water had taken its toll on the seals. So I set about my business.

As is sometimes the case, it never goes exactly as planned.  The instructions were so-so, obviously written by someone who doesn’t understand English fluently, therefore some of the steps just didn’t make sense.  So I had to use all my brain power to decipher what I was really supposed to do to make this thing work.  Having a Master’s degree didn’t seem to be making a difference, so I had to rely on my good-ole dad common sense that we are all blessed with, right?  Nothing a little duck tape and wire ties can’t fix when you know what you’re doing.

I finally got the whole thing back together and was eager for the wife to come flush so I could beam with pride, but she didn’t seem too interested.  So I stood there looking at the toilet, flushing it a few times just because I could.  And I started thinking…

One of these days my sons are going to call me up and need my advice about things such as this.  Just like I have relied on my dad for years for advice. If I can’t figure it out, then my go-to guy is dad. How to replace shingles? Call dad. Why won’t my mower start? Call dad. And one of these days, I am going to be the go-to guy.  And I am not totally sure I’m ready.

Everything that my kids ask me to help with now, I got no problems with. I can handle it, as long as it doesn’t involve solving linear algebra theorems. But I am the dad, and I am supposed to have the answers. What if I don’t have the answers? Believe it or not, that worries me.  I guess I’ll face that when the time comes.  For now, I’ll be spending a little more time watching HG-TV.  Oh, and I think I’ll flush that toilet a few more times.

A Dad’s Tribute To Moms…

It’s safe to say that not one of us dads could or would be a dad if not for a MOM!  Actually, if not for two moms – our mom as well as the mom of our beloved children!  As I write this I realize that I have already expressed similar thoughts here two years ago for Mother’s Day 2009…  As we have many new readers, rather than re-invent the proverbial wheel, here again is a poem I wrote back then, “Without Moms There Wouldn’t Be Dads…”   Enjoy, and have a wonderful Mother’s Day with all the mothers in your life.

WITHOUT MOMS THERE WOULDN’T BE DADS
by Jeff Sass

There wouldn’t be Dads if not for Moms,
No boys to play baseball, or ask girls to proms.

If it weren’t for Mothers there would be no Dads,
No men to be fathers after starting as lads.

If we didn’t have a Mommy there wouldn’t be a Daddy,
Who would be left to drive everyone batty?

It takes two to tango, and two to make kiddies,
Without all our Moms, things wouldn’t be so pretty.

Every Father started with a Mother,
So who can we thank? There can be no other.

To become a great Dad there are two women you need,
Your mom, and the woman who’s the mom of your seeds.

So every Dad must be full of praise,
And cherish every Mom on Mother’s Day.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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: © Kellie Folkerts – Fotolia.com

 

Google’s “Dear Sophie” Ad Makes Dads Proud!

Product commercials are known to be sappy on occasion.  It seems the pulling of our heartstrings is a proven selling technique right up there with sex and humor.  Effective branding ads frequently play with our emotions, creating clever brand associations that, when they work, can be deep and lasting.  Google has a winner with it’s current ad for Chrome, as a Dad’s love and pride for his daughter is brilliantly expressed through the thoughtful and personal digital history he creates for her, leveraging Gmail and other Google products from within his Chrome  browser.

Scrap the Scrapbook!

Granted, this is a commercial, but the email diary Sophie’s Dad creates for her is a brilliant idea any Dad (or Mom) can use as a way to memorialize all those special moments as our kids grow from infancy to insanity.  For a geek Dad this seems far better than a scrapbook.  Just set up an email account for your kid, and start sending them emails, with pictures and videos as attachments.  Then, one day, when they are old enough, and least expect it… hand over their username and password, and let them read through their life through your eyes!  Easy. Fun. Touching. Brilliant!   I wish I could have done this when my (now young adult) kids were kids.  What do you think?

Here is the ad, “Dear Sophie.” (Hat tip to MG Siegler at TechCrunch, which is where I first saw the ad…)

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Extended Family Plan

The super-sized planJust a word of warning to regular readers-this post will likely get more than a little sappy, and I can not guarantee the readability.

Since the beginning of last summer, I’ve been trying to instill a sense of extended family in my girls.  To let them know that while we see each other all the time, grandma often, the Albany based uncle sometimes, the Hoboken based aunt occasionally their family extends beyond that.  The genesis of this undertaking was the death of my aunt (mom’s sister) nearly a year ago.

Never super close, I always knew when needed I could call and she would do what she had to do.  When my younger brother died, I knew I would need help until my older brother made his way south from Albany and although it was not who my mother would have made her first choice to be to around I made the call-and she was on a plane.  As I thought about that moment, and a few others from the far reaches of my youth, I realized it was my uncle (mom’s brother) who really embodied that spirit and fueled by my mother.

In the days surrounding my aunt’s death, I realized how weakened my uncle was.  In that time frame I was dealing with my own set of issues relating to Risa’s failing health and getting the girls through that, so in a lot of ways I was out of the loop-intentionally by me and by my family trying to protect me.

What many don’t know is about a month after my aunt passed, and a month before my uncle’s death he and I had a conversation.  While he would not let me go to his house to visit, I was able to share with him some thoughts on family and to thank him for at least giving me an example.

When my father died (I was just over 5 when that occurred) I can remember my uncle being omnipresent, and his family being present as well. I saw my cousins if not often, enough to know them well, and have shared memories about growing up with them.  And I also know if I ever need anything from a family member they are a call away-no questions asked.  I hope they know that about me as well, but that is for their blogs I guess.

As all of this was going on, I realized my girls really did not have that sense of extended family and while there were a ton reasons and explanations for this, I could also actively do something to change it.  Slowly and where it made sense I’ve been able to.

It’s an investment of time that is worth making.  So when I had to give up a night and a day to make sure my girls spent time with their cousin in Hoboken, I volunteered for baby-sitting duty.  When my cousin’s oldest had his Bar Mitzvah (this weekend), I made the trip to Brooklyn twice to make sure my kids spent quality time with more than six of their cousins.  When Risa’s cousin invited us to his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I made arrangements to give up two days to make sure my girls were there.  With my niece coming into town in June, I will try to swing things so the girls can spend as much time as they can with her.  When I can, I will keep inviting my brother and his family over for events and holidays, so the sense of family can be natural

Sure I could be doing a bunch of other things, knocking things off the list-but I think this is time well invested.  Call it the super-sized family plan.

 

Transforming My Son Into Steven Spielberg

For many years I have done my dad-ly duties by documenting the various family events such as birthdays, vacations, and sports games.  I have more digital pictures than I care to count, and I will admit that I am quite fond of making music videos of the family events and posting them on Youtube (www.youtube.com/user/stevengholt).

YouTubeI have even helped my kids a few times with their school video projects, and if you are a parent then you know what that means… you end up doing more of the project than your kid.  It shouldn’t be that way, of course, but we want our kids to make a good grade, right?  And if we are honest about it, all the other parents in town are doing their kids’ projects, so it really is a competition between parents and I am certainly not going to let another dad show me up. Doing video can be difficult for many people, so those video projects in the past almost required that I do most of the work anyway. But that changed recently, and I must admit, I am quite the proud papa.

Things started to change when my son, Harrison, got his iPod Touch with a camera.  He started making goofy videos at home and uploading them to Facebook.  They started out pretty silly, with my kids just goofing around.  But then they started to have a point.  They started scripting them, and they weren’t so goofy.  Well, they were still goofy, but it was organized goof which is entirely different.

So when Harrison told me last week that he needed to make another video project for school, I was pretty pumped.  I was excited to see just how much he would get into this.  So when we sat down to talk about it, I told him that all great directors, like Steven Spielberg, did certain things when planning their films.  He wanted to know what.  So I told him that you have to have a screenplay to start with.  You need to have good actors.  And you definitely have to have a shot list.  Spielberg always has a shot list.

So we sat at the kitchen table and wrote up our screenplay (Ha), which no doubt Spielberg would never approve of, and wrote down our shot list.  We enlisted one of his brothers to join the production and bribed one of the dogs with treats to be the star of the show.  We planned out our jokes, the punch lines, the scene locations around the house, the props we would need, and we got busy.

My son was a real pro.  He came up with the best punch lines, he evaluated the best lighting locations, and he gave me some great bloopers to work with.  He transformed into Spielberg right before my very eyes.  Well… sortof.  He did great, and we made some great memories in the process.

To see our final result, “How To Wash A Dog”, go here.  And post a comment if you like it!

On The Road… Again

Last week 3/5ths of the Cast of Dads had the chance to get together for a road trip from Boston to NY thanks to the the teams at Ford and Sony who tried to be the first brands to get all of us together.  Unfortunately, crazy dad schedules (that is – crazy schedules, not crazy dads… well…) prevented Max and Michael from joining us, but Brad, C.C. and I (and Danny from the DadLabs team) were supplied with a 2011 Ford Explorer to drive from Beantown to the Big Apple for the New York International Auto Show.

2011 Ford Explorer

The Explorer was loaded with so much cool technology it was like driving a four wheeled gadget, and we were loaded with our own technology to ensure we created lots of content to share with you along the way.  Once we arrived in New York we were treated to a party sponsored by Ford and Sony for the unveiling of the new FORD TAURUS, and featuring an amazing performance by the band TRAIN.  You can also check out some C.C.’s photos as well as some pictures I took at the party and the Auto Show as well.  I will be sharing a lot more content from the Cast of Dads road trip.

Along the way we reminisced about our own family road trips and shared some stories and memories in this short video.  Stay tuned for more… and Enjoy!

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.

Disclosure: Ford & Sony covered travel expenses and gave us press access to the auto show. We were provided with a Ford vehicle to drive from Boston to New York. All thoughts, words and anything else we say is totally our own opinions.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Signs, Signs Everywhere is Signs

Cross posted from Dad the Single Guy:

Can you read them all?There are lots of signs out there-some that are really obvious, like the ones on the road when you are driving. Some that are designed to make you take an action, like a sale sign in a store, and some that are societal-a parent non-verbally communicating with their children, unspoken communication between siblings or the underpinnings of a conversation; at least partially implied.

And so it goes.

Over the extended spring break the girls have had from school, I’ve done a lot of driving-and read lots of signs on highways and roads. Those are pretty easy. I’ve also started doing some camp shopping, and although it can be confusing the sale signs in stores are pretty evident and can be read pretty easily.

Last night I went out to dinner with my kids, and was not overly happy with their behavior at the table. After a warning, came the look. You know it. You use it. Your parents used it on you. The look. A non-spoken sign, but sign none the less.

Then comes the much tougher ones-the ones that are implied or at least partially implied through conversation or actions. The ones that carry a lot of meaning to the conveyor, but if missed can create an awkward moment for all.

I was at the gym this morning, just doing my thing. Generally at the gym I am not a talker, it’s not a social event for me. That said, there are a couple of people I know at the gym-most because of the years I’ve been going and others are from the community and we cross paths at the gym. This morning I was talking to a friend in the former category-someone who I crossed paths with two gyms ago and has moved gyms over the years on about the same schedule as I do.

(BTW, there is a whole post about changing gyms-its not a very easy thing to do)

As I was talking with John, a woman I recognize from the gym I work out in now came up to us and interjected herself into the conversation. After just a few minutes of idol chit-chat with no real meaning, I kind of peeled away, but the ear-buds back in and got back at it. Five minutes later I looked over and John was still engaged.

Twenty minutes later, now on the treadmill, John got onto the open one next to me and told me the woman I turned away from wants to go out. Now, I’ve seen her just about every day for the last six months, we’ve waved and nodded-I think I’ve even had a quick conversation on an elliptical machine (boxed in with nowhere to run). But I’ve never gotten that vibe.

So now I have to think about what tomorrow will be like. I’ll go for avoidance-just to keep it simple. But now I know. Have to read ALL the signs.

 

My CostCo Love Affair…and My New Traeger Smoker

I love CostCo.  I love getting a deal and I love that their deals cover everything from electronics to apparel, from books to food to a pack of batteries so large I never think we’ll go through them all (we always do).

I love their return policy as well…in short, it’s satisfaction guaranteed.  Always (ok, on electronics, games, cameras, etc. you have only 90 days to decide…but for everything else, no matter the reason at any time, they’ll take it back).

And I think that’s why I have a new Traeger Smoker.  I bought it thinking, “Ok, if I don’t use it or really love it, I’ll just bring it back.”  But in the back of my mind I knew the real truth: who ISN’T going to love or use a smoker that is as easy to use as this?

It was a “special” something only stocked and sold during the weekend visit I had just made (which then only FURTHER drove me to buy it and “try” it…that limited time offer thing gets me at CostCo every time!)

I wound up taking home the “mid-size” option, the Lil Tex Elite, large enough to smoke a brisket and a full slab plus of ribs.  Which is exactly what I threw on the Sunday after I bought it.

It’s far easier to use than my old smoker — and far easier to clean up.  I don’t have a hot mess of a drip pan filled with water and all the drippings from the meat I’m smoking.  The wood that fuels the smoker is even easier: no soaking, no adding more wood hours into the process.  The Traeger smokers use wood pellets (available in more than a dozen varieties, from mesquite to hickory, apple to pecan).  The pellets sit in a hopper and fall onto an ignition rod with the help of a slow-turning auger.  The higher you turn the heat, the more frequent the auger turns…from dropping pellets onto the rod once every few minutes to nearly constantly.  A convection fan below the heating element then circulates the smoke around the grill.  At the lowest setting, the meat cooks around 180-190 degrees while on high, it hovers near 450.

The result is pure bliss…made only better by the fact that CostCo sells pork baby back ribs by the three pack.  It’s my new summer project!

 

Water Changes Everything

Here’s something new from Charity Water, a charity Dad-O-Matic endorses and supports. It’s called “Water Changes Everything” and it clearly shows the tremendous impact that clean water has on families all over the world. We all know the importance of clean water but too many of us don’t fully realize how tough it is for people to get even a drop of it every day. This is a well done animated short that brings the message home in a big way. We hope everyone thinks about helping out as they gather together this Easter Sunday. Think of the contributions we can make to the world with the simple gift of water.

Please Donate here


 

Here’s the founder/CEO Scott Harrison on TechCrunch TV discussing this new animation and how it came about. One of the most astonishing statistics Scott shares is the fact that US citizens consume 150 gallons of clean water every day while a billion people in the world only consume 5 gallons per day.

(My) Tween(s) and Social Networking

Cross posted from my social media blog-its a relevant discussion for this audience too.

Which ones are your tweens on?As the parent of one tween (10.5 who will be 11 in two months) and an 8.5 who wants to do what her big sister does – social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc., are sources of big concern for me -and I know a lot about them.  Which seems to put me well ahead of my peers who are parents confronting these issues.

To fully understand the issue I (and other parents of tweens today) face, you need to understand the landscape.  Chances are if  you are reading this blog, you do, but for the sake of clarity:

At school, softball, camp-pretty much any place more than three kids gather, eventually the conversation turns to Facebook, texting, YouTube and any one of a myriad of social games.  Now, like many parents I am guilty of enabling this conversation by outfitting my kids with the iPod Touch, which opens up the magic of the app store to them.  I am aware of at least three apps that my girls and their friends use regularly that are not compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  And these are the ones I worry most about.

Through the age of 13 (which is why its the magic number for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc) COPPA provides some rigorous rules about how kids under 13 are treated on websites.  Speaking as someone who has had to consider COPPA compliance – it’s not treated lightly in large companies.  I can see in some start-up environments though there being more of a “let’s wait to see if someone complains” attitude.

Basically, COPPA provides strong content guidelines and enforcement as well as protections against the collection of PID (personal identification). Enforcement of COPPA falls on the Federal Trade Commission.

So back to my parenting conundrum.  Both of my kids (more so 10.5) have friends who are on Facebook, regularly post videos to YouTube and are on social gaming sites like Second Life etc.  My kids, not so much.  They have email, I let them on Opionaided (it is COPPA compliant) and they can play social games targeted at tweens that are COPPA compliant.

But the battle continues. Then comes the part that confuses me, although I know it should not.  Since becoming a single parent, I am more apt (perhaps more open) to talking with other parents at school events, temple, parties etc. – and they seem unaware of the kind of information their children are sharing on social networks.

 

Making Today A Better Day Than Yesterday

This is cross-posted from Dad The Single Guy because I think the audience here will have a different take on this one:

While it sounds simple, for the last 18 months or so I’ve tried to focus on getting day-to-day for me and the girls, and along the way doing the best I can to make today better than yesterday.  And I’ve tried to help the girls understand this philosophy and implement it in their day-to-day as well.  Along the way there have been successes and failures.  By my rough count-we come out ahead though; more wins than losses.

I paid my doctor a visit yesterday-it has been a while, and as I was giving the nurse the updates on my history, I told her I was now widowed and we discussed that briefly.  A little later in the discourse came the discussion of , “What meds do you take?”

I am not one to take meds needlessly.  In fact, even when the girls are sick, if it’s just a cold I really don’t medicate them, and almost never give them antibiotics.  It’s a personal choice.  So, when she asked me what meds I was on, I answered Zyrtec for my allergies.  Her response was, “Are you sure?”

I was pretty sure, so I asked her if she had anything good I could try.  She then told me she was expecting me to say some course of antidepressants.  And I was taken aback by that.  I’ve never even thought about needing that.  It’s just never been a part of my thought process.  Mind you, I am in weekly therapy, and the girls between school and private go twice a week-and yet I just have never even thought about it.

Which made me ask if she thought I needed it.  Her response was, “Men are good at hiding their emotions anyway.”  I am barely in my doctor’s office once a year, so there is no real way the nurse there would know my baseline, so I let the whole conversation slide-but it does make me think…

Am I too focused on the moment?  Is it time to start thinking about tomorrow and next week and pull the focus away from what is happening now?

There is a good case to be built for that-for too long my focus has been on making sure today is a good day that we are missing out on what is ahead; not taking advantage of all there is.

But that said, there is still so much complexity in the here and now that I don’t think in total we would be doing as well without focusing on it.

So onward we go, perhaps over simplified-but when all is said and one, today will be better than yesterday.

 

Is YouTube raising my kids?

It looked really cool. My 11 year old son had taken a piece of paper on the counter and folded it into a boat, although I didn’t know at that moment that he was the one who did it. At first I thought that he might have found it somewhere, but I asked him where he got it and he said he made it. You made it? Really? I had never seen my son do origami, so I was a bit perplexed. I mean, I hadn’t paid for origami lessons. He then proceeded to make other paper things, and I was still sitting in wonderment about what had happened.

YouTubeHow did you learn this son? ‘Youtube’ he says. Yep, Youtube taught my son the art of oragami. A few days later I came upon my daughter practicing a song on her guitar by watching… yep, you guessed it, a Youtube video. After all, she could pause the video and watch it over and over again till she got it. Now, tell me again why I am paying for guitar lessons??

So obviously this caused my mind to start wondering. What exactly are my kids learning on Youtube? Do I need to be concerned? Should I feel jealous that my kids weren’t coming to me to learn those things that fathers are supposed to teach their kids? Was Youtube replacing me? Well, Youtube isn’t going to give them any money for the movies, so I feel pretty secure that I’m not going anywhere. At least, I think so.

I must admit I have used Youtube countless times to learn something I needed to know. It just never occurred to me that my kids would be doing the same thing. And honestly, I am starting to get a new perspective on this. Now that I think about it, I can use Youtube to my advantage. Dad, can you show me how to shave? Youtube, son. Hey dad, how do you tie this knot? Youtube, son. I am starting to like this. Now, if I can just find a video on how to take the garbage out so my oldest son can visualize it.

A Boy And His Dog… And A Pet Peeve About Digital Photography

A Boy And His Dog...

In this age of digital images, how many of you still have boxes of family photos hiding in the darkest corners of your least visited closets?  With the near ubiquity of digital photography, for many of us, our family memories have come out of the closet and have moved onto hard drives and online services like Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, Shutterfly and others.  The shoe-box is back to storing shoes (and perhaps a bunch of those receipts you think you will need, save forever, and never touch again…Yeah, I have a bunch of those boxes too…)

Exposed!

Digital photography has changed the way we take pictures and the way we think about taking pictures.  With no limitations and no cost for film and processing, we take more pictures than was ever imaginable in the good ‘ol Kodachrome days.  My kids were born before digital became de facto.  When going on a family vacation it was a big deal (and often a financial consideration) to decide how many rolls of 12, 24 or 36 exposures we would bring along.  Burning through 3 rolls of 36 (a whopping 108 pictures) during a week long trip was a lot for me to take back then.  Today, with no consideration for film and processing, I might shoot 200 – 300 pictures in a single day without blinking (or worrying about the vacation budget.)

Let’s Get Physical

Thanks to digital I am interested in and enjoying photography more than I ever have before, but the bulk of the pictures I take these days remain in digital form.  I very rarely make prints of the images I capture.  They are backed up on various digital devices and drives, and exist online, but they generally aren’t readily available to touch and hold, or stumble upon when packing up a room in order to move… which is how my son came across the picture above (which I scanned to digital in order to share it with you here.)  That little boy with the big dog is now 22 years old, and just moved out into his own home. While packing his things it fell out from between some books… something a digital picture will never do.  It was a fun moment of random discovery that brought back some fond memories for the both of us.

Prints Or Pauper?

Do you take time to review your digital memories “on screen” as if they were still in the shoe-box?  Or do you print most of your pictures and still keep them around as stills in physical form?  What do you do to make sure you don’t miss the chance to encounter an old memory like my boy and his dog?  Please leave a comment and share how you keep your digital memories fresh in mind.

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Masters Thursday is When I Miss My Dad the Most

20110406-112229.jpg

It’s Masters Thursday and that means it’s the day I miss my father more than any other day of the year. More than his birthday (and more than mine). More than the day he died 10 years ago (how can it be 10 years?!?)

You see…my dad loved golf. Loved to play it. Loved to watch it. All the time. Any player, any tournament, pro tour, qualifying tour or local high school kids. And every April, he’d settle in to watch the sport’s annual Super Bowl. How amazed he would be today that he could go out tomorrow and play a round of gold, bringing along a device like an iPad that could keep him up to date on the day’s scores in Augusta while he was putting in suburban Chicago. That he could pull up video replay of yesterday’s hole-in-one by Craig Stadler from wherever he was.

If your dad is no longer alive and with you, what makes you remember him most fondly? And if he is still here, what do you think that moment will be at that sad juncture down the road?

Work, Life and What’s In Between

I am cross posting this verbatim from my Dad the Single Guy blog because I think it will work as is for this audience as well:

A friend of mine who studies and embraces work-life balance shared a link on her Facebook recently to a US News blog about managing the work environment when things at home are not going very well.   And seeing as I’ve lived that experience, I was wondering how close I came to following the thoughts in the blog, since clearly I did not have the blog to fall back on.

(As an aside, of all of the things I have spent time researching, that is not one of them.  I always went with a mix of gut instinct and need to know, rather than creating a strategy).

Over the 13+ years I went to work with a wife at home with a brain tumor, in a rough count, I told or confided in 21 people at the supervisor level.  In some cases I told managers of managers, so all of these people were not my immediate supervisors, but all had supervisory responsibilities over me or my immediate bosses.  (I should say about two-thirds of this list covers the five years I spent working for CBS).  The other high-level observation is that the list grows quickly over the last 18 months as Risa’s condition worsened.

The 21 people noted above do not include my peers or the people who I managed who I also confided in over the years.  So without 1-critiquing the US News post and 2-offering up a check list of do’s and don’ts, here are some thoughts:

Maintain professionalism at all times.  Don’t say more than you are comfortable with and know how you will end the conversation on your terms.  People are generally curious, and try to relate things back to their own point of reference, it helps them understand the event.  Know where your limits are and be willing to say, “I really don’t want to get into that.”

Be honest with your boss(es) and co-workers.  You know what you are dealing with and you (should) know what that is doing to your mental and physical capacity.  The work will keep on piling up whether you can take it on or not.  You need to ask yourself if you can handle it, and try to stop the flow when it gets overwhelming.

Along these lines, see if you can work from home.  I know in my case, I commute 4 or so hours a day.  Work from home is time back.  Also, don’t be afraid to take a mental health day (and when you can wrap it into a long weekend).  Taking a day to take someone you are caring for to medical treatment, or dealing with a personal issue is not the downtime you need.  Physically and mentally, I found the odd mental health day did wonders.

Find a place to escape.  For me, it’s the gym.  Under normal circumstances, you’ll find me at the gym at 345 in the morning.  It’s not an ideal time for anything other than sleeping, and I know that.  But I also know it’s the time I can go to the gym and not have to worry about anything, deal with anything, get texts or call–it’s truly “me”time with no distractions.

There is a way to balance personal life issues with a full-time work schedule-and even personal life issues with your personal life so it’s not all over-whelming.  You do need to feel out the people you interact with and know what their limitations are-both to cope with you while you are coping and to potentially have to pick up some additional work or responsibilities while you are out.

During my career I’ve gotten two great pieces of advice about how to handle these stressful situations.  I just so happens, both came from female bosses.

One when my younger brother died suddenly.  My boss (I was working at ABC News) told me to do what I had to do to get it right-because I only had one shot at it.  And looking at that advice more at the macro level and less micro to that specific event-she was right.  Do what you need to do.  Know what you need to do and communicate that to the people you need to.  From there the rest follows.

The other piece I got was when I started at CBS News and my boss at the time asked me if it was OK to ask me questions about treatments, radiation and dealing with cancer.  What I did not know at the time was that her mother was approaching end-stage cancer.  We all carry something, and whether we mean to or not, we tend to judge one another on how we carry those things.

Your boss, co-worker or peer has something going on in their life that pulls their focus away.  It’s not a contest who has it worse-we all have degrees of things we have to carry.  Be compassionate and considerate.

 

Follow Me On the Yellow Brick (Road)

One of the interesting things about being a 40+ tech nerd is that I have what I think is a unique and different view of devices and apps than the usual 20-something.  So when I go to a Tweetup (a meeting of Twitter users), I am usually the oldest or among the oldest.  When I am part of a FourSquare swarm (20+ FourSquare check ins at a single location) again I am usually among the oldest there.  And frankly, I am pretty comfortable with it, I can hold my own.

Now, if you are reading this and do not know what FourSquare and Twitter are, it may be a little rough, but hang in and who knows maybe you can unleash your inner tech-nerd.

(If you are on Twitter and don’t yet, please do follow me @esd714)

For the last couple of weeks-at the urging of the CEO of a company called Yellow Brck I have been testing and using a location based social app geared to parent called Yellow Brick.  Its a free app for iOS (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) available via iTunes.

Basically, the app allows you to mix location based checkins (FourSquare) with activity based check ins (Get Glue) and share them with your (limited right now) Facebook network.  When you dig a little deeper into the app, there are some good couponing features that are location based.

Right now, while the user base for the app is small, it seems most of the couponing is NYC based.  I would be interested in hearing from anyone not in the NYC area who tries this app if they have a different couponing experience.

To check in on the app, after opening it, select check in, and then drill down first through activities (and remember this is a parents and kids app).  The list includes movies, birthday parties, parks and nap time.  Once the activity is selected, you have the option of including a location.

Location services appear to be driven from the device’s LBS-so you have to agree to allow the app to know where you are and its a pretty extensive list.  One thing I would like to see going forward is a way to read review on locations-either via Yelp or home grown within the app.

Right now the app draws friends and shares information only with Facebook.  This is a calculated decision based on engagement on Facebook.  Twitter networks tend to be broader, but less engaged.  I would want to see this option (especially for friending) extended to Twitter.  In many cases I have friends who are mobile on Twitter but not on Facebook-but that may be a fringe use-case.

The other nice part about the network sharing, is the ability to not share location information with your network.  I have written about this extensively on my social media blog.  Its a best practice, and one that I practice dillegently to only share location information with people I actually know.

The flip-side is being able to connect with others (on FourSquare I have had many productive and inpromtu business meetings) based on check ins and knowing where key people in my network are.  The same with parenting (and Single Dadd’ing).  Its always great to hook up with friends and kids friends and a few fewer calls and texts to make it happen is not so bad.

For now, Yellow Brick is only available for iOS.  The CEO says an Android version is in the works.

Give it a shot, and friend me up.

The Modern-Day Family Summer Vacation

So we sat down at the computer like we always do (my wife and I that is) to figure out which week we needed to block out for the family summer vacation. We did this about a month ago, at the beginning of March.  We are still trying to figure it out.

I remember back when I was kid, you know, back when my mom dressed me and my brother in large butterfly collars made out of polyester?  But I digress.  Another post for another day.  Anyway, way back then our family always took a summer vacation somewhere.  We had a monster station wagon, ala Chevy Chase’s Vacation, that we packed to the gills and drove all over the country.  The gulf coast, the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest… everywhere.  For a couple years we hauled a pop-up camper and stopped at every KOA campground we could find.  Beanie weenies out of a can, roasted marshmallows, and mom’s ham sandwich on white bread.  Then a couple years later we got a small motor home, and we were really high-rollers. Man, that was the life.

Holt familyDon’t get me wrong, the thought of spending days traveling in a station wagon just to get to where I need to go seems like torture today.  But God bless my parents for having the constitution to put up with me and my brother cooped up in that wagon.  Because what it did was build a boatload of memories that we still talk about today.  And it instilled in me the importance of carving out at least 1 week a year to bond as a family. So every year we go somewhere.  Don’t hand me this ‘stay-cation’ crap either.  We need to get out of town and have some fun.

So I do my dad-ly duties and document the entire thing with pics and video so I can make a video clip after it’s over.  Then we have a family video premier of last summer’s vacation prior to leaving for this year’s summer vacation.  We then laugh and talk about what great fun (or not so fun) that we had last summer, and get pumped up for this year’s summer vacation. (you can watch some of the videos here by the way, if you are interested: my family Youtube channel)

Which brings me back around to the point of this post.  We can’t find a free week to go on vacation this year.  Sports camps, 4H camps, church camps and mission trips, conferences my wife and I have to attend… the summer is already gone.  The summers seem to be getting shorter, our kids are getting busier, and the days of the family vacation may be slipping away like so much morning mist.  Surely other families are having the same problem??

But I remain confident that we will find a way.  By golly, we may have to put our foot down and tell the kids they have to skip a camp or two, but we will go on a family vacation.  And this year we are gonna make them eat beanie weenies and crackers for at least one meal.  I’m so excited, I can’t stand it!

Visiting Day At The Kids’ House (and Dinner for Dad)

2/3rds of the Sasslets

Kids: You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them!  Granted, that expression may have originally been coined for someone (er, some gender) other than kids, but these days I’d like to think it has ample applications to our offspring, for, as challenging and frustrating as being a parent can seem at times, the rewards far outweigh the work, and when the days of being needed daily suddenly come to an end it is, frankly, quite an adjustment.  I will soon be celebrating my 23rd year of fatherhood, and for the first time in over 22 years, I am living my life in a house without kids.

Empty Nest, Full of Pride…

Sure, it is an accomplishment to get your kids to the point when they can go out into the world on their own, and start playing in the same game of “adulthood” that we, ourselves, navigate each day.. but it is an accomplishment that comes with a price… the price of change… the price of not being “needed” in the ways you have become so accustomed to… in the ways the have been so deeply and dearly ingrained in your life as a parent. While I am filled with immense and immeasurable pride for my kids, for what they have accomplished, and more importantly, for the fine young people they have become, I am at times overwhelmed by how much I miss having them around.  I knew this was coming, and that I was about to experience a taste of sunrise, sunset, but I never imagined how truly different things would feel.

Keep Your Friends Close, Your Enemies Closer, And Your Kids As Close As Possible

While my middle son has been thriving at college in Boston for a few years now, I was spoiled to have the other two here with me at home.  Now, since my oldest son has become a first time homeowner and has absconded with my daughter, his sister, as a housemate, I am left to my own devices, and fewer vices.  Miraculously, there are no longer stacks of filthy dishes in the sink when I come home.  Lights and televisions are not left on in rooms that are unoccupied.  Plates of half eaten food and half filled glasses are not strewn about the most unlikely nooks and crannies of the house to feed the undernourished community of grateful ants. The laundry room is available for me to do my laundry… any time I want.  My house is CLEAN.  My house is QUIET.  My house is BORING.  Luckily, my “local” kids have only moved ten minutes away, and in an odd twist of “role reversal” after so many years of feeding them, I was invited to “their house” for dinner for the first time.

It was wonderful.

Parenthood is forever, and forever changes.  Cherish every moment along the way.  The things you find most aggravating today are likely the things you will miss most sorely when they are gone…

(And if you can get at least one of your kids to become a professional chef, you’ll enjoy “dinner at the kids house” even more!)

2:58 a.m.

… and I’m sound asleep.

“Joey? The dog.”

I hate this. But I don’t fight it. My wife needs her sleep. And I can usually fall right back to sleep.Beautiful Starry Sky @ Likas, Kota Kinabalu

The dog bolts out the front door. I wait.

Nothing.

“Brooklyn!” “Brook!”

Five minutes. Ten.

Finally the dog resurfaces. By now, I’ve complained about him on Twitter.

At this point, I’m kind of awake but decide to go upstairs.

“Dad?”

Ugh. It’s 7yo Lucas. He’s had another nightmare. He’s in his robe, standing in the hallway. I know there is no way he’s falling right back to sleep so I think if I go to bed with him maybe we have a chance.

But his bed doesn’t have the pillows I like (need?). And he doesn’t have heavy covers. And it’s a little cold.

“Come close to Dad. I’ll hold you,” making up somewhat for the missing “arm pillow” I require.

But in five minutes it’s clear. He’s too awake. He’s not going back to sleep.

“Let’s go downstairs for some cereal. And bring your book.”

It’s 3:59 now. We’ve had our cereal. He’s on the computer playing Plants vs. Zombies (don’t tell Beth) and I’m here typing this.

It’s not what I had planned for my pre-dawn Saturday morning. But here we are.

Can you relate?

:: Joe Hage is CEO and Founder of medical device marketing firm Medical Marcom ::

Creative Commons License photo credit: thienzieyung

The Daddy Dating Game

Today was a planned work from home day for me.  It’s a day I can have dinner with the girls and just make sure I am around.  Lately I’ve been trying to schedule two of these a week and try to give them a chance to talk or just hang and not have to worry about sitters and other distractions.

I posted this over on my Dad the Single Guy blog too because I am very fascinated by the way conversation went from fairly benign to very deep in almost no time.  I would be interested in what the community things about this.

Tonight 10.5 had hebrew school, and with Purim in the rear view mirror, temple attention (at least for the Hebrew school  set) turns to Passover.  In the world of Hebrew school that means the model seder.  Today, home came the list of things I have to send it.  Its broken down by class-and that became the jumping off point for a discussion I was no way prepared for, but had to deal with.

In explaining the classes beyond 13, when they have their Bat Mitzvah I tried the metaphor of – right now everything you are learning is about being Jewish and getting ready for Bat Mitzvah.  After that (if they choose to continue) they learn how to be Jewish in life-and begin to identify for themselves what role (if any) religion will have in their lives….

Which somehow lead its way to my dating life, and the gulf between the girls on the subject matter.  8.0 is exuberant in her support of my dating-can’t happen fast enough.  I had to temper her exuberance with a reality check-her mother and I dated for nearly 10 years before we got married.

10.5 has a very different outlook.  She cast it as I am not ready, after all my wife died three months ago.  When I asked her about this, and why she thought it, the reality is she is not ready to have me date.

And it seems the same exuberance that 8.0 has for a female figure, 10.5 is guarded against.  It’s aninteresting split in the girls.  If I had to guess (or if I was sitting in the comfy chair at my therapist) I would guess it has to do with Risa’s physical capabilities from birth to three or four for both.  After 10.5 was born, Risa physically was able to bond and be engaged.  With 8.0 it was much more of a challenge for Risa.  There was no less love (it seems gratuitous to add this, but I feel like I need to) but the ability to manage a 2-3 year old and bond with a baby was just not as robust.

The next interesting part of the conversation came when we talked about specific people-who are single and I could possibly date–10.5′s outlook changes a lot.  Could it be the worry is about her having to bond with someone new?  The challenge of creating relationship dynamics at 10+ rather than having it instilled?

 

Hallmark and the Single Parent

So here it is the first year I am officially a single parent, and no one told me about Single Parent Day-I completely missed it.  (For those like me who are uninitiated to this Hallmark moment, its the third Sunday of March).

I did spend my  Single Parent Day out being a single parent, juggling back-to-back softball practices, play dates, shopping, dinner and getting ready for school today; and did so flawlessly so another day of being a single parent was successful.

I took a look at the National Single Parent Day website, and while there is not a lot there, it does kind of make sense-because there are more non-traditional families in the country than traditional.  But given that statistical reality, should we commemorate “married couple day” too?

I am not sure what I would do if I had even realized there was a Single Parent Day before stumbling upon a reference on Twitter.  Coincidentally I had been working on a post on my Dad the Single Guy blog about plans and making plans when I realized I missed the chance to plan for a new day.

I don’t mean to be cynical about these events-but I am not sure Hallmark moments are truly what is needed.  If it were, we should have a lets do our best day, and make that every day.

The Watermarks of Life

I had the chance a few weeks ago to participate in a week-long training seminar on leadership.  Toward the end of the week I was a little worn out with all the heavy mental calisthenics I had been doing and was really just interested in going home.  Then we had a 4-hour session on the agenda to wrap up the week.  It was led by a woman named Mette Norgaard, and I must admit that I was completely unprepared for what was about to happen.  And I came away from it a changed man.

watermarksI don’t want this post to be about Mette, although I could talk for a very long time about what a phenomenal teacher she is and how she inspired me.  But I will say that I hope to change others’ lives the way that she changed mine that day.  She forced me to think about what it is in life that I really want and how I lead others and my family.  After the session was over I told her that I honestly thought that meeting her was going to be a watermark in my life.  I don’t really know why I said it, and looking back now it seems a little odd to say that to someone.  But it just popped into my head.  She looked at me, smiled, and said, “That is pretty wonderful. Thank you.”

The next day as I was driving home I thought about that.  About watermarks. We all know what they are, but when you think about it in terms of your life it takes on new meaning I think.  I thought back through my life to those times and people that had a profound impact on my life; the people and moments that inspire vivid memories in my head.  I think about my kids and the first time I laid eyes on them.  I think about standing at the alter with my wife.  I think about times I made a difference to someone else, and I think about the times I was a profound disappointment to others.

Everyone we meet, and every important event in our lives leaves watermarks on us.  Some are bigger and bolder than others for sure, but they are all there.  Some marks are painful and leave deep scars too, which are visible at least to us for a long time.  Mette also forced me that day to think about what kind of marks I am leaving on my children.  What do I want them to remember about me when they have this moment that I am having?  I hope that they look at my watermarks on their life as the big and bold ones.

Mette inspired me that day to be better than I am today. To take a chance and do those things that I have always wanted to do, and to be the person I have always wanted to be.  She indeed left an indelible watermark on my life that day, for which I will never be able to pay her back.  So the very least I can do is strive to do the same for others.

When Chores are Done, But They Aren’t Chores

Chores are done todayFor the last two years (maybe even longer) and ongoing struggle in my house is getting the girls (both of them) to do their chores.  I don’t think I have given them a huge burden to take on-washing dishes, vacuuming once/week, cleaning rooms, putting laundry away and taking out the garbage (nightly).  There are two, and the chores are divided-and they are directly tied to their allowance.

Its a simple equation, do your chores, get your allowance no questions asked.  Don’t do your chores, no allowance; once again no questions asked.

Lets say I’ve saved $40/month for the last four months. Yeah its been that long since they managed to do their chores for a full week. Mostly clean floors, oh yeah

Which made today kind of interesting.  With my bi-weekly cleaning lady on vacation-and not scheduled to be here for six weeks I implemented a weekly cleaning ritual today that went over incredibly well.  Each of us (including me) had to clean and vacuum our bedrooms.  We each had one bathroom to clean.  The person (in this case 10.5) who cleaned the 1/2 bath also had to mop the hardwood floors and 8.0 had to vacuum the living room and family room.

Some non-inspired moaning and groaning by 10.5 (if I ask her to do anything other than text her friend via her iPod Touch or get dressed there is moaning and groaning) and all the work was done.

As one of my friends via Twitter pointed out, the girls did their chores.

But we didn’t call it chores, there was no chart, there is no record keeping.  It was just, Christina is on vacation and lets get it done.

So everyone, shhh, its a secret.  They really did their chores.  OK?

 

Whining and #Winning!

One dad clearly #Winning in the news these days is Charlie Sheen, and the Cast of Dads took a few sips of Tiger Blood while recording our 40th episode.  As usual, we cover a cornucopia of topics, from Charile’s angels -er, goddesses, to Dr. Seuss.  As a true sign of a dedicated dadcaster, our own Max Kalefhoff joined us for the show even though he was in the middle of a blackout in New York, prompting a a discussion about flashlights.  Clearly, anything is fair game with this Cast of Dads! Enjoy!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 40

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.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Daddy Wrapping

Got the job done at least, right?

What gifts look like after a daddy wrap

I put this over on my Dad The Single Guy blog this morning, but wanted to add it here because its one of those relationship issues that people on this blog seem to like.

One of the semi-corny things you hear about a marriage is that its a partnership-we all have things we don’t do well, and together, the number of things that are not done well should be diminished.  By and large, I concur with that thinking….

And this morning I was reminded of one of those things that my wife (even as she was losing her physical capabilities) was able to do, and back me up for something I really don’t do well-gift wrapping.  Its trivial I know, but still a place where two together make a better whole.

Knowing this weakness, I usually bluff, and use the gift bag.  But today, because of poor planning on my part, I had to actually take out the wrapping paper and the results just were not very pretty.

 

Whenever I have to wrap presents like that, I am reminded of two stories from my life.

First in college, a girl I was dating was doing an internship at Macy’s (yeah the department store) and she got me and a couple of friends a four day temp job wrapping gift boxes for display after Thanksgiving.  Needless to say, my wrapping days were pretty limited, and they utilized me more in the manual labor area of hauling Christmas decorations around the store.

Second, my days on the deli counter at Valley Caterers in Franklin Square.  I could wrap a meanpound of bologna, but still can’t get a gift wrapped to look normal.

 

Breaking the Rules: The Best Part of Parenting?


A few years ago, my sister-in-law took her pre-teen daughter to the midnight opening of the first Twilight movie. On a school night. I always thought that was the coolest thing ever. Granted, part of the reason I thought it was so cool is because it was a break from the norm. My brother and sister-in-law run a pretty tight ship. Rules are enforced and the kids are well-behaved.

However, when Kim taught kindergarten, she encountered way too many parents who didn’t seem to think any rules were important. Their kids had no set bedtimes, watched rated-R movies, and pretty much ran the household.

So to be clear, I think setting boundaries is one of the most important jobs a parent has, as unpopular as it can often be.

But it’s easy for the good parents to get so caught up in enforcing rules that they forget that they have permission to break them once in a while.

I was reminded of this fact recently during a short conversation with a guy after one of my speaking programs. He had a gruff exterior, but the story he shared proved that inside, he was all gummy bear.

“A few years ago,” he began, “when my kids were young, I said, ‘C’mon, kids, we’re going to the circus.’”

“We can’t dad,” the kids replied. “We have school!”

“I’m the dad. We’re going.”

He went on to explain what a great time they had at the circus that day. And with a dumbfounded grin, he remembered that the reaction of his kids was as if he had just handed them a million dollars.

Exactly.

What good is the authority of parenthood if all you ever do is make rules?

Don’t forget that the best parents also make sure to break them once in a while.

Photo credit: Jennifer Lamb

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. Escape Adulthood — stop by www.KimandJason.com and follow them on Twitter @kimandjason

An Ode To Parenting and Puking

 

I am currently suffering from a bout of empty nest syndrome and one of the symptoms is recalling all sorts of memories of my kids at various stages and ages.  My oldest, now 22, recently ran a half marathon – his first – and afterwards he threw up.  Watching him barf as a young adult reminded me that I had actually watched him puke his entire life.  He was almost permanently ejected from nursery school for his daily disgorges, shortly after his mom dropped him off every morning.  Alas, he survived, as did I, but the memories inspired me to write a poem, “An Ode To Parenting and Puking.”

You can listen to me reading it or read it for yourself below.  I hope you enjoy!

An Ode To Parenting and Puking
By Jeffrey Sass

If you are a parent, you know the scoop,
We were put on this earth to clean up the poop.
When our kids are born we are put to the test,
We must become experts at cleaning a mess.

Learning to breathe through your mouth is a must,
To avoid making scents of what comes from their butts.
No matter how chunky or smelly or mushy,
It’s our duty to clear all the doody from their tushy.

Of course it’d be easy if poop was just it,
But there’s much more to clean than the diapers of shit.
That our kids have a mouth is certainly no fluke,
For how else would they be able to shower us with puke.

It starts on your shoulder when baby is little,
And decorates your clean clothes with splotches of spittle.
As soon as they advance from crawling to erectile,
Their spitting up evolves to vomiting projectile.

In car seats, at school, at the dining room table,
Your kids will throw up as often as they are able.
One moment they are happy, seeming without a care,
And the next they’re streaming vomit like a mini Linda Blair.

If you’ve been at it for years you might be feeling bolder,
But I’ve got news, they still blow lunch when they are older.
When they reach their teens you’d be safe (you’d a thunk),
Until the first time your kid learns to puke from getting drunk.

You see, barfing is something that comes to kids in stages,
It is not limited by size, by gender or ages.
You may not think such behavior befits a young girl,
But sooner or later, your little princess will hurl.

So Mommies and Daddies what ever can we do,
To ensure we are ready when our kids choose to spew?
There’s no point in getting angry or acting any meaner,
Just stock up on more of that anti-bacterial cleaner.

And remember, while holding the sponge and wearing a rubber glove,
That while your kid may give you vomit, you still give them love.

What do you think?  Has puking been part of your parenting too???  Don’t get all choked up… tell us about your experiences in the comments.

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.

“An Ode To Parenting and Puking” (c) 2011 Jeffrey W. Sass
Photo Credit: caraman – Fotolia.com


Enhanced by Zemanta

The Fragile Pyramid

Today was one of those days.  I needed everything to line up just right, and for the most part it did, but there were some very tense moments where it looked like the daily pyramid was going to crumble.

I probably missed the early sign.  I had to catch a train this morning no later than 732.  The girls did their part-no dawdling this morning and we got to school on time.  Of course the person running the program was 7 minutes late.  While that does not sound like much-its my entire buffer to make it from Sound Beach to Ronkonkoma.

But I made it.

Anyone who has visited a media company in the city knows security is generally tight.  For some reason this morning when I got to my first stop (on time) the security folks made two calls and got two different sets of instructions-which rippled into a 915 meeting starting at 935, although I was there at 910.

Bounced through a series of meetings mostly uneventful, and got to my last meeting of the day-where I was giving a presentation.  That’s when my mobile started ringing-and it was the parents of friends of my kids calling.  No way that can be good.

On the second call, I excused myself and found out my afternoon sitter was as of 5 minutes after the school bus rolled by-a no show.

So, I had to walk into a “C” level meeting and ask for a 10 minute recess.  It works on Law and Order, I can only hope it works in a conference room too.

Five phones calls (and no losing my temper) later-kids are squared up and the sitter has arrived, and I can re-start my presentation.  Now the problem is my flow is gone–so I am standing in front of key executives, PowerPoint fired up and I am stumbling through slides, knocked off my game.

I wanted to just lace into someone, anyone-but that’s not the way this pyramid was built today.  The sands shifted.  Instead, when I spoke with 10.5 and 8.0 I was relieved, and actually choked back a tear or two.  They were never in danger, they did a longer ride and are none the worse for it all.  But still, its just not the way its supposed to go.

I have a plan and I have the parts in place-but the fallback is still a work in progress.  Another alternative to think through, another what if to consider.

So instead, I am looking ahead, tomorrow is a new day, and I get to start it all over again.

 

Amirs Song – A moving song about becoming a father

I’m going to try and bring some of the cool or interesting stories I’ve found in my work at the DADvocate Project over here to the DAD-O-Matic community in the coming weeks and months. Today I’d like to share a music video buy Jean P that I think is just awesome:

Over the course of the last year I’ve written about the DADvocate Project a few times. Today I want to solicit the readers of Dad-O-Matic one last time to participate in the 2010 survey. I’m closing the first survey at the end of March and will be working to publish the results by the end of May in time for Fathers Day.  As of this writing there have been 395 participants in the survey. I’d like to get as close to 500 participants as possible and we have already seen some pretty incredible results about how today’s fathers are involved with their families.

Interestingly on Sunday March 6th  I wrote an article on a UN study that says just the opposite about fathers and that really fatherhood should be classified as a series of relationships men have with various children over time. The fact that world organizations are publishing this type of rubbish only increases the need for the type of study I’m conducting and proves the values of the findings.  I hope all dads out here choose to participate in The DADvocate Project study on fatherhood.

Do Your Kids A Favor And Make Them Ride The Bus

When I was a kid my parents made me ride the bus to school. I hated it. Seriously. In fact, I rode the bus to school until I was able to get my driver’s license and drive to school. What is really telling is that I drove mom’s station wagon. Yeah, I was willing to take the stings and arrows from my friends for the station wagon as long as I didn’t have to ride that bus. But looking back now, I thank God they made me do it.

You know what happens on school buses because you probably rode the bus, right? In some ways I think that every school bus is a microcosm of “The Lord of the Flies”, where only the strong survive. But I have come to believe that we must make our children live in that world if we hope to raise strong, self-sustaining, contributing members of society. Let me explain…

school busSchool buses, as least where I live, are mostly empty nowadays. Why? Just check out the ‘car-rider’ line at your local school and you’ll see why. Kids today are hand-delivered to school. I am sure each family has their own reasons why the kids are driven to school, but I would guess that the majority of the reasons revolve around the kids not wanting to get up early enough to make it to the bus and their desire not to ride the bus, or parents not wanting to make junior stand in the cold and rain. Believe me, I feel your pain kids, I do. But I am worried what we are doing to them.

The first event that caused me to really ponder this whole thing was last December when the NFL moved the Eagles/Vikings game from Sunday to Tuesday because of a snow storm. Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania at the time, sounded off, “We’ve become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game?” Then in January I read this article at Psychologytoday.com called “A Nation of Wimps“, by Hara Estroff Marano. You need to read that article, like now. Go ahead… go. Then come back here and continue reading.

This is already getting long, so let me sum up the high points for you.  As a nation we are encasing our children in bubble wrap (my analogy) so we can shield them from every little bump, every harsh word, and every little problem that could possibly worry their little heads.  I quote from the article: “Messing up, however, even in the playground, is wildly out of style. Although error and experimentation are the true mothers of success, parents are taking pains to remove failure from the equation.”

I believe we are setting our kids up for failure because we don’t want them exposed to the harsh realities of life.  The article calls technology, specifically cellphones, “the eternal umbilicus”.  Boy, does that hit the nail on the head or what?  If kids never experience failure… never get disappointed… never face adversity… have us on direct speed-dial every minute.. what will happen when life hits them when they leave us?  Exactly.  They’re in big trouble.

The best quote I can share with you from that article is this: “Studies of children and adults around the world demonstrate that social engagement actually improves intellectual skills.”  So you wanna make your kids smarter and able to deal with the harshness of life? Make them ride the bus.  What better social engagement could they possibly get?

Sunrise, Sunset

DSC00629

The other day I found myself compelled to take a ride west to the Everglades and take pictures of the Sunset.  When I thought about why I was there, I realized that it was a place I often go to think and clear my head when things in my life are changing.  Years ago, when I was going through a divorce, I spent many evenings there, watching the gators and the sun, feeling comfort in the size, scope and life of the massive marshland.  So what is changing now?  My nest is yet another step toward empty.  Today my oldest son closed on his first home and will be moving from under my roof, to a roof of his very own.

Pride And Prejudice

While I am enormously proud of my son and his accomplishments, and his hard work and dedication to be able to leverage a buyer’s market and become a homeowner at age 22, I am also selfishly sad.  His giant leap toward independence is a small step toward my own changing role as a parent.  As he winds up for the start of his adult life, I am forced to acknowledge that one phase of fatherhood, for me, is winding down.  His sunrise. My sunset.

Fiddling Around

In keeping with the Sunrise, Sunset theme, some lyrics from the classic song from one of my childhood Broadway favorites comes to mind.  From “FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” and the song, “Sunrise, Sunset”:

Is this the little girl I carried,
Is this the little boy at play?

I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty,
When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Trust me, it won’t be long until you too will be asking yourself these very questions.  Have you noticed how fast your kids are growing up???

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.??

 

You Can Let Go Now, Daddy

“You Can Let Go” is the debut song from Canadian country artist Crystal Shawanda which knocked me for a loop. I know that I’m a big ole sucker for these types of songs but I really was moved by this one. It tells the tale of a little girl and her dad as she grows up and learns to become independent which is bittersweet for her father because he knows the more she does that, the less his little girl will need him. Being the dad of a beautiful five year-old myself, that hit home big time. I’m not ashamed to admit that my eyes welled up right away.

I know it’s an age-old cliché but it’s so true that they grow up all too soon. Honestly, one minute you’re celebrating a birth, changing diapers and then they’re dressing themselves and before you know it they’re asking for the car keys. Fortunately, my 12 year-old Nicholas isn’t driving age just yet, but that doesn’t stop him from asking me for the keys all the time. Still, I know it’s right around the corner.

As for the song, it’s such a beautiful reminder for us all to savor each and every moment while we can, especially when it comes to our precious little angels. Not only must we prepare them to make it on their own, but we must also prepare ourselves for the joy and pain of letting them go. Sooner or later, every bird must leave the nest. Also, no matter how insanely hectic things get, with non-stop school events, plays, little league games and everything else, we must remember that we will miss these days in a big way. Stop every once in a while and enjoy the blessings by embracing the sweet serenity that rests within all the chaos that is life.

Here is the wonderful music video followed by the lyrics.

Wind blowin’ on my face
Sidewalk flyin’ beneath my bike
A five year-old’s first taste
Of what freedom’s really like
He was runnin’ right beside me
His hand holdin’ on the seat
I took a deep breath and hollered
As I headed for the street

You can let go now, Daddy
You can let go
Oh, I think I’m ready
To do this on my own
It’s still a little bit scary
But I want you to know
I’ll be ok now, Daddy
You can let go

I was standin’ at the altar
Between the two loves of my life
To one I’ve been a daughter
To one I soon would be a wife
When the preacher asked,
‘Who gives this woman?’
Daddy’s eyes filled up with tears
He kept holdin’ tightly to my arm
‘Till I whispered in his ear

You can let go now, Daddy
You can let go
Oh, I think I’m ready
To do this on my own
It still feels a little bit scary
But I want you to know
I’ll be ok now, Daddy
You can let go

It was killin’ me to see
The strongest man I ever knew
Wastin’ away to nothin’
In that hospital room
‘You know he’s only hangin’ on for you’
That’s what the night nurse said
My voice and heart were breakin’
As I crawled up in his bed, and said

You can let go now, Daddy
You can let go
Your little girl is ready
To do this on my own
It’s gonna be a little bit scary
But I want you to know
I’ll be ok now, Daddy
You can let go
You can let go

photo by Doc_ from StockXchang

“It’s the WAY you said it!”

My son came downstairs, crying.

“I don’t even know WHY I got punished!”

“Well, what did you say?” I asked.

“I said, ‘Well, that’s ok, your chores are small.’” (That was out of context for me but I know Beth doesn’t give arbitrary punishments.)

So I asked, “Would you like to learn something?”

Words, tone, metamessages

I counseled,

They say that only seven percent of what you communicate is from the words you use. 55 percent is the tone you use. And 33 percent is your mannerisms … were you rolling your eyes, etcetera.

Zachary paused and looked at me.

“But that’s only 95 percent!”

[Pause.] [Smile of appreciation, knowing he got the point.]

“Thanks for correcting my mathematical error, Zachary. It’s 38 percent mannerisms.”

Coda

I went upstairs. “Did you hear all of that?” I asked my wife. He said he only said  ‘Well, that’s ok, your chores are small.’”

She smiled, “Yes, he was being rude and I said I would give him an extra chore. He dismissed me by saying, ‘Your chores are small.’ So I said, “OK! Laundry!!”

Seems like a fitting punishment to me.

P.S. As he came downstairs crying, his brother said, “Would you like me to love you?” And we both held Zachary and comforted him. Something in our parenting is working.

Good luck from a fellow dad,

:: Joe Hage is CEO and Founder of medical device marketing firm Medical Marcom ::

Other posts from Joe Hage
The Wonder Years
When your child says, “I’m Bored!”
Tweet your Kids, Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five
Dad’s Life Lessons: Rule #1, Rule #2, Rule #3
Dermott

Angry Birds Lead To A Happy Birthday!

As parents we know that most times it is the simple things we do for our kids that leave the most lasting impression.  The best birthday gifts are often not the ones we’ve spent the most money on, but rather, the ones we’ve spent the most love, care and creativity on.  The best cakes are the ones we bake, not the ones bought at the market.  The video below, which has been making the rounds, is a wonderful example of how much joy you can bring a birthday boy with time, creativity and some loving effort (in this case, about 10 hours according to baker/dad Mike Cooper).  I think you’ll agree with me… as far as cool birthday surprises go, this one really takes the cake!

What’s the most creative birthday surprise you have orchestrated for your child?  Let us know in the comments!

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.??

Enhanced by Zemanta

Having THE Talk: Cast of Dads #39

The full Cast of Dads got together for the first time this year and we talk turkey about one of the most feared feats of fatherdom – having the “sex” talk with your child.  The Cast of Dads’ kids range from toddlers to teens and beyond, so we all have our own unique takes on “THE Talk.”  Take a listen and let us know of your experiences tackling the proverbial birds and bees…

We also touch on other topics, as always, including news of an upcoming give-away of a Dell Inspiron Duo, like the one you may have noticed in our CES show.

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 39

Topics discussed in this episode include:

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads (“The Mother of all Daddy Podcasts!“) 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: iQoncept – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

These Aren’t My Dad’s Shoes

I think most dads would agree that their dad-ness is influenced in large part by the things that their dad did. I know that’s true in my life. My childhood was a normal one I think, with lots of great memories of family vacations, yard work, playground fights, and generally being a kid.

I struggle every day with my desire to be a good dad and my desire for my kids’ happiness. I think I am doing a good job, but there are always doubts in the back of your mind that you are really doing all the right things. I think that is probably normal. And often I think about my dad and the way that he raised us.

Old shoesLooking back, I remember that I looked at my dad as the guy who had the answers. In fact, I still rely on him like that on many levels. When things got dicey, dad was the guy we ran to. He was the one whose approval we sought, and a cross look from dad spoke volumes. Now that I am a dad, I am smart enough to realize that he was going through many of the same thoughts and feelings that I have. I guess that as kids we put our dad on a pedestal and looked at him like he was bigger than life. But the truth is that he was just like us, struggling to make the right decisions.

I am also realizing that even though I am now ‘walking a mile in his shoes’ because I am now a dad, it’s just a little different. Because I am not really walking in his shoes. I am walking down the same road that he did, but I have my own shoes. After I walked a bit in his, I found my stride, and put on my own shoes. They look like his, for sure, because fathers have a profound influence on their kids. But I am doing it my own way. I look to his example and try my very best to emulate the good things I learned from him about how to treat my children.

But these aren’t my dad’s shoes, they’re mine. And I’m good with that.

Help us find a missing young man

My friends Gene and Nellie Coppola are experiencing the worst nightmare imaginable: Their 24-year-old son is missing.

May 2, 2011 Update: They are offering a $3,000 reward for details of Nick’s current location.

 

Missing child needs help

Click to enlarge: Nicholas Coppola is missing

They’ve smartly built a site for and about him at http://HelpFindNick.com. Please visit it and, if you are at all able, consider a donation. They’ve hired a private investigator to help find Nick.

On HelpFindNick, his mother shares the details about his disappearance and local papers (also picked up by the Huffington Post) have covered his story. Still, no Nick, and he is off his medication which makes him, I fear, a threat to himself.

Please post, tweet, or otherwise spread the word about this article to your network? If you have the means, please consider a donation to Help Find Nick. And now, go upstairs, and give your children an extra kiss in gratitude for their safety.

:: Joe Hage ::

Super Bowl, Super Ad, Super Dad!

With the hype and hoopla over, there will be plenty of talk around the water cooler tomorrow about “the game,” and of course, about the commercials.  One of the standout commercials was the “The Force” by Volkswagen for the 2012 Passat.  More than just Star Wars fans will love this humbling homage to the power of Darth Vader, starring the Dark Lord’s very own “mini me.”  The real star of  the spot, however, is one of us… a Dad, who, from the sidelines, amazes his young son by ensuring that indeed The Force is with him (with a little help from the new Passat’s remote control key fob).  It is an awesome moment of awe for young Vader as the family VW (and a clever Dad) help bring his dreams to life, something all Dads want to do for their children.

You’ve likely seen the ad already, but here it is again, and perhaps with a slightly different perspective now.  Kudos to Volkswagen (and their ad team) for charming us, and in the process, giving us some warm and fuzzies about their new Passat line.  It is always great to see great Dads in action, even in a commercial…

?

Last year’s Super Bowl was also a source of inspiration for us Dads.

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.??

Enhanced by Zemanta

It’s What I Do

We dads get so focussed on our jobs and careers that we sometimes lose sight of the things that mean the most in life. Yes, earning a good living is critical for providing for our families so we should all strive to do the best work we can do in order to ensure our livelihood. However, we must be careful not to neglect our true reasons for being…our family. Our spouses and children are why we get up in the morning and do what we do in life. Deep down we all know that but we forget that from time to time because of our hectic schedules.

Billy Dean’s “It’s What I Do” is a wonderful reminder about this powerful truth. We should never identify ourselves with our jobs no matter how successful we are or how much we love what we do. At the end of the day and at the end of our lives what we will remember the most won’t be what we did at work but who we loved and those who loved us.

It’s What I Do
Billy Dean

I knew a man
He was a real go getter
What he did to climb
The ladder of success
And how far he went
Was how he measured
The worth of his life
And who he was
But that’s all behind me now because

Loving you
It’s what I do
It’s the only thing I’ve found I can put my heart into
It’s who I am
I’m a lucky man
Living the life I choose
Loving you
It’s what I do

I do what I can
To make an honest living
But it’s just a job it’s not
What I am living for
I want to earn
The love you’re giving
That’s all that matters now to me
And no matter what I’ll always be

Loving you
It’s what I do
It’s the only thing I’ve found I can put my heart into
It’s who I am
I’m a lucky man
Living the life I choose
Loving you
It’s what I do

Kids Are More Tech-Savvy, But Does That Make Them Smarter?

“I hate those quizzes dad.”  That’s what my 10 year old told me.  He got a Facebook account for Christmas and his friends immediately started sending him Facebook quizzes and polls.  You know what I am talking about… “which garden tool are you?”  and “So-and-so just took a quiz to see how smart you are. Click here to see what they said!”  He’s only been on Facebook for a little over a month and he is already tired of them.  So I showed him how to hide those posts on his wall and a smile came across his face.  I was super-dad again.

So it started me thinking… will my kids be more savvy when it comes to interacting online and things like this?  Will they be able to see through the BS?

I regularly consult with businesses about social media and internet marketing and so forth, so I am giving them advice about what to do and what not to do.  And I believe (and my experience with my kids confirms this to me regularly) that if Gen Y is your target customer then you have to do things differently.  I have read tons of stuff about Gen Y and how they are different, like in Mark Bauerlein’s book, The Dumbest Generation.  I have spoken many times about it, and I have written about it on my blog as well.  They don’t respond like the rest of us, they don’t learn like the rest of us, they don’t interact like the rest of us, so you have to change the way you are doing things.

So the question remains… will my kids be more savvy?  Will their total immersion in all forms of technology make them more aware of the messages that are thrown at them and will they be able to filter them properly?  Well, they already filter lots of things, like phone calls from me.  They’ll respond to my text and ignore my calls, but that’s another post for another day!   Kids will be kids, and that hasn’t changed from generation to generation.  They will continue to make stupid choices and learn the hard way, and that can be a good thing.

So I am coming to the conclusion that even though kids today appear to be more savvy because of all this technology, that doesn’t make them automatically smarter or better at filtering and learning what it takes to be successful and a contributing member of society.  In fact, if left to their own devices, I believe that all this technology can make things much, much worse for them.  The jury is still out on that one, but I fear it might be too late once we find out what effect this is all having on them.  Again, another post for another day.

So in the meantime, my kids still need me to help them wade through this foggy-forest-at-night that is technology and social media.  Plus, it forces me to stay on top of things myself, which is a good thing I believe.

After all, who doesn’t like being super-dad?

(Half) Marathon Man

(Sunday, January 30, 2011) I am writing this after a four mile run. Actually, I am working my way up with interval training, having started a month or so ago by walking two minutes and running one minute, then, a week or so later upping it to two and two, then a week or so later,  two minutes walking and three minutes running and today, feeling inspired, I raised it to alternating one minute of walking followed by three minutes of running.  Soon I hope to be able run the entire four miles…and then, hopefully, even more.

Going The Distance

This morning I drove down to Miami hours before the crack of dawn to watch, up close, the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon.  I had a vested interest in watching this race as my oldest son, Zach, was running in it, his first half marathon.  I am in awe of Zach these days, and find him to be an incredible source of pride and inspiration to me.  It seems for the moment our roles have been reversed.  The parent/mentor has been outdone by the child/mentee.  While, as the Dad, I am the one who is supposed to motivate and lead by example, now it is Zach leading me down the path of aspiring to run.  In less than a year, Zach has, on his own, lost nearly 150 pounds and now he has trained for, and completed, a half-marathon – 13.1 miles.

Motivation and Perspiration

I found myself overcome with emotion as I watched Zach and the other runners, many in wheelchairs or otherwise physically challenged, many younger than me, and quite a few older than me, all glowing with the sweat of determination as they passed me on the sidelines while they were enroute to the finish line.  Each was competing with over 20,000 other runners, yet each was completing their own very individual and personal triumph.  I came away from the race extremely proud of Zach, and motivated myself.  I did not share the marathoners’ perspiration, but I did share their inspiration, and I hope to one day experience walking- er, running, in their shoes.

Watching the marathon reminded me that there are no limits to our ability to achieve.  There is so much we are capable of, so much we can accomplish, when we just put our mind to it and decide to make it so.  You just have to take one step after another, again and again and again… Keep moving forward and keep the finish line foremost in your mind.  I learned that from my son.

How about you?  What are your kids teaching you?

Here is an Animoto video of some of the pictures I took of Zach and the Miami Marathon.

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.??

P.S. & Disclosure: The pictures in the Animoto video above were taken with a Sony NEX-5Camera (affiliate link), which I received as a sample from Sony that I am not expected to return.  It is a great camera and my fellow “Cast of Dads” cohort, Michael Sheehan, has a great and detailed review of the camera here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mud is Too Dirty: Have You Become Your Parents?

Comic by Jason Kotecki

Having kids does weird things to you.

The gravity of being the one responsible for the care and development of another human being can be overwhelming. The role of responsible “grown-up” can make you terribly paranoid, overly strict, and endlessly stressed-out.

In other words, completely Adultitis-ridden.

A woman named Johanna recently described this transformation on her blog:

I realized I had Adultitis when our second child was born 6 years ago. Bugs were icky, mud was too dirty and craft projects too messy. I thought to myself, when did this happen? I used to love playing with bugs and especially, my all time favorite childhood past time, making mud pies. That same day I took my then one and three year old out into the backyard to play in the mud. The process to heal myself of Adultitis has been at a standstill. This year my resolution is to find something more exciting to do with the dear husband than walk around Costco on date night.

I’m sure that many parents can relate to this turn of events. One day we’re free spirits enjoying life, and the next day we’ve turned into our parents. When you’re the one responsible for laundry, mud pies don’t seem so appetizing anymore.

Too often we resign ourselves to a life that is void of fun and adventure.

But that is not your only choice! It is not an all-or-nothing proposition.

Having kids gives you permission to be goofy, and to do things you probably wouldn’t have felt as comfortable doing before you had them. Building snow forts in your front yard. Dressing up for Halloween and going trick-or-treating. Demonstrating “proper technique” when using a Slip ’n Slide.

One of the most important responsibilities of any parent is to keep their children safe, teach them how to function in society, and discipline them when necessary.

But the truly fortunate kids are the ones who also have parents who take the time to get down and dirty with them, to teach them not to take themselves too seriously, and to treat life as the adventure it is meant to be.

Sometimes it seems like that person is long gone.

If so, have no fear. You’ve got some pint-sized teachers living in your house that I’m sure would be happy to show you how to make a proper mud pie. All you have to do is let them lead and have some fun.

After all, I’m pretty sure that’s why God invented washing machines and laundry detergent.

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. Escape Adulthood — stop by www.KimandJason.com and follow them on Twitter @kimandjason

When Your Child Says “I’m Bored!”

“I’m bored!”

“I don’t know what to do!”

“I’m sooo bored! This is boring!!”

What to do when your child is bored

When I was younger I learned, “It’s good to be bored. It teaches you patience. There will be times in your adult life when you are bored and there will be no one to rescue you.”

(No, that didn’t work for me either.)

So I started poking around the Web. Surely someone’s written about this.

The first thing I found said, “Figure out if she just wants your company. You’ll know if she rejects your ideas for activities she’d do alone. So invite her to chat with you while you pay bills or make dinner.” This may work for the child; less so for me. The boredom cries typically coincide with me having to work. So, indulge or not?

Then it said, “Suggest something unusual” like reading a story to the cat. This sounds more like a strategy for very young children. Mine would be perfectly fine playing more video games!

This one is most like what I learned years ago. “Let her be bored. Don’t rescue her as soon as she complains. Tell her you’ll help her in 15 minutes. By then, she may find a way to keep herself busy.” We’re getting closer, but something tells me Lucas will be back 15 minutes from now.

Child Boredom: A Gift?

Child boredom certainly doesn’t feel like a gift … but this article got me closer to where I started.

It says boredom is a chance for our child to develop skills that will help them leave the nest and lead a full and fulfilling life.

“Part of becoming a successful adult is the ability to problem solve and creatively live one’s life. When your kid says to you, “I’m bored,” what he is really saying to you is that right now I have no idea how to creatively fill my time. Not only is your child’s boredom not a crisis that you need to fill, but it is a huge opportunity for your child to create something out of that bored feeling that will be satisfying and help him develop and mature.”

I also liked the article’s perspective that in an increasingly scheduled and overstimulated society, if your child is occasionally bored, that’s a GOOD thing! “That means you have created some space in his life for him to grow and develop, and you will reap the rewards later if you handle the situation correctly!”

Did this article resonate with you? How do you deal with your child’s boredom?

Good luck from a fellow dad,

:: Joe Hage is CEO and Founder of medical device marketing firm Medical Marcom ::

Other posts from Joe Hage
Tweet your Kids, Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five
Dad’s Life Lessons: Rule #1, Rule #2, Rule #3
Dermott

10 Things I Miss Now That My Kids Are Older…

"When the kids were kids..."

It is Saturday afternoon and I am all alone. Olivia, my daughter and the youngest at 19 is at work at Panera Bread.  My middle Son, Ethan, is in Boston, battling the blizzards and enjoying the extra time he’s getting with his guitar thanks to “snow days” off from college. Zach, the first born and now 22, is done with college and though he is living at home, his schedule as a Chef keeps him out and about most weekends, including today.  How things change in just a few years.  Weekend time that was once devoted to my children is suddenly my own.  While I know they still need me, it is no longer for the daily “hands on” parenting that was once the norm.  The days of “kids will be kids” are now the days of “my kids are adults.” With that in mind, I have nothing better to do than to jot down…

10 Things I Miss Now That My Kids Are Older:

(If your kids are younger than mine, you are likely still experiencing some or all these things.  All I can say is, as frustrating and annoying as it all may seem at times, enjoy it. One day it will all be gone…)

In no particular order… the things I miss…

10. Noise - It is too darn quiet.  And blasting music does not fill the void of kid noise. It is not the same. When you feel that headache coming on because the kids have been banging toys and making noise all afternoon, smile instead and enjoy it.  One day soon it will be way too quiet.

9. Fighting – If you have more than one child then you know well the natural and irrational wrath of siblings.  The more inane the reason, the bigger the battle.  As my kids have gotten older, miraculously, rather than argue and fight, they have begun to support each other in mature and logical ways. Shocking!

8. Interruptions – Without toddlers waddling down the halls and leaping on laps… without tweens talking incessantly and asking questions… without kid being kids… I am left with nothing but my own powers of procrastination to stop me from getting things done on the weekend…

7. The Human ATM – Sure, I still give my kids an allowance, automated to be credited to their Visabuxx cards, but aside from that, they hardly ever hit me up for the random $5, $10, or $20, like they used to before they had their own incomes.  Now, when I go to the cash machine and load my wallet with some bills, they generally stay there until I actually spend it myself…  Bizarre!

6. Being A Chauffeur – Unless you live downtown in a major city, you probably feel you spend an inordinate amount of time (and gas) driving your kids around. Driving them to school, driving them to sports, dance class, friend’s houses, parties, doctor and dentist appointments, the mall, the movies, miles and miles as a parental taxi service.  Rest assured, one day they will obtain driver’s licenses, and access to vehicles, and suddenly you will trade in being fed up driving for being fearful of their driving

5. Being A Cook – All my kids know how to cook, one of them is a professional.  Long gone are the days when I had to be concerned with making dinner for the kids.  With everyone on different schedules, between work, and work and school, rare is the night when we are all home for dinner at the same time, and everyone now more or less cooks for themselves…  I don’t miss the cooking for all as much as I miss the dinners together.

4. Homework Helper – I still occasionally get asked to advise or help with a homework assignment, but not too often.  The good news is that I am much better at helping with college level tasks than I ever was with things as complicated as high school algebra.  Hmmm, maybe I don’t actually miss being a homework helper…

3. Enforcing Rules – When your kids are young you can have all sorts of rules.  Bedtime, TV time, Computer time, Homework time, etc.  Once your kids become adults, real rules become few and far between.  After all, once they are in their 20′s, they are more or less subject to the same rules we as are… Curfew? Gesundheit!

2. Making Plans – I can remember when weekends revolved around planning activities to occupy and entertain the kids.  Movies, bowling, museums, an afternoon at the skate park, somehow or another we always had to have “plans.”  Then one day it all changes. Your kids still have plans every weekend… they just don’t include you anymore…

1. Finding a baby sitter – I can still remember the days when we could not leave the house without bringing the kids, or arranging for someone to watch the kids.  Then one day, the kids were simply old enough to watch themselves. You may not believe it is possible, but it will happen.

I present this list with bittersweet emotions.  Of course I am so very proud of my kids, and the mature, grounded, reasonably self-sufficient young adults they have become. And, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the “me” time their budding independence has facilitated.  However, I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that a part of me sorely misses the weekends when they needed me more…

What about you? How many of the ten things above are you still enjoying?

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.??

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pink and Blue Tasks

I’ve been reading this great book, a real-life love story called The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse. It’s the story of a now-married couple, the journey it took them to get there and the adventure of abandoning their lives for a 17,000 mile sail around the Pacific Ocean in a leaky boat. I’m an avid sailor (been doing it since I was a young child) but the book’s draw isn’t the nautical context. It’s the one man, one woman, partner story that defines the everyday life of a working marriage in some of the most extreme and certainly stressful conditions that I have found appealing.

There’s a chapter that talks about the tasks that Janna and her husband Graeme have to tackle on the boat that introduces the concept of “Pink and Blue” tasks. Janna goes on to write:

“Ask any cruiser out there about these two colors and they’ll tell you what you already guessed: women do Pink tasks (cooking, cleaning, laundry and seeing) and Men do Blue tasks (electronics, mechanics, installing, fixing).”

So being a sailor, and my wife being my first mate whenever we’re out on a boat together, I brought the idea up to her, not only about life on the boat but also, for us, off it. We’ve been married more than 10 years and from my POV, we most certainly have Pink and Blue tasks in our lives. It’s just how it’s worked out. She’s never mowed the lawn, I think I once took our child to the pediatrician without her. She’s never climbed the ladder into the attic to change the furnace filter and you can count on one hand the number of days in the past year I picked up the dry cleaning. It’s not intentional. It’s not something we ever discussed or planned. It just is. We have Pink and Blue tasks in our lives every day, and the Blue tasks are often tied to when mechanical things break in the house. When that happens, I fix them, not my wife. Always.

And this, she said, was very chauvinistic. She was overtly offended and told me in no uncertain terms that we did not have Pink and Blue tasks. If I wanted her to mow the lawn, I should just ask her. If I would show her how things around the house worked, she’d help with them.

So last week, after returning from a day-long business trip to St. Louis, walking up the driveway just after 9 p.m. (after leaving the house at 5 a.m.), our daughter comes running out into the snow, in 20 degree weather without a jacket, yelling “Mommy needs your help…the dishwasher is leaking.”

Sure enough, the kitchen floor is filled with water-soaked towels, a mop and a pail as water pours out of the corners of the dishwasher.

And it’s at this point my wife concedes. “I apologize. You’re right. I’m wrong. There are Pink and Blue tasks. Please help with this blue task and fix the dishwasher and get the leaking to stop.”

And so I did. It took a bit to diagnose the issue, but I wiped all the extra gunk out from beneath the seal where the door meets the dishwasher floor and all was right again with the world. No more leak.

How does it work in your homes dads (and moms)? Do you have Pink and Blue tasks in your lives or is your partnership evenly blended into a light shade of purple?

Nazi Zombies, Mudballs, and Why I Am Afraid I Am Screwing My Kids Up

The other day one of my kids ran in the house after school and made a bee-line to his room.  In a matter of minutes the XBox360 was online and he was fragging (ask your kids, they know what it means) his buddies and trash talking (using his wireless voice-over-ip headset) his way through a World War II maze of Nazi zombies.  A few days later my other son who is also a zombie killing XBox360 aficionado did the same thing with his buddies.

That in and of itself isn’t that remarkable, I mean, I just described half of American teenage boys, right?  But what was interesting to me was that in both cases my sons had just left the company of their friends.  To be more specific, they were having more fun with their friends not being there than if they were there.  Are you getting this?  They were together with their friends, but then decided that playing games online with said friends was better.  This is so far removed from the vivid memories of my childhood years that it is stark in contrast.  Let me explain…

I was pretty much your average middle-class, subdivision-living, kid back in the 70s and 80s.  The neighborhood kids would all hang out in someone’s yard, or tromp through the woods (as much as you could call it woods) in the backyard and our moms would have to holler out the back door when it was time to come home to eat dinner.  And many times we would pretend not to hear mom because of course we had more important things to do like climb trees and generally wreak havoc with the neighborhood girls.  My kids don’t have any memories like that.  None.

Now, this is not to say that my childhood was the iconic dream world that every kid should have the privilege of enjoying, or that somehow my kids have been permanently harmed because of this fact.  I remember my first gaming systems (can you say Atari 2600??) and the joy I found in technology that captured my imagination as a kid, and still does today.  I ‘get’ the whole gaming thing, still enjoy a game or two when I can find the time, and in truth at times am jealous of those gorgeous, immersive gaming experiences that my kids utterly enjoy daily.  And if I could get away with it (and not get grief from my wife), I just might join them in their nazi-fragging bliss.  But now that I have the benefit of endless streams of wisdom because of my vast years of experience as a man and a father, I am a bit concerned.

You see, I am afraid that my kids aren’t going to know how to do lots of things. I learned how to manage my time for maximum playtime and enjoyment before mom hollered.  I learned teamwork.  I learned how to make forts out of tree branches and the art of making the perfect mudball. (Skills that obviously serve me well in my career today, right?) I developed a respect for nature and my surroundings.  I learned how to make my own fun even when I didn’t have many things to have fun with.  And I learned endless life lessons from the arguing, fighting, reconciling, negotiating, sharing, and secrets that I shared with my buddies.

(L-R) Carlie, Harrison, Evan, and ColeMaybe I am just jaded, or maybe I am slowly turning into a grumpy old man.  But I am fearful that in my quest to give my kids the ‘things’ that they desire and that all their friends have, that I am doing them harm.  I fear that my kids are going to grow up into adults that don’t know how to interact with co-workers, family members, and neighbors.  Kids who won’t appreciate nature and the sheer joy that comes from climbing a tree and getting sap all over your hands.  But I think I figured it out.

Tomorrow I am gonna take the XBox away, give them each a stick and force them to go outside and play in the woods.  Better yet, I’ll go with them and show them how to make a mudball and throw it at girls.  Yeah, that will fix everything.  Or maybe I’ll just kill some nazi zombies with them.  That sounds more fun anyway.

Shattered Dreams, And Hope For The Future…

As parents, as Americans, as humans, it is difficult not to have been affected by the tragic and senseless violence in Arizona one week ago today.  While the target of the horrific attack may have been a politician, all indications are that this was not an act of political unrest, but rather the appalling and inexplicable brutality of a twisted and mentally disturbed mind.  Sadly, the lives of the innocent were brutally taken, including one sweet nine year old girl, Christina Taylor Green.  As you have surely seen reported, the young budding politician had recently been elected her class president, and was born on another tragic day, September 11, 2001.  She seems like she was the perfect little girl, as all our daughters are, especially at that wonderful age of innocence and wonder. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and loss experienced by her family, and the families of the others killed and injured.  I can only feel sadness as I embrace my own children and shudder within at the thought of such possibilities in our lives.

The President spoke emotionally at a memorial service in Arizona, and First Lady Michelle Obama released a statement that hits home from a parent’s perspective… here is an excerpt of her thoughts for parents:

“As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard.  It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones.  It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter.  And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well.  The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers.  But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.

We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis.  And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.

We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us.  We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.

We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families.  We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.”

I worry about my children and their safety every day, as I know you do too.  Families in Arizona have been unexpectedly faced with every family’s dreaded nightmare.  My heart goes out to the family and friends of  Christina Taylor Green, Representative Gabrielle Giffords and everyone whose lives were affected by the horrendous shootings last week.

In the midst of the sad aftermath of this event, my friend CC Chapman pointed me to the video below of another inspiring young girl, 8 year old Elizabeth Hughes, singing the National Anthem at a Norfolk Admirals game, just the day before the Arizona shootings.  Her voice is as pure, proud and unwavering as one can imagine Christina Taylor Green’s would have been had she been given the opportunity to speak with Representative Giffords as she had hoped to.  As a talented young singer, Elizabeth Hughes is inspiring to watch and hear… and when her microphone fails the crowd pitches in, reminding us that the words of our anthem still ring true, and that, as Americans, we can and will support each other no matter what.

A good thing to remember as we honor and memorialize those we have lost too soon…

Photo Credit: © Keith Hughes – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

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.??

Enhanced by Zemanta

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

Holiday Media Projects

In this short video, I share a few project ideas on what you can do to make media around the holidays:

What say you?

Time to Change a Thanksgiving Tradition

An open letter to Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL:

Dear Roger:

NFL LogoWe’ve never met…but you’re welcome to stop by to say hello at any of the Chicago Bears home games.  You’ll find me in the stats booth (always warm, dry and comfortable) on level A at Soldier Field, one door north of the main press box.

I’ve seen that lately you’re highly interested in changing the game for the better.  It’s great that you’re focusing on these head-to-head hits that are generating so much buzz and attention.  But really, there’s something far more urgent and pressing that needs your attention.

Detroit Lions LogoToday, on Thanksgiving, Americans will gather with their family and relive traditions established years ago.  Grandma’s pumpkin pie. Mom’s irresistible stuffing.  And a pair of football games during the day featuring two last place teams that, because it’s tradition, MUST play today.

I’m of course talking about the last place Detroit Lions and last place Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys LogoRoger, it’s time to change this Thanksgiving tradition.  Isn’t it time, in a day and age where the NFL wants as many people to tune into the games as possible on this day, days when fathers might be more likely to help in the kitchen than watch the Lions host Tom Brady and the Patriots or the Cowboys host Drew Brees the Saints?  Neither the Lions (31st) nor the Cowboys (29th) can run the ball this year and together, they’re a combined 5-15.  And they play on Thanksgiving afternoon because that’s the way it’s always been.

I’d like to propose that the NFL take another look at that day…as closely as it looks to flexing games from 1 ET to 4:15 ET to get better ratings…or from the afternoon to Sunday night for the same purpose.

Put teams on the field in games that matter.  To the NFL.  To the teams and their fans.  Families across America deserve it.

If You Can Read This… Be Thankful!

If you awaken to a house full of noisy kids… be thankful.
If you are tired because you spent half the night feeding and rocking an infant to sleep… be thankful.
If you are late for work because you walked your son or daughter to the bus stop and the bus never showed… be thankful.
If you are frustrated because you really don’t know how to do the math to help your kid with the homework… be thankful.
If you had to change your outfit twice in a day because of spittle and spills… be thankful.
If you worry about money because school costs so damn much… be thankful.
If you have no time for yourself (but make time for your kids)… be thankful.
If you can collapse a stroller easily with one hand… be thankful.
If you read more nursery rhymes than novels lately… be thankful.
If you know the smell of a baby’s head… be thankful.
If you cry because your child cries… be thankful.
If you worry your kid will get hurt every time they are not in your sight… be thankful.
If you have ever been grossed out by things you never dreamed could be pooped out of a tiny butt… be thankful.
If you angrily left work early to attend a parent-teacher conference… be thankful.
If you caught yourself cursing or acting badly in front of your kids… be thankful.
If you have ever lost your temper and yelled like a banshee, scaring your child and yourself… be thankful.
If you are uplifted simply by the smile of your son or daughter… be thankful.
If hearing “I love you Daddy” has turned an awful day into the best day ever… be thankful.
If there’s a little person in the world who wants to be just like you when they grow up… be thankful.
If you have been embarrassed in public by your child in the midst of a kicking, screaming irrational tantrum… be thankful.
If you know the joy of watching your kid do anything for the very first time… be thankful.
If you have spent an entire weekend sweating with frustration while assembling a swing set… be thankful.
If you have ever canceled something you were really looking forward to because your little one was sick… be thankful.
If you ache with love for your child in ways that words simply cannot do justice… be thankful.
If you have ever swapped a tooth under the pillow for some money… be thankful.
If you have ever sat, bored out of your mind, through tedious school productions… be thankful.
If you have ever braced yourself in the passenger seat as your teenager gets behind the wheel… be thankful.
If you tell your kid “yes you can!” even when you are not so sure… be thankful.
If you want more for your kids than you ever dreamed of for yourself… be thankful.
If you know how to change a diaper… be thankful.
If “crib” means more to you than a celebrity’s house… be thankful.
If you find yourself bragging shamelessly about your child’s accomplishment… be thankful.

If you are a parent… be thankful.

It is so easy to forget how truly fortunate we are, and how so many of the things that really matter, we already have.

If you can read this… be thankful.

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: © 2Dot – Fotolia.com

Related Post: Ten Reasons To Be Thankful For Your Kids At Thanksgiving

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Professions Every Parent Needs To Add To Their Resume

As a parent, arguably your number one job is to be a parent. In reality, being a parent is simply not enough.  As we raise our kids from infancy to the insanity that is adulthood, we must hold many jobs on the side to make ends meet (and meet the endless needs of our kids).  In addition to being a dad or mom, we may have another “day job” - preferably one that generates some sort of income.  However, there are also some professional roles every parent finds themselves taking at one time or another during their time as a professional parent.  For example, here are:

5 Professions Every Parent Needs To Add To Their Resume

1) Limousine Driver – Once your kids start school and their budding social lives begin, it is time to don a dark jacket and fancy cap because you will be spending the next 10 – 12 years driving.  Driving to play-dates, driving to lessons, driving to school, driving to doctors and dentists, driving your self nuts with driving.  You might as well invest in a nice cap and look the part of a pro.  Get used to waiting on endless “parent pick up lines” and learn how to tune out the whining and wailing (and later on, inane conversations) that will be carried on by your passengers, oblivious to your very existence.  You are just the driver, after all…

2) Actor/Actress – Shakespeare had it right. All your world is a stage, and you had better be prepared to perform for your kids at any given moment.  You must be as well trained as a student of Stanislavski, ready to delve into any character with method and purpose.  Your audience kids will always expect a bravura performance and you will have to play many roles, from serious to silly.  Be prepared to sing and dance too, and while most actors love a standing ovation at the curtain call, you will more likely take satisfaction from the laughter and smiles your performance results in.  You may not win an Oscar, but you will win the love and attention of some lifelong fans.

3) Motivational Speaker – You must be able to invoke your inner Tony Robbins and inspire your kids with boldly spoken words of wisdom and enthusiasm.  Like the best of the inspirational speakers you will need to stand and deliver the perfect inspirational words to raise your kids up when they are down… to move them to move… to encourage them to overcome every obstacle. YES, they can! You did it, and so can they! Go, kids go!

4) Romance Advice Expert – Forget Dear Abby. You are Dear Daddy (or Dear Mommy).  As soon as your kids get old enough to discover that some of their friends have different “privates” than they do, the real fun begins.  From the dreaded talk about the birds and the bees, to the painful process of repairing a broken heart, you need to be well-prepared to sooth the pangs of puppy love, kid crushes and all sorts of matters of the heart.

5) Financial Advisor – It starts with small change and then a larger allowance, but it doesn’t stop there.  As your kids grow into teens and then adults themselves they will look to you for guidance when it comes to money matters.  You may not be Charles Schwab, but you need to be prepared to teach your kids the basics, from bank accounts to debit and credit cards, to taking stock in stocks, to the ins and outs of rent, mortgages and car loans.  It is up to you to interest them in interest and save them from missing out on the pride and power of having some savings.

These are just a few of the jobs we have as parents and I know I am leaving out some obvious ones.  Which of these jobs have you already added to your resume?  What professions of parenthood am I missing?  Please add them in the comments.

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: © Tom Mc Nemar – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Literacy Comes in Many Packages

I received a curious jar of things from my friend, Jason Falls, on behalf of Wonderopolis.org. It’s a site about literacy and how we can help kids learn more. You’ve gotta see what came out of the bucket (this video runs about 4 minutes long):

The site, Wonderopolis had a lot of ways to get kids into reading. Here’s a bit from their about page:

Visit Wonderopolis.™ It’s a place where parents seek and nurture a brighter world for their children through the power of discovery, creativity, learning and imagination. Wonderopolis™ is brought to life by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL).

You see your children not only for who they are but for all they can become, yet you may need a little help directing that passion and igniting that wonder. We can help you get there — together. You don’t have to travel far. Wonderopolis is a special place found in a curious question, an everyday adventure and right in your own home. Just let wonderment be your guide.

Our Wonders of the Day will help you find learning moments in everyday life, ones that fit in with dinner preparations or carpool responsibilities or a stolen moment between breakfast and the bus.

It’s a great project and got me thinking of new ways to get my kids into reading even more than we’re doing now. What do you think?

Building Your Daughter’s Self-Esteem

confident girlsOur oldest daughter, now 7, asked me a question recently that set me back on my heels. “What’s special about me?”  It took me by surprise because she has always been a confident, outgoing kid.  The thing about this simple question that made me pause was that she wasn’t fishing for a compliment, she really meant it.  She was having a momentary crisis of self-confidence and she was looking to me for help.  When she asked it,  I heard s a little voice in my head say, “Be careful dad, don’t screw this one up.  Moments like this is where strippers come from.”

When it comes to raising my daughters, I feel a lot like the classic Chris Rock bit where he talks about his one job as a father being to keep his daughter off the dance pole.  As funny as that bit is, there is a lot of truth there.  As dads, we have a huge impact on the way our daughters feel about themselves, and men.  Like Chris Rock says, “They don’t grade fathers, but if your daughter’s a stripper, you [screwed] up.”

So when my daughter asked me to tell her what made her special, I knew not to take it lightly.  It’s not like it was hard to think of an answer.  I’m her dad, and coming up with things that make my daughter special was like trying to find something to watch on TV on a Sunday afternoon.  Sort of a no brainer.  Since then, I have been thinking a lot about my little girl’s self-esteem.

I guess she’s just at that age when the self-esteem starts to drop off, on the way to adolescence when I’m sure it will hit it’s all time low.   Good times.  So I’m no psychologist, but here are my tips for boosting your daughter’s self-esteem.  You don’t have to pay any attention, but if your daughter starts wearing clear heels and changes her name to her birth stone, don’t come crying to me.

So here are 5 things I am doing to help build up my daughter’s self esteem:

Give her your undivided attention

When you talk to your kids, put down the iPhone or Blackberry, and look ‘em in the eye.  I’m as guilty of this one as anyone, but multitasking can send the wrong message.  When your kid asks you a question let them know they are important by stopping, looking them in they eye, and talking to them.  Sure it’s not realistic to do this every time, but more often than not, give them the respect you expect back.  You know how you feel when she won’t look up from the TV to answer you? It’s like that for her too.

Give her compliments

A few time a day, be sure to compliment her on something.  Now don’t be the dad that goes around praising every little thing she does.  Nobody likes that guy.  But a little deserved praise goes a long way.   Try not to make everything about how she looks either.  Sure you want to tell her she looks pretty, but you also have to let her know she’s smart, and nice, and funny.  We all know girls who grew up only hearing how pretty they were.  We don’t want want our daughters to be those girls.

Watch what you say about yourself

This one goes for the moms and dads.  If your daughter hears you saying how fat you think you are, or how dumb, it’s going to effect her internal dialog as well.  Our kids model our behavior especially at a young age, so show her a confident parent.  Keep your hangups about yourself to yourself.

Encourage her

We all want to protect our kids from disappointment, but sometimes we can go overboard.  I think it’s better to fail than not to try, and I let my daughter’s know that.  When they do fail, and they will, you need to bring out your best glass half-full stuff.  So don’t say that she probably won’t make the team to try to soften the blow if she doesn’t.  Encourage her to push herself and let her know that she will fail sometimes, but the only way to find out what you’re good at is to try lots of things.

Be the model you want her to see

Be careful about the signals you send to your daughter about women, because she’s going to notice what you say and think.  Let her know you respect women because they are smart or talented.  Make sure she hears you talking about her mom and other women in a respectful way.  The way your daughter hears you talk about women will impact how she will let others talk to her.

So there are 5 things I’m doing to try to help boost my daughter’s self-esteem.  I’m no Dr. Phil, but I’m going to do everything I can to raise a confident, strong daughter.  She’s lucky to have such a good role model in her mom, but I’m going to try to do my part as well.  What do you think?  Let me know or add your tips in the comments.

Ian is the father of two young daughters  (7, and 2).  He has a podcast about starting a business while raising young children at Startup Daddy.

Photo By Pink Sherbet Photography

Life360 Offers a Mobile Panic Button for Your Kids

Here’s an interesting new solution called Life360 whose slogan is “Your child’s safety comes first”. They offer several tools for protecting your family. The most compelling being the emergency alert system called Family GPS Tracking that instantly notifies other family members the moment you find yourself in trouble. You can get the app for iPhone or Android mobile devices or even a small GPS device for your children ($100 + $10/month).

Another product is the sex offender location monitor. It’s something we’ve seen before for free online and with apps but this one does a bit more than just display a whole bunch of scary dots around your neighborhood. It might not be for everyone but for those who can stomach this unsettling information, Life360 will even send you email alerts whenever there are updates for locale offenders.

I like the emergency messenger tool which ensures a method of communication among family members. This can come in handy when your loved ones need you the most. The Emergency ID card also seems like a useful product as it can contain important information for each family member such as medical allergies, address, contact phone numbers, and more.

For how and why Life360 came into existence, here’s an interview of its CEO Chris by Jason Calacanis on This Week in Startups #93.

The Man (Dad) In The Mirror

Lately I have been reflecting on reflections, literally and figuratively.  Perhaps it is the melancholy that I normally associate with the fast approaching Holiday Season, or maybe it is symptomatic of simply aging, and watching my kids grow.  It seems I notice mirrors and reflections at every turn these days, from the literal mirror mirror hanging on the wall, to the mirrored reflection I see of myself off the glare of the screen of my computer, phone or iPad.  Sometimes I am shocked and surprised by the reflections I see, because at first it is not me I see, but my own Dad.  I have to do a “double take” to realize it is me, and that yes, I must be starting to resemble my father that much. Mind you, I love and admire my Dad, so this is not a bad thing, just, in that fleeting moment of recognition, the similarities are surprising, if not startling.

Kids Are Mirrors Too

I also see reflections of myself in my children, in both the things they say and do, and ways they say and do them.  This too, at times, can be surprising.  Even though intellectually we know that we leave our imprint on our kids, both genetically and otherwise, now that my “kids” are really “young adults” in their own right, the traits they have adopted from their parents seem more pronounced as our mutually adult experiences become more closely aligned.  Work and study habits and ethic… Sense of humor (corny jokes and puns included)…  Even some less desirable traits seem to be constant reminders of the oft stated adage, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…”  This is a phrase I share with my offspring often, most recently in a post to my daughter’s Facebook wall the other day in response to her status update declaring, “Once again procrastination has gotten the best of me…”  I had to laugh as, though much improved from my younger days, I still might qualify as a professional procrastinator myself.

Of course, if procrastination is the worst trait to fall off this tree I have quite a lot to be thankful for (and I do).  For the most part, I am really happy with the reflections of my parents that I see in me, and the fruits of me and their mom that I see reflected in my kids.

How about you?  What are the reflections you see in your family? Are you surprised by them?

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: © Clara Dinand – Fotolia.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

If your child likes video games …

… then you MUST see if there is a GameTruck franchise serving your market.

I showed my eight-year-old the video below and he went nuts. “How many days until my birthday?!” he exclaimed.

I met the “GameTruck guy” at a networking event and became friendly with him. [Disclosure: I helped him with marketing ideas so he let me bring Zachary and Lucas over for free.] Of course, it was almost impossible to get them out of the truck.

Here’s 8yo Zach (only 88 more days until his birthday!), telling you about his GameTruck experience:

It was great. It had, like, all these video games! There’s all these posters of them and there were, like, four 55-inch TVs with … it was just really great … I just didn’t want to get out.

There were some Rock Bands, some Super Mario games, Super Smash Brothers, um, there was some driving games (which I beat you and mom in!), and Lucas would not get off the drum set. He would just bang on whatever he wanted (my six-year-old brother, that is).

Everybody was just together, so when you had one game you wanted to play, you know you had more than one person to do it with.

Personally, I love this concept because if I have to go to one more Pump It Up or Chuck E. Cheese party I am going to scream! The Truck shows up at your house, the kids pile in, and they have a “Game Coach” to supervise the kids, promote fair play, and show them how to play the games. Our job, as parents, is to send 16 kids into the Truck for two hours and sit inside, have a drink and adult conversations. We don’t have to worry if they are safe / if somebody wandered off, etc.

Cool, huh? You can find out more at http://GameTruckParty.com. The Seattle guy runs promos on his Facebook fan page. Leave a comment and tell me what you think of the concept.

:: Joe Hage ::

Other posts from Joe Hage
Tweet your Kids, Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five
Dad’s Life Lessons: Rule #1, Rule #2, Rule #3
Behold the Marshmallow
Dermott

Behold the marshmallow

My (almost) nine-year-old Zachary was terribly frustrated doing his homework a few weeks back.

“I’m so mad! I just want to throw something!”

Choices

Now, think. As a parent, what do you say to that?

  • It’s ok, honey.
  • Calm down. Let’s see what’s the problem?
  • Zach, you’re over-reacting! Can you just do your homework quietly?

Marshmallows

My fantastic wife Beth had a different solution:  Zach was mad. He wanted to throw something. And so we let him.

Beth went to the cupboard and took out a bag of marshmallows. “Here,” she said, “Throw this.”

You should have seen Zachary light up and it put his temporary setback in perspective – a perspective he gained on his own, without any hectoring from us. “Really?! I can throw this?!” Soon after, his rage gave way to laughter and a loving “marshmallow fight” with mom.

The fact that he got to eat the projectile afterward didn’t hurt either.

Long-term effects

I picked up Zach from school the other day. His friend Joseph was coming over for a play date and Michael overheard. “You’re going to Zachary’s house?! You’re lucky. You get to have marshmallow fights!”

Now, that’s a happy ending.

Have any “my child is so mad and this is what I did” stories to share?

Good luck from a fellow dad,

:: Joe Hage ::

Other posts from Joe Hage: Dad’s Life Lessons: Rule #1

Mom and Dad on Strike

Emploment Opprotunities

Dad’s Life Lessons on the Wall

Chris Cuomo’s Special on Bullying

Our own Chris Cuomo just did a very important special on 20/20 about bullying called “Bullied to Death in America’s Schools“. It was a powerful piece about the escalating number of tragedies caused by bullying. Far too many good kids are tortured by bullies and too many are taking their own lives. The special also covers the frustrations that many parents are experiencing as they try to get someone from school to help them protect their children. Far too many school officials just turn a blind eye towards this epidemic of bullying, citing they are doing everything they can to help and that there isn’t much of a problem at their school.

The special showcased a few heart-breaking stories from parents that lost their child as a result of constant torture from bullies at school and online. Two boys hung themselves after having their spirits crushed over the course of time with senseless and cruel personal attacks. The parents are left devastated wondering what else they could have done to save their precious child. They shared their experiences of talking to school officials who all said the same thing, how they couldn’t do anything about. How they could not patrol the hallways, bathrooms and school grounds.

Here are a view videos from Chris Cuomo and 20/20 on this important subject matter. Please watch them with your kids whether or not they’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with bullies. They might be able to help those they know that are being abused. Please also share this information with other parents, teachers, lawmakers, congressmen, etc.

20/20 videos from Cuomo on the Case

3 Must-See short films about the impact of Bullying

  • Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) Safe@School campain (Two must-see short films, “Taking Bullying Seriously” & “Hear Me Out”
  • The Bully Project is a moving film about the pain of bullying
  • The Bully Project Promo from Lee Hirsch on Vimeo.

    More Resources to Prevent Bullying

    Protecting Our Precious Angels

    Angelo, Fiera Antiquaria Arezzo

    The topic of bullying has always been important to me. I’ve seen the pain and anguish caused by bullying my whole life. Fortunately for me, I grew tall early in life so I avoided the torture of being the victim of most bullies but I still witnessed too many friends get picked on for years. I did get involved in many fights with bullies because I tried to help my friends.

    Anyway, bullying seems to be getting worse these days thanks to social networks like facebook and twitter where bullies spread vicious rumors and embarrassing photos and videos with a massive audience. These ugly personal attacks spread like wildfire now. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of young people are driven to suicide sooner than ever because of the viral nature of these taughts and attacks. Here’s a clip of talk show host Ellen Degeneres addressing a recent news item involving a teenage boy who killed himself when a video was made of him with another boy and shared with many others.

     

    No one is helping these kids. Ok, that might be untrue. There are many of us out there trying to help our kids but obviously not near enough of us. All parents, teachers, schools, coaches, and all adults involved with taking care of our children need to work together to help all children no matter what age. This means from pre-K to grade school and even all the way to college.

    Here’s another sad news item that broke my heart and also infuriated me. 4 bullied teens from same Ohio school driven to suicide! This isn’t an isolated incident that has only impacted this school or even that community. This is an across the board  epidemic that continues to grow out of control. We need to get more involved with our own kids first and foremost. If they aren’t being bullied or abused in a relationship, then we must find out if they are the bullies or the abusers. Yes, it is a scary thought to think our own child could be the bad guy but every bully and abuser is someone’s child. If our children are neither, then they might be a witness to these attacks and they must step forward to be a part of the solution. If they don’t, then they will continue to be a part of the problem. Silence is the same as aiding and abating, thus making them an accomplice to these vicious actions. Our silence and inaction makes us accessories as well.

    Call to Action

    What can we do? I know we work or we’re swamped with endless activities with the house and activities for the kids, but we must get more involved. We must communicate even more not only with our kids but also their teachers and their coaches and other parents. We need to keep one another informed of any warning signs so we can do something when there’s still time to help.

    Free Tools

    It’s ironic that the same technology and networks that have made bullying worse can also help fight it. There are websites and applications that can help us and our kids find answers and help when they’re faced with a bully or abusive partner. One of them is from MTV called “A Thin Line” which is located at: http://www.athinline.org.  They also have a free iPhone app.

    Creative Commons License photo credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin

    Parental Guidance

    Astro Boy I’m watching the recent movie adaptation of Astro Boy, a year or so after my daughter watched it. There are so many emotional upheavals and elements I probably didn’t want my daughter to see without some conversation. She’s a smart kid, but this movie is all about rejection. There’s tons and tons of situations of emotional discomfort that I don’t consider to be appropriate for an 8-year-old.

    How did I miss this? First, the trailer. There’s nothing in the trailer that shows that the entire movie will be about a robot imbued with a child’s emotions forced to deal with rejection over and over. There’s nothing in the trailer that says it’s a giant movie about fitting in clad with robots.

    Second, there’s the series. The series wasn’t like this. We (who grew up watching it) know it to be fun and peppy and full of great little adventures. The filmmakers took elements to make the new movie, but opted to imbue it with huge emotional conflicts and make a real adult-scale film.

    Parental Guidance

    Growing up, I did everything I could to get around ratings. I convinced my folks to let me see Jaws at a very young age. I did that kind of thing a lot. I pushed the boundaries of what was okay to see. I also got them desensitized to letting me see violent films. I want to talk about that for a moment.

    Parents seem to worry about violence in movies more than any other element. Well, okay, sex comes first. If you see a topless woman, this is somehow far worse than bullets in the brainpan. But is that really the most scarring thing a child is going to absorb? I say no. I say that heavy emotional issues are far worse than a few guns or boobies.

    As parents, it’s up to us to decide what is going to be okay for our child. It’s up to us to watch first, to know what we’re getting them into. And I missed it with this movie. I made assumptions based on the trailer, and I’m really sorry that I did.

    Aftermath

    My daughter never said much about the movie. She didn’t say that she disliked it. She didn’t say that she found it disturbing. She just didn’t have much use for it.

    In fact, the movie’s pretty interesting from an adult perspective. The visuals are great. The acting is good. There are some really salient points and some emotional moments. But it’s not right for my kid.

    Parental guidance is a lot trickier these days. The storyteller rules have changed. What we think kids want in a kid’s movie has changed. And animation, as you probably know, rarely means “children’s movie” these days.

    Keep your eyes open, and dig deep. It’s amazing what one can find.

    When the Kid’s Come To Work

    Over the summer, in particular, I bring my kids down to my office with me fairly regularly. This past summer, my college student daughter, Stephanie, worked here as an intern, so I always had family close at hand, but the real fun is when my younger daughter, Katie, crashes the party.

    I’m smiling and remembering it all now because Katie is out of school today – they are fixing the gymnasium floor at her school – and she is in the office with me. She comes in like a tiny ray of sunshine, books and crayons in hand. She draws pictures for everyone in the office. She reads books, and colors on the white-boards. She has snacks (too much chocolate, but it’s only an occasional visit).

    Sometimes it’s fun to share your work experience with your family. I don’t think she knows what I do, other than that it involves computers and I spend a lot of time sitting behind a desk, but she knows the people here – and she feels at home. We draw together, and sometimes, we take pictures.

    There’s a set of google-eyed glasses that a number of employees have donned for pictures. Katie has now joined the crew…

    Stop Picking Up Their Clothes!

    Trust me, it’s hopeless.  Do you dread walking into your kid’s room?  Are you tired of picking up socks, clothes and toys off of the floor?  Do you beg and bribe your kids to clean their rooms?  Well, you might as well stop right now and save yourself years of stress and anxiety.  You can reduce your future botox bills by slowing down the onset of worry wrinkles and simply accepting the fact that your sweet little child, that adorable cutie who messes up the charming, cozy room you toiled over to decorate just for him or her, is just going to one day leave home to live in a pig sty (a pig sty you may well be paying good money for – in the form of college tuition!)

    Does A Higher Education Lead To A Lower Standard Of Living?

    We try to teach our kids well and do our best to prepare them for “the real world.” Well, if they are college bound there is a good chance that their real world will consist of cramped rooms overflowing with piles of dirty laundry and sinks full of dirtier dishes.  I was in Boston this week and had the pleasure of visiting my son the Berklee student for the first time since he has moved to Beantown.  It was wonderful to see him, I am enormously proud of him and I love him dearly, but if he and his roommates have any dreams of ever entertaining a young woman in their, er, “humble” abode, they might want to sign up for the Monastery now.

    Could It Be Hereditary?

    I’d like to think that I was much cleaner and more domesticated in my college years, but I wonder if that is just the rose colored lenses of my memory.  In any event, if you spend a lot of time picking up after your kids, take my advice and just stop.  Let them live like pigs now, and know that you will just be doing your duty to prepare them properly for college.

    What do you think?  Do you struggle with messy rooms, and if so, what ages are your kids?  What  kind of cleanliness inspection would your dorm room have passed?  Please air your dirty laundry in the comments!

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

    1000 Sleepless Nights

    sleepy dadA while back, I wrote 600 Days Without Solid Sleep.  Well after yet another night marked by a 2AM wake-up call, I thought I would run the numbers, and what do you know? A nice round 1000 days!  How could I not mark such an auspicious occasion? Pardon me if I appear a bit snarky, but I’m on my 3rd double espresso, and that can affect a man.

    Sleep is like the unicorn – it is rumored to exist, but I doubt I will see any – Anonymous

    Our youngest daughter has had “sleep issues” from day one.  Actually, she doesn’t seem to care.  It’s my wife and I that take issue with it.  People have all sorts of advice.  “Go in, but don’t speak.  Just comfort her and put her back to bed in silence.” In silence?! Are you kidding me?  Who are these kids that respond to this?  On what planet does this work?

    “Don’t go into her room, just let her cry.”  I never thought of that! Let her cry. Brilliant!  Besides, who is this helping?  Instead of not sleeping, you get to not sleep and listen to screaming.  You get to feel like Charles Manson, and as an added bonus, if you wait long enough, you get the older sister involved.  What’s better than being tired and cranky and dealing with a tired and cranky kid all day?  Being tired and cranky and dealing with two tired and cranky kids all day!  My wife gets those days a lot more than me.

    You know what you don’t want to tell someone who has a kid with sleep issues? “My kid didn’t sleep through the night until she was six.”  You remember in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, when Chekov has that eel put into his brain through his ear? Yeah, it’s a little like that.

    “There will be sleeping enough in the grave” – Benjamin Franklin.

    So my wife and I have learned a few things in these last 1000 days.  First and foremost, we’re never getting divorced.  If we can survive these last two and a half plus years, saying the things two kids in love say to each other at 3 in the morning over the screams of a wailing toddler,  then we’re pretty much good to go.

    Another thing?  Nobody truly knows anything about getting a kid to sleep.  Oh, they have theories. If you try a “technique” and that happens to be when your kid decides to start sleeping, a sleep expert is born!  That happens a few times in a row, and that expert becomes a best selling author.   For us, The No Cry Sleep Solution, was no solution.  The Happiest Baby on the Block, does not live at our house.  Well she hangs out during the day, actually.  But at night she tags out, and Bride of Chucky hops in the crib.

    The thing is, we really are truly blessed.  Tired and blessed.  Both of our kids are great kids.  Even little snooze alarm is the sweetest, happiest kid most of the time.  She’s quick with a hug, and easy to laugh.  She brings such joy to our lives that we couldn’t imagine life without her.  Of course lack of sleep has an effect on your imagination.

    People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one. -Leo J. Burke

    Photo Credit: mmagallan

    Ian is the father of two young daughters  (7, and 2).  He has a podcast about starting a business while raising young children at Startup Daddy.


    Cast of Dads #30: Stuffed Animals, Stuffed Mouths, and Other Stuff…

    Before I post a new episode of Cast of Dads I always listen to it, and even though I was “there” and part of the recording, I try to listen back to the finished show as a “listener” and experience it as I hope you will.  I have to say, this show, our 30th episode, had me smiling, laughing and almost crying as we touch on so many fun, interesting and challenging fatherhood topics and experiences.  I am extremely proud to be a cast member with this group of dads and men, who I now consider among my best of friends,  and I truly hope you are enjoying listening to Cast of Dads even half as much as we are enjoying creating the show.  If you are, please let us know.  We’d love to hear from you!

    You can LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 30 HERE.

    And here are some of the topics we discuss in this show:

    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, 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Loving the Little Moments

    I had just finished sending off a freshly completed picture book manuscript to an author friend for review and was feeling pretty good. The family was still sleeping, and I had the kitchen to myself. I was thinking of what project to begin next, when suddenly, the Elf came into the kitchen. It was a big day for her. She’d be taking off for California soon..

    Now that the Elf is 15, she’s starting to find things to do outside of the home. She has a job, has an internship as a photographer’s assistant, has schoolwork, and takes Irish Step-dancing lessons. She’s even taking the bus from school to her dance studio, so I’m not needed to drive her around anymore. Instead of enjoying her company over the holiday weekend, I’ll be waving good-bye to her as my mother takes her to California for a dance competition.

    Seeing her sleepy form shuffle around the kitchen, I knew I had to strike while I had a chance. I put my work aside and just started chatting with her. We talked about her trip, how excited her Nana was to be taking her to California, and even about a TV show I recently discovered that I thought she’d like. We also had a serious moment and talked about her spelling weaknesses, and I outlined three things we could work on next week to improve them. Overall, though, it was a light, friendly conversation.

    She gave me a hug and a smile, then went off for a run. I only had the few moments to be with her before she was gone again, but I’m not disappointed. I was there when she needed me to be. That makes me feel even better than finishing the book.

    Douglas Cootey is a married, full time dad raising four girls in the Salt Lake Valley who has long ago overcome his aversion to the color Pink. Douglas blogs about overcoming AD/HD & Depression with humor & pluck over at the award winning A Splintered Mind. He also recently finished writing ADDaboy! for HealthyPlace. The random thoughts of his addled mind can be found at DouglasCootey and SplinteredMind over on Twitter.

    A Father’s Nightmare

    A member of the Dad-O-Matic extended family has recently gone public with details of a situation that would be any parent’s worst nightmare – having your children suddenly taken away from you, and not being able to see or communicate with them for more than a year.  This has been the terrible situation Colin Bower has been up against since his ex-wife kidnapped his two young sons and illegally smuggled them out of the U.S. to her native Egypt.  After a year of keeping private and attempting to resolve matters through the system, Colin has now opened up about his heartfelt quest to regain communication with and custody of his beloved sons, Noor and Ramsay.  A Facebook page has been launched and Colin and his supporters have reached out to the media and the U.S. Government to spread the story and try to implore the Egyptian officials to enforce what the courts have already deemed proper, and give Colin access to his sons, and return them to their home in Boston.  The Facebook page gives many details about how we can all help, including an easy way to send an email message to the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  You can learn more of Colin’s plight in the interview below from his recent appearance on The Today Show:

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    As a father it is hard for me to find the words to describe, or the thoughts to imagine what Colin and his sons must be going through.  My heart goes out to him as do my wishes for a speedy and positive resolution and a happy reunion with his sons at their home in Boston.  Colin is not only a loving dad, but he works closely with Chris Brogan at New Marketing Labs.  I met Colin briefly at a conference before and he is a respected and trusted friend of many people in the Dad-O-Matic and Social Media circles.  Please lend your support to Colin in any way you can during this most difficult time…  And give your own kids a hug, knowing how very blessed you are.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Instant Popsicles

    Zoku Quick Pop MakerI’ve long been a fan of homemade ice cream.  Not homemade in the store…homemade in my home.  It’s really one of the easiest recipes to make…as long as you keep the ice cream maker in your freezer, you’re always ready to go.

    But what about something a bit lower in fat?  Say a popsicle?  Every kid loves to make popsicles…but as every kid also knows, it JUST TAKES SOOOO LONG.

    Enter the Zoku Quick Pop Maker.

    Now I’ll admit that in comparison to  the plastic molds available for just a few bucks at any grocery store (and sometimes less than that at any garage sale), at $50, this is a pretty hefty investment, but the thing works like a charm and you cannot put a price on instant gratification for your children.

    It has a base that you keep frozen, just like an ice cream maker.  You put the sticks in, pour in your flavor of choice and voila, in 10 minutes, you have 3 popsicles.  Do it again and in a bit longer than 10 minutes, you have 3 more (you can buy more sticks if you need more than six at a time).  For kids, they can sit there and actually watch the popsicles freeze, something you can’t of course do the conventional way unless your kids enjoy sitting in a walk-in freezer in a parka.  And as they start to freeze, you can use a straw to suck out the middle (which freezes last) and then fill the center with a different flavor juice (we’ve found great success with lemonade and limeade).

    They’re for sale at Williams-Sonoma if you want to keep summer going for a few more months!

    Disclosure: I bought this product without incentive using my own dollars, no freebie, no gift.  The review above is my own.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Book Review: Crazy For The Storm – A Memoir Of Survival

    Summertime is often a time we catch up on reading and this summer is no exception.  I finally sat down to read a book I purchased last summer, Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival (Amazon affiliate link) by Norman Ollestad.  This is a true story, but written with the depth, pace, and strong characterizations one would expect of a good novel.

    When Norman was 11 years old, the charter plane he was on with his Dad and Dad’s girlfriend crashed into a mountainside.  Norman was the only survivor.  As much as this is a story of survival, it is also an insightful look at fatherhood, and a very special relationship between a father and son.  Watch the video below for more.

    Book Review: Crazy For The Storm (for Dadomatic) from Jeffrey Sass on Vimeo.

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

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Don’t Wait For The Memorial…

    (Note: I originally posted this on my personal blog, but felt it was also relevant here on Dadomatic.  I hope you don’t mind the repetition if you are a visitor to both.)

    Last night I went to a Memorial Tribute arranged by a co-worker and friend whose father passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago.  I have been to my fair share of funerals, “Shiva” sittings, and memorials over the years, but I have never had the honor to experience one like this.  It was a true celebration of a life, and an evening filled with much more laughter than tears.  There were probably 400 people in attendance, and a heavy presence of both law enforcement professionals and leather clad bikers, two seemingly disparate communities, yet my friend’s dad was clearly beloved by both.

    A Story Well Told…

    One by one, dozens of family, friends, and former co-workers took to the podium to share very personal, emotional, and overwhelmingly funny stories of their experiences with, and love for, my friend’s father.  To say it was inspirational would be a gross understatement. I felt I was witnessing an incredibly special moment, driven by pure love for someone who clearly had been an incredibly special person.  While I never had the chance to meet my friend’s dad, hearing the stories and seeing the slideshow of so many captured moments, I could clearly see his spirit and influence in my friend, and even in my friend’s young son.  Yes, it was sad, but it was also very beautiful and filled with hope.

    Influence And Impact

    Clearly, my friend’s dad touched many lives, and lived his own life to the fullest. Trite as that may sound, from what I witnessed and learned, in this case it really is true.  It was wonderful to see how they celebrated him now that he is gone.  As I walked to my car after leaving, without hesitation I took out my phone and called my own parents, something I know I don’t do often enough.  Though I never met him while he was alive, meeting him now, through the stories told, and the shared experience of their telling, my friend’s father has indeed impacted my life too.

    There’s Always Room To Learn

    I think I learned many things last night, but the one thing I want to try harder to focus on is to celebrate life now.  I want to celebrate my life and all that I have to be grateful for, and I want to celebrate the lives of my children and my family and all the people that I love.  I don’t want to wait for the memorial.

    How about you?

    Photo Credit: © Sascha Burkard – Fotolia.com
    Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?
    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Cast of Dads #28: Stitches, Veggies and Scooping Poop

    In this episode of Cast of Dads one of the dads tells of a late night spill that ended with a trip to the ER and some stitches… which leads to a discussion of kids and injuries… which leads to me recalling the tale of my daughter and her missing finger tip… (you’ll have to listen to the show for the rest of that story!)  In the midst of all the gory talk we manage to give some heartfelt parenting advice, and even some tips on cooking as a family.  Once again we prove that five dads and thirteen kids equals a treasure trove of tales to tell.  Enjoy!

    CLICK  HERE TO LISTEN TO “CAST OF DADS” EPISODE 28

    Topics discussed in this episode:

    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, 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

    Photo Credit: © Eric Gevaert – Fotolia.com

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Cast of Dads #27: Same Old Spit…

    In the latest episode of Cast of Dads, we actually started the show with a couple of specific topics in mind: “Kewl Birthday Parties” and “the dangers of drowning.”  From happy to scary and everything in between we cover it all, and then some, in a show that combines serious parenting tips with a lot of goofy laughter.  A glitch in the phone system caused me to “hear voices” only on my end of the call, and one of the dads had a “live” parenting issue interrupt our recording for a little bit of unexpected drama.  In the end we learn that a pile of dirt just may be the best birthday party evah, and when it comes to multi-use liquids, spit wins hands down!  Enjoy!

    CLICK TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 27…

    A Blast From Sass' Party Favor Past: Toxic Crusader Action Figure!

    Topics discussed in this episode:

    • KEWL Birthday Parties
    • Beer always makes kids birthday parties easier
    • Reptile Man!
    • They have Rednecks in the Bronx?
    • Googling “Reptile Man Johnny”
    • Toxie Party Favors
    • Pile of Dirt = Party Time!
    • Flaming Unicycles
    • Co-op Bouncy Houses
    • Video Game Vans
    • Dangers of Drowning Article
    • Pool Safety
    • Don’t depend on public pool lifeguards
    • Pool Parties = Can’t relax and enjoy
    • Safety from weird colored bathing suits
    • When in doubt, pee on it
    • Dip Spit = best cure for stings
    • Dealing with cranky kids at bedtime
    • Live Parenting Failure
    • The voices in Sass’ head

    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, 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Checks And Balances: Is It OK For Your Kids To Be Tattle Tales?

    If you have more than one child at home do you find that they often “tattle” on each other? I have written about digital tattle tales before and on a recent trip to San Francisco I was thinking about it again, and how, in my case, counting on one or more of my kids to squeal on the other has become a defacto form of checks and balances when I am away from home.  I chat about this with one of my fellow “Cast of Dads” dads, Michael Sheehan from HighTechDad in the short video below.  Although I joke about the snitching being helpful to me, in retrospect I think the trust issue is more important and that I may be better off in the long run if I discourage my kids from being so loose with their lips (something about sinking ships…)  What do you think?

    What do you think about kids that throw their siblings under the bus?  Does having kids who tattle on each other help or hurt?  Should the behavior be welcome or discouraged?   Feel free to tattle about it in the comments!

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

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    A Most Awesome “Dad” Moment Courtesy of Old Spice

    Much is being written about the awesome and uber viral Old Spice campaign featuring former football player Isaiah Mustafa.  It turns out the “Old Spice Guy” is a dad, and, it seems a great dad at that. Check out this “call out” to his daughter as part of the interactive “real time” videos that Old Spice has been churning out at a miraculous pace. What a great way to work being a dad into your work! Kudos to Old Spice, the ad team at Wieden + Kennedy creating the spots, and of course, my vote for dad of the day, Isaiah Mustafa! Go Dads!

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

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    5 Tips For A Successful Summer Camp Visiting Day

    Are you enjoying some quiet time with your spouse while the kids are away at camp?  If so, you are also probably getting ready for the infamous “visiting day,” when parents invade the camp grounds to see what their offspring are really doing while off at Camp Cost-A-Lot.  Having been both a camper and a counselor in summers past (way past) and having sent my own kids to “sleep-away” before, I have seen the good, bad and ugly of all sides of “visiting day.”  With that in mind, here are…

    5 Tips For A Successful Summer Camp Visiting Day:

    1) Show Up! – From a counselor’s perspective, there is nothing sadder than the kid who is alone on visiting day.  And from the kid’s perspective, there is no greater heartache than the ache you feel when all your friends are with their family and you are not.  It may be your summer vacation too, and you may be spoiled by not having the kids around, but when you make your own summer plans make sure going to visiting day is first and foremost on your calendar.

    2) Bring Something For Each Bunk-mate! - Subject to the camp rules (there is usually a list sent to parents of “contraband” that they don’t want you to bring…) it is nice to bring a little something for each kid in your child’s bunk.  It can be simple and inexpensive, but it is a nice gesture that makes all the kids feel good, and has the added benefit of letting them know your kid has cool parents (something he or she will appreciate and be proud of after visiting day is over.)  Make sure you cover all the kids in the bunk, and not just your child’s best friends.  If you have brought other gifts for your kid, try to pass them along to him or her in private and not in front of the others.  Not every kid’s parents are as generous as you are and there is no point in creating jealousy.

    3) Defer To The Counselor and Camp Rules – You may be the parent, but during visiting day the Counselor is in charge, and your child is playing by camp rules, not your rules.  You are there to watch and share, not to take charge.  Respect the wishes of the Counselor and try not to interfere.  If something really bothers you and you really object to it, speak to the Counselor or Camp Director privately.  Don’t undermine the camp or Counselor in front of the kids.  It will not make the rest of the summer any easier for anyone.

    4) Participate (if asked) - Some Camps have all sorts of activities planned during Visiting Day and try to include parents in the events.  If your kid asks you to join the kickball or softball game you must, and you must do so eagerly.  Camp is a great place and time for you to let down your guard, get off your butt, and let your kid see you as you once were when you too were a kid.  Have fun!!!

    5) Make A Graceful Exit – Visiting Day can be the best day of the summer and the worst, especially for younger campers and sleep-away first timers.  While it is wonderful to see your folks, it can be heart-wrenching to say goodbye and watch them leave.  I still remember the awful feeling in my gut when my folks knocked on the cafeteria window and waved at me when I was 10.  It would have been much better if they hadn’t reminded me they were leaving and just departed quietly during lunch as the rest of the parents were instructed to do.  When my own son was a similar age we also had a terrible scene with his mom and him and lots of crying as we tried to leave his visiting day.  Smart camps have the parents depart when the kids are together as a group and engaged in an activity, so that saying goodbye is not an event the kids can focus on.

    These are just a few of the things I recall when thinking about Visiting Day.  How about you?  Do you agree with this list?  What other tips would you add to ensure a successful Camp visiting day?  I hope you enjoy yours!

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

    Photo Credit: © kathy libby – Fotolia.com

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Cast of Dads #26: Hot Fun In The Summertime…

    The heat was on for this week’s Cast of Dads show as the Northeast experienced record breaking (and air conditioning breaking) temperatures.  From the humidity to stupidity, we crack open some beer and wine and I cracked some of my usually corny jokes (well, you might not consider them jokes). I seemed to have had a problem with my microphone so I apologize for my tinny voice.  Luckily the other dads sound fine, and had more pithy things to say than me anyway.

    Emily & True 7-4-2010

    CC's Daughter Emily & Her New Friend...

    Topics discussed in this episode include:

    You can LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS #26 HERE!

    If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, please don’t forget to 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, 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

    10 Milestones In Your Child’s Path To Independence

    It is Independence Day but I find myself considering “independence” in more ways than the birth of our nation. Having recently gone through both a High School and a College graduation with my kids, lately their independence has been on my mind.  So, to celebrate parenthood on the 4th of July, here is a quick look at…

    10 Milestones In Your Child’s Path To Independence:

    1) BIRTH – This is it.  The moment that umbilical cord is cut, your child truly enters the world as a separate, independent being. Sure, they are wholly dependent on you, yet, in the big picture, they are another new person, ready to begin making their own unique mark on the future.

    2) CRAWLING – The first bit of self propelled movement is the moment a child begins their true journey of discovery.  It is a bit of new independence that suddenly brings things within view also within reach.

    3) WALKING – If crawling is the tip of the movement iceberg, then taking that first step opens the floodgates to new-found independence.  Not only does your child go further and faster, but standing up presents a whole new view of things… literally and figuratively.

    4) TALKING - Communication is perhaps the greatest inherent gift we have, and when a child starts to speak their world instantly gets bigger and richer (and ours is changed forever).

    5) GOING TO SCHOOL – The first time we send our kids off for the day is their first true chance to experience a world outside of the familiarity and comfort of home and family.

    6) READING – Learning to read is another moment when the scope of one’s universe suddenly expands overnight.  Reading is not only the gateway to knowledge, but also a wonderful path to your child exploring their own imagination and creativity.

    7) RIDING A BIKE – Wheels!  From the driveway, to the block, to the neighborhood and beyond, a childs’ first bike is their first vehicle and their first chance to travel on their own.

    8 ) DRIVING A CAR – More wheels!  Suddenly your kids can go and do what they want, without being tethered to the range of their feet and bikes, or the scheduling of the Mom/Dad taxi service.  A massive right of passage for kids, and a new adventure in stress and worry for us parents.

    9) GETTING A JOB - Whether it is mowing lawns, babysitting, painting a neighbor’s porch, flipping burgers, or starting a computer consulting business, the first time your child earns their own money leads to a new sense of power, independence, and pride as they begin to truly value the value of what they work for.

    10) GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE - Finishing school is a huge moment of accomplishment and a big step toward true independence.

    BONUS:

    11) STARTING THEIR OWN FAMILY – So far I have survived all ten of the milestones above, and each and every one of them has made me increasingly proud of my children, their accomplishments, and the ways they have handled their own growing independence and transition from being great kids to being great people.  The next step will truly bring everything full circle as one day each of them is blessed to find a great partner and start their own families.  That will be quite an Independence Day, I am sure!

    What do you think?  Are there any milestones I missed when thinking of your own kids’ path to Independence?  Please share your thoughts in the comments, and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

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


    Cast of Dads #25: Russian Home To The Family

    The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!  From warships in San Francisco, to spies to Diplomatic tweets, this week the Cast of Dads hopped around more topics than a room full of kangaroos.  If you’d like us to be a little more focused in the future feel free to E-mail us your topic ideas!

    Meanwhile the topics we discuss in this episode include:

    You can LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 25 HERE.

    If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, please don’t forget to 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, 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Hip Hop By Pop: Dad Life

    This has been floating around Cyberspace a while I think, but it just landed on my radar and it is too good not to share with Team Dadomatic. Enjoy!

    Dad Life from Church on the Move on Vimeo.

    Kudos to the super creative team that wrote and produced the Dad Life song and video!  Go dads!

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

    The Absolute BEST Last Minute Father’s Day Gift!

    It is Father’s Day, and if you’ve been lazy, busy, or just procrastinating way too long I have good news for you. There is still plenty of time to give the best Father’s Day Gift ever, and here’s how:

    If you are in the same city, go see your dad. Give him a hug – a REAL hug – then look him in the eyes and tell him how much you love him. Mean it (because you do!) Tell him how much you appreciate the role he has played in your life, and the role model he has been in shaping you into the man (and dad) you are yourself. If you are not in the same city, all of the above (except the hug bit) can be accomplished over the phone, or even better, with a Skype video call.)

    It Really Is The Thought That Counts

    If you are a dad, you needn’t worry about the cards and gifts you may or may not receive from your kids (kids, depending on their ages, can be notoriously bad about gifts sometimes). You can help them by following the same procedure as detailed above. Give your kids a hug – a REAL hug – tell them how much you love them – mean it, because you do! – and let them know that they have already given you the greatest gift of all, the gift of being a dad!

    Look proudly upon them and know that one day they will be giving the same hugs and words to you, and to their own children.

    THAT is the greatest Father’s Day Gift.

    To all dads and fathers, and to my dad and my wonderful children Zach, Ethan and Olivia, THANK YOU, I LOVE YOU, and HAPPY FATHER’s DAY!

    Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 20 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

    Photo Credit: © epantha – Fotolia.com

    A Routine Gift For Father’s Day…

    Everyone loves a gift that keeps on giving…something that will be used frequently and thus serve as a lasting reminder of the occasion and the gift giver.  The best way to find a perpetual gift for dad is to take a look at things that are part of his everyday routine.  Get dad a gift he will use everyday and you give dad a gift he will thank you for again and again and again.  If you are a dad yourself and want to give your family a “hint” of what you want, point them to a gift that keeps on giving.

    A Close Shave

    So, what are some of the things you or your dad use everyday?  If you are of the beardless variety a great razor and shaving supplies from The Art of Shaving are perfect gifts that keep on giving.  With their long-lasting high quality they make the daily shaving routine most enjoyable and anything but routine.  I received a beautiful Art Of Shaving brush and razor as a gift a few years ago and it still makes me feel special every morning.

    You can get your dad (or yourself) some “Art Of Shaving” products here: Amazon Affiliate Link for Art of Shaving Products

    Regardless of the status of your facial hair, consider dad’s daily routine when picking his gift and you’ll make sure his Father’s Day is anything but routine! Enjoy!

    Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 20 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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

    Happy Father’s Day, Mom

    Happy Father's Day MomMy mother is one of the strongest people I know.  When I was a kid, I idolized my dad.  He was the coolest, smartest dad on earth, and I wanted to be just like him.  My mom, not so much.  Mom and dad got divorced when I was 7 or 8.  My mom was a very unreasonable woman whose only interest was driving a wedge between me and the greatest man on earth.  I knew this because my dad (who was con-man with a Ph.D. in Child Psychology) was cool enough to point it out.

    Lucky for me, the truth about my father came out.  I was 17, and my whole universe imploded, but it was for the best.  I got to discover how unbelievably strong my mother was. Now that I’m a father myself, I am astounded by how she was able to handle things so well.  She never told me that my dad was a bad person.  She never told me not to trust him.  We would butt heads a lot back then, and it would have been easy for her to defend herself with the truth.

    She was not interested in defending herself, or making things easier for herself.  All she was interested in was raising me to be a man.  She knew that the truth would come out on it’s own.  She couldn’t be the person who destroyed my reality because she knew she needed to be there to pick me up when that happened on it’s own.  As it turns out, mom is pretty damn smart.  Luck for me.  As it turns out, she was an awesome dad too.

    I think a lot about my responsibilities as a dad. When I think about teaching my kids to always face their fears, to be truthful above all else, to follow what they know is right no matter what, it’s my mom there.  When I look at my work ethic and my stubborn inability to quit, it’s my mom there too.  Mom always gave me the space to make mistakes, and take the wrong path.  She knew experience is a far better teacher than any parent can be.

    When I think about all the work it is for my wife and I to raise our kids, I am amazed by how my mom did it on her own without ending up in the psych ward or an AA meeting.  I have a strong appreciation for how hard it is for single parents whenever I’m at the end of my rope, and my patience is gone, and tell my wife, “You’re on it. I’m done.”  I can only imagine how hard it is not be able to say that, ever.  I hope I never find out.

    Mom was an awesome dad.  Even as kids, it was my mom that would play with us in the yard while dad napped.  My mom took me to my first football game, and watched every Dolphins game on TV with me.  I had a job selling newspapers that got me tickets to Miami Hurricanes games sometimes (college football).  She would haul us all down to the Orange Bowl every time.  It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized she had no interest in football.

    She made sure to join parenting groups so we could see men that were doing fatherhood right.  I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I sure realize that influence now.  Thank mom.

    So this Father’s Day, I wanted to give a shout out to my mom, and all the other single moms out there being good dads.  If I’m a man, it’s because my mom raised me to be that way.

    Happy Father’s Day, Mom!

    Ian is the father of two young daughters (7, and 2).  He has a podcast and blog about starting a business while raising young children at Startup Daddy.

    What do you want for Father’s Day, Dad?

    When I was little, I would ask my father, “What do you want for Father’s Day, Dad?

    His answer would not make sense to me.

    “I don’t want anything.” Then, realizing this answer would not satisfy, “I want good, well-behaved children.”

    Seemed like a non-answer to me.

    Now I’m a Dad

    My children, aged 6 and 8, asked me, “What do you want for Father’s Day, Dad?”

    I don’t need any “thing.” And all I want are happy, loved, safe, healthy, and (one day) trusted (by all) children. “I want good, well-behaved children,” I answered.

    What do you want for Father’s Day?

    :: Joe Hage is CEO and Founder of medical device marketing firm Medical Marcom ::

    Graduation: A Commence-meant To Be!

    Zach and Dad... Then and Now

    It is graduation season, and the air is filled with the aroma’s of diplomas!  From Grade School to Graduate School students everywhere and their families and friends are celebrating “Commencement.”  I have always marveled at how clever it is to honor the completion of school with a word that means “beginning.”  While we celebrate our kids’ graduation from all stages of their school careers, I think there is no more pure example of a true “commencement” than the graduation from college and the entry into the job market… from living as a student, to earning a living as a responsible adult.  Truly, a new beginning for the graduate, and their family.

    Degrees Of Happiness

    Yesterday my oldest son graduated from Johnson & Wales University and I could not be more proud of him.  Anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant, food service or hospitality industries knows how much hard work is involved and a BS from JWU is no BS, as the students are put through a rigorous academic and practical training program over four grueling years.  Proof of the proverbial pudding is JWU’s 97% job placement rate for graduates, and my Zach is already working at the popular Brio Tuscan Grill (please visit the next time you are in South Florida!)

    A Family Affair

    In addition to my own warm and fuzzy feelings, joining all the other parents and families at the Graduation Ceremony was a joy.  It is a wonderful feeling to look around a crowded venue and know that everyone present shares a common sense of pride and accomplishment. Seeing the smiles and tears, hearing the applause and cheers, knowing the many hard choices and sacrifices often made by both students and families to support a college education and seeing it all come together for such a happy conclusion is both humbling and inspiring. As Parents, we have no choice but to hand off our world to our children, and college graduation is arguably the commencement of that process.  Seeing all the smart, happy, hard working, accomplished young men and women proudly wearing their caps and gowns, clutching their diplomas like the treasured prize it is, and one that they have worked so hard to finally possess, I know we are placing our collective futures in wonderful and capable hands.

    CONGRATULATIONS to ALL the graduates everywhere, and to their families and friends who have supported them throughout the school years!

    As for me, I get to enjoy this once again in two weeks when my daughter graduates from High School!

    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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

    Fatherhood One On One

    Yes, you read correctly.  The title of this post is “Fatherhood One On One,” not to be confused with “Fatherhood 101.”  For Fatherhood “101,” just dive in and and read ALL the posts on Dadomatic from ALL our great Dads.  You will get a complete primer on being a Dad from just about every imaginable point of view.  On the other hand, if you keep reading this particular post we’ll go down the “one on one” path (which, by the way, has nothing to do with basketball either).

    My Dinner With Olivia

    By definition, a family is a group, and with Moms, Dads and Kids, most of our “family time” is spent as a group.  If there is more than one parent and more than one child in your household, with our hectic lives it is very easy to forget how important it is to get “one on one” time with each and every family member (and that includes time for Mom and Dad to be together, one on one, without the kids).  If you have more than one child the dynamic is completely different, as is the way we engage with our kids and how they engage with us, when only one of them is the object of our undivided attention.  I was reminded of this tonight as my daughter and I had the chance to go out for a quiet dinner, just the two of us.  We talked, we laughed, we caught up on things that on the surface may have seemed like meaningless minutia, but instead every topic became interesting and fun because it was just us, sharing the moment.  She may be 18 and weeks away from graduating High School, but Olivia will always be Daddy’s little girl, and hugging her tonight was just as sweet as it was when she was a doll toting tike.

    Making Time, Taking Time

    As parents, we have so many responsibilities, obligations and challenges that sometimes it is easy to forget that we have to work at making time and taking time to be with each of our kids individually and give them the chance to own us for a while, without any competition from anyone else (especially their brothers and sisters).  Tonight my dinner with my daughter helped me remember just how important it is.  What do you think?  How important is “one on one” time to you?  Are you able to carve out special time for each of your family members with just you?

    ??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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

    Respect Kids: They Will Own You One Day!

    Regardless of what we may think, in the end, it is our kids who hold all the power.  They are the ones who (sooner than we think) will start taking over and running things in this fast paced, high tech digital world we live in.  I was reminded of this in the presentation below by 12 year old writer and speaker, Adora Svitak, from this year’s TED Conference.  (NOTE: As I have mentioned here and here before, I love the intelligent, insightful and inspiring videos from the TED conference.  I try to watch one a day and always discover something thought provoking and relevant.  If you haven’t been watching TED videos, you really should!)

    Precocious, Cute or Both?

    Adora talks about how adults should treat kids with respect, and I was reminded of the wonderful tribute to John Hughes at the Oscars this year, where a long since grown-up Macaulay Culkin warmly mentioned how, even though he was only 9 at the time, the talented filmmaker Hughes always treated the young Culkin with respect. Good thoughts and good advice from both young actor and younger TEDster.

    What do you think about Adora’s speech?  Is she just a precocious little brainiac, or does she make some good points worth considering, even by us adults?  Please watch and then share your thoughts in the comments. Respectfully, of course…

    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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

    Secrets of the Mountain – Review & Give-Away

    Secrets of the Mountain movie posterEarlier this week I had the opportunity to get a preview of a movie coming out next Friday. The movie “Secrets of the Mountain” is being funded by Walmart and P&G (Proctor and Gamble) and is their answer to the lack of family friendly programming on television today.

    The movie centers around a single mother, Dana James, played by Paige Turco, raising three kids Jake, Jade, and Madeline. The children are played by newcomers Crawford Wilson as Jake, Adelaide Kane as Jade, and Kayla Carlson as Madeline. As a single mother dealing with a difficult divorce she buries herself in work to avoid dealing with her own issues. A consequence of this, is that she becomes disconnected from her kids and they are living in the same house but living separate lives.

    An unexpected letter from an attorney arrives offering to purchase some property left to her by a dead uncle. Many years earlier Dana watched her Uncle Henry, played by Barry Bostwick, die when his Jeep was mysteriously forced off a cliff. He was apparently killed for reasons related to a secret hidden inside the mountain.

    She decides to take the family on a weekend road trip to the property hoping they can reconnect during the getaway. While checking out the family cabin it turns out Harry is dead at all. He has spent the last several years traveling the world trying to discover the secrets hidden inside the mountain that Dana just sold.  Turns out he wasn’t dead at all and he finds it interesting that mysterious corporation now wants to purchase the mountain for a very large sum of money.

    This movie is full of interesting twist and turns. There are treasure maps, Indiana Jones like booby traps, and secret passageways and treasure rooms that remind me of National Treasure. It is good fun for the entire family and I urge you to gather everyone around the TV Friday April 16th and watch it on NBC.

    Now as a dad writing on a dad focused blog I have a few issues with the movie and the goal that Walmart and Proctor & Gamble claim to have with this movie. From the fact sheet I received from them:
    “The film was produced in direct response to recent research conducted by the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Family Entertainment that reveals that parents across America are seeking more family-oriented entertainment for the whole family to enjoy together”

    There was one very short scene in the movie with the kids father and it depicted a disagreement between him and Dana. I personally think there is lack of programming on TV today that portrays families with strong father figures. Too many shows today display fathers as bumbling idiots (Homer Simpson or Ray Romano) or a testosterone-fueled disaster waiting to happen (Tim Allen).

    I understand that single mothers have a unique set of challenges I and don’t want to diminish those, but for a large segment of the population a family is a complete family unit that contains a mother AND a father. If Walmart and P&G want to really create family-friendly TV it would be appropriate for that programming to include an entire family.

    I hope that the next production can produce produce some content for the whole family and not leave us dads out in the cold.

    Secrets of the Mountain DVD & Soundtrack CD Give-away

    We will be giving away one copy of the movie on DVD to a lucky reader. The winner will receive the movie the day after it premieres on TV on 4/16/2010. Coincidentally, it goes on sale that same day at Walmart’s across the US.

    How to Enter: Just leave a comment with your favorite family movie and include your email address so we can contact you if you should win.

    DISCLOSURE:
    In the interest of full disclosure I will mention that I was flown out to New York and put up in a hotel compliments of Walmart and Proctor & Gamble. This review was not impacted in any manner by this.

    The Pane Truth: What Happened To Looking Out The Window?

    I miss windows.  No, I am not an Apple convert waxing poetic about my old computer operating system.  I actually miss real windows… the glass kind.  The kind we used to gaze through and let our minds wander in the days before portable electronics became so pervasive. I miss looking out the window, and I wish my kids would spend more time looking out of windows themselves.

    Did You See What I Saw?

    When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time staring out of windows, watching the world go by, and dreaming about what it all meant.  Moving windows were the best. I actually looked forward to long car, bus or train rides and insisted on a window seat so I could stare out of it at the passing scenery. I’d look at homes and imagine what it would be like to live THERE.  I’d see glimpses of people going about their business and try to expand upon the snapshot moment and imagine who they were and what they were like, and what would they be like after my car/bus/train finished peeking through their world.

    Digital Blinds

    Now, when I see passing cars, buses, trains, even planes, instead of looking out the windows kids and adults alike are looking at the phone, computer or game system in their hands and laps, or they are staring at the embedded screen in the digitally enhanced headrest on the seat in front of them.  In many cases they are wearing headsets, tuned out to what is outside.  Our portable devices have created digital blinds on our windows, blinding us to the wonders outside.

    The Glass Is Greener On The Other Side…

    I am as guilty of gadget gazing as anyone, and I have not done enough to discourage my kids from too often dipping into the digital dark-side.  I need to remind them (and myself) that sometimes it is best to leave technology behind and just look out the window and let your mind wander.

    What do you think?  Do you and your kids still spend time looking out the window?

    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 and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

    ?

    Readeo Introduces BookChat

    Readeo has unveiled something they called BookChatâ„¢ that uses webcams to allow people to read books via the web in real-time. The idea will not be received well by some folks who will complain that the best part of the reading experience is being together. However, this solution is not positioning itself as a replacement for that precious experience between parents (grandparents or whomever) and child. This is merely trying to be an alternative when being in person to read to a child is not possible for whatever reason. For example, all those traveling parents who miss the bed time ritual and how they would give anything to take part of it when they’re on the road, even if it’s done digitally from long distances.

    What do you think? Here’s a screencast of how it works.

    A BookChat Experience on Readeo from Readeo on Vimeo.

    Love, Anger, Kids

    My youngest’s bio on Facebook. Why I love him.

    I’m a pretty laid back person. Unfortunately, I’m a person who wears their heart on their sleeves.

    I’m the son of an awesome father, Todd Jordan, who really cares for me. Also, an awesome loving mother, Sharon Jordan, who cares for me just the same. Without these two people in my life, I’d probably be in shambles right now. Sitting somewhere on the side of the roads. They’ve helped me with a lot of my troubles. Its enough to where I talk about how I love being with them, despite not always showing it.

    Todd Jordan – The man who has taught me enough to run circles around some computer situations. And enough to also be able to adapt to new computers and technology. Also the man who has taught me discipline to be able to turn the other cheek on stressful times and become the person I am today. Without his guidance, I would surely not be sitting here today.

    Sharon Jordan – The women who has, still is, and always will be teaching me how to better my house living. Washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning, etc… You name it, she basically will have it covered. Though a bit of a softy, she will not miss a chance to speak her mind. And you’ll know when she does. She has also done her best to raise me just as well as my father has.

    Steven Jordan – The person who used to always watch over me as a child while my dad was out as sea, and my mom was working. If it wasn’t for him, a lot of what my family has been able to do, probably wouldn’t have happened. Family is always nice to be able to rely on in toughest of times, and it was awesome that he was around to help. For a good 13 years of my life, he did just that. I love him to death, and felt like most of my life went bleh when I couldn’t be around him. When my parents weren’t around, he was definitely both the Mother and Father of my life. Always continuing where they had left off. So you can bet your butt that I didn’t get away with anything no matter what while they were away.

    Those three people listed above have help mold and shape my life into what I’m living right now. Sheltered, clothed, fed, loved, comforted, taken care of, and a place to sleep. I can not thank them enough for what they have done these 19 years of my life. And I don’t think I’ll ever be able to in the years to come.

    Music is apart of my life, and I enjoy singing the songs I know the lyrics to. Even if its just part of the song. Please do not stop me. If you don’t like it, then i’m sorry. I learned to play the guitar in High School, but due to my laziness, I never continued. I stuck with computers and had bettered myself in what I already knew.

    Computers and Technology have been apart of my life ever since I can remember. My dad, being a Computer Programmer and Data Analyst, has taught me a lot. He taught me how to do the basic of Web-Design when I was in Middle School. He also taught me how to stop problems before they become bigger. And fix problems that have already occurred.

    He’s brought me troubles, heartaches, losses and made me angry, but all of those things are transient. He’ll always be my son, whom I love.

    Todd Jordan is a father of two boys, and grandfather of three lovely girls. He’s a geek, playing photographer, programmer, and blogger at The Broad Brush.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    The Place "Where Dreams Come True"

    I just returned from a family vacation that included two days at Disney World.  Our oldest daughter Carly, turned six in February, and this was our present to her.  Like most parents of six-year-olds, we are trying to teach her the value of a dollar, and appreciation for the things people do for her and give to her. This lesson often takes place in a store, with me crouched down to eye level of about four feet, trying to logically reason with a loudly whining girl that really, really wants something.  What gives kids the idea that adding “pretty” to please makes it better anyway?  I’ve never seen an ugly please, but my daughter can pretty-up a please with a cherry on top as good as anyone.

    So what better place to teach your kids some old fashion values than the happiest place on earth?  I’ve taught Carly what an advertisement is.  She knows that toys are rarely as cool as they look on TV, and that a Happy Meal isn’t health food just because you choose apples instead of fries.  She should be able to see through and resist the efforts of what is possibly the greatest branding and marketing entity in the world, right?  Actually, all things considered, she did great.

    Carly is in a big Princess phase right now, so seeing my daughter meet Cinderella, Ariel, Belle and Aurora was pretty big treat for me.  Hey, I get it.  I’m from Miami, and I met Larry Czonka when I was six, and I still talk about it.  Sure, the first day at Disney was really hot and humid, and for some reason the baby was not a big fan of waiting in a line for 50 minutes to go on It’s A Small World.  You have to expect and plan for these sort of days to be stressful.

    Some of us parents did this better than others.  Disney is a long day, especially in March.  Each line is about an hour, so if you don’t plan things right you’re in trouble.  Unless you can afford to spend a week there, if the kids are going to see all the cool stuff they’re going to be staying up past their bed time. There is that cool Electric Light Parade at 8:00, and then a really impressive fireworks show at 9:00.  Carly is usually in bed by 8:00, but she had no problems staying up later than she ever has in her life.  Want a secret from a Disney veteran?  Go on the big rides during the Electric Light Parade.  The lines disappear.

    So the second night was the really late night.  We had to get in everything we missed the day before.  We didn’t plan to stay up that late, we just looked up, and there was the parade.  So we headed to Pirates of the Caribbean.  No line.  Awesome.  The next thing you know, there were fireworks going off.  Time is a different thing on vacation.  Not for the baby, of course.  If my wife didn’t get her back to the hotel by 7, she would have definitely turned into the loudest, most unhappy pumpkin there.  We are lucky to be able to team up on things like this.

    This is when I realized we never got the ears with her name stitched on the back.  Doh!  They sell the ears everywhere, but they only do the stitching at one store.  The quest begins.  It is in the front of the park, and there was a half an hour wait for the stitching.  So we walk around the store (which is like 5 stores actually) so she could pick out another souvenir.  Our rule is that souvenirs are bought at the end of things.  The reason: I don’t want to carry anything around all day.  The way I sell it:  You need to see everything people have, so you are not disappointed by getting the wrong thing.  Try it.  It works.

    It’s about 10:00 PM, and that is when I notice it.  All around me, throughout the store, crying kids and angry parents.  The happiest place on earth, the place where dreams come true, has beaten them.  The kids make sense.  It’s late, they’ve been walking all day, they’re kids.  I understand the angry parents too.  You’ve been walking all day, waiting in lines, you dropped $50 on lunch alone and your ungrateful kid has the nerve to be upset that you won’t spend $75 for a princess dress or a stuffed animal?  But that’s the thing.  You went there for your kids.  You took them into the store to pick something out.  You need to set expectations and set boundaries before they have the melt down.  You don’t avoid problems in the Superbowl of toy stores without lots of practice.  Even then, you may get the melt down.  At that hour, you can’t hold your young child responsible for loosing it.  You need to keep your cool.

    Grabbing your crying child by the arm and screaming, “Answer me already! Do you want the blue one or the white one?!”  isn’t how you want to end your day.  Any day.  But especially your day at the Magic Kingdom.  Carly made me proud that night.  She was told, No, and, Sorry but we just can’t afford that, and she got it.  She has heard these words before.  Our time at Disney was as special for our daughter as we had hoped it would be.  She was genuinely appreciative, and for that, I give thanks.

    Ian Gordon is the father of two young daughters (Carly 6, and Sydney, 15 months). He has a blog and podcast at Startup Daddy

    Boys and their Toys

    I had a blast tonight showing my two sons some of the old toys and games me and my brothers played with when we were kids. They included G.I. Joe, Matt Mason astronauts and The Thing Maker which let you create creepy crawlers, bugs and other fun things.

    I was startled when my oldest asked, “You played with dolls, dad?” and of course they had their long belly laughs at their old man’s expense. I eventually corrected them by saying they weren’t dolls but “Action Figures!” Hmph! (Yea, well, to be honest with you, I think they’re right actually. They WERE dolls! argh!!!)

    Anyway, I think it’s not only fun but a wonderful way to bond with your children when you share your favorite toys and games from youth. Include their uncles and aunts which will make things even more fun and entertaining. It also teaches them that their parents and other adults in their lives were all kids at one point in their lives. It’s also a great way for each of us to get back in touch with the child still living inside each and every one of us.