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Monday, April 30, 2007


Belly Dance Baby

I was asked to write a paid review for the Belly Dance Baby store, so I thought I'd give the place a look. Funny name aside, this is an awesome place for baby gear!

The online store's layout and design are imaginative and easy to navigate. And their inventory includes things you won't find at a department store. I don't know about you, but I prefer to do most of my shopping on the Internet anyway, so a store like this is a great place to find original baby items to send off to that friend or cousin who just had a baby.

They have a wide range of products, from plush toys to bedding to clothing. Just check out their baby girl clothing as well as some of the cutest trumpette baby socks.

Belly Dance fashions are all over the media, from Regis & Kelly to The New York Times to Urban Baby. I'm no fashion expert, but it's easy to see why these clothes will appeal to new parents who don't want to drape their kids in shirts and shoes emblazoned with every Disney or Sesame Street character. There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting your child to look nice.

Among the store's items are such brand names as Skip Hop, Tea Collection, Dwell Baby, Netto Collection, blabla, Zid Zid, Oeuf, and Paulina Quintana. So if you're looking for something unique or hip for your baby, or you're shopping for a shower gift, give Belly Dance Baby a look.

Sunday, April 29, 2007



Spring has sprung in North Idaho.

The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, April 26, 2007



Three weeks ago, the funny and thought-provoking L.A. Daddy gave me a Thinking Blogger Award. It took me awhile to respond. My thinking is a little slower these days.

Anyway, I'm happy that I made him think. At least my writing didn't kill off any of his brain cells.

And now I'd like to pass the love along by awarding the heralded status of Thinking Blogger to five blogs that I really enjoy reading. These are all blogs that you should be reading too:

1. Hann over at Zingela is an Australian mom, by way of South Africa, who is raising two tweens and a toddler. She has an uncanny way of writing about everyday life that makes it sound like an adventure. And she has the most awesome clothesline on the web, bar none.

2. Hooray For Saturday is a stay-at-home dad of two young children, a boy and a girl. He writes honestly, without trying to be snarky or outrageous. He takes fantastic photos. And he loves his family. Actually, he's a lot like me, only he can throw a Frisbee a lot farther.

3. BrodH20 is a fellow North Idaho blogger, only she's a mom and I'm not. Another huge difference between us is that she can really write. And she makes a living doing it at our local paper. Since she can't just turn off the words when the day is done, she started a blog to write about her kids and family. I think she's one of the best mommy bloggers out there and is deserving of a larger audience.

4. Jeff at Out With The Kids likes to "parent differently" and he proves it in his posts. He and I may disagree on a few subjects (Disney and The Wiggles) but I learn a lot from reading his down-to-earth perspective on parenting.

5. Synaptic Disunion is written by Toadman, a father of three who paints beautiful pictures with his humble words about family, work, and life. He just welcomed a new son to his family, so stop by and say congrats!

Thanks to all of you for making me think, even when I didn't feel like it.

If any of you five would like to play along with these awards, the participation rules are simple:

1. Write a post with links to five blogs that make you think,

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


One Tough Kid

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


The Joy of Soccer

We're full into soccer season now, with both kids playing. They each practice and play at least twice a week or more.

I'm loving watching my kids come out of their winter cocoons. They're already looking and sounding healthier with the increased activity.

So imagine my amazement to hear this complaint from a soccer mom at the game today: "I'm running one kid to one game, then another kid to practice, and we get to do it again tomorrow. I can't wait until this is over."

I can't wait until this is over...

How sad that a mother would view her children's happiness and well-being as such a terrible burden on her precious time. As my son would say, "Yeesh!" The soccer season here is just over a month. She can't be a little busy for five short weeks?

It is pure joy to watch my children grow in body and mind through play. I've never thought of their activities as a burden, whether it's a soccer game, a Cub Scout meeting, or a piano lesson.

In fact, it's an honor for me to participate in their lives. I really can't imagine anything more important.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Wabbit Season

My son's latest obsession has been Looney Tunes cartoons, especially those of Sylvester and Tweety. He'd say he likes all of them, but I see that he's always drawing pictures of Sylvester when he's supposed to be doing math.

Today we had an awesome treat. I took the kids into Spokane to see Bugs Bunny On Broadway at the Opera House. If you've never heard of this show that debuted on Broadway in 1990, it's an orchestral performance of the classic music of the old Warner Bros. cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and others. The cartoons themselves are projected on a big screen. So, you see the images and hear the voices, but the music is spectacularly live.

My son was thrilled. I'm actually not sure if he cared all that much about the powerful performance of the Spokane Symphony or if he was just happy to be seeing a few cartoons that haven't come out on DVD yet.

I do know that he definitely noticed the music, asking me to make him a CD of the classical pieces featured in the show, such as Wagner's Lohengrin, Strauss' Blue Danube, and Rossini's William Tell Overture.

My daughter, overhearing the request, asked for a copy too. So, the end result is a couple of kids with a new appreciation for classical music! Thanks Bugs.

Listen: "Merrie Melodies Overture"

Friday, April 20, 2007


Me Ol' Bamboo

I'm a lifelong learner, and I try to teach my kids to be that way too. Learning isn't just about studying math or English in school. It's about being curious and optimistic and wanting tomorrow to be better than today.

Mostly, though, I just really love learning strange new things. Like the fact that the latest trend in material manufacturing is bamboo.

I only know about this because the nice people at the Baby Dagny store sent me a sample bamboo washcloth. They're not kidding when they say it's one of the softest materials around. It's also organic and pesticide-free, which is awesome for a baby's sensitive skin.

Baby Dagny has a full-line of these Belgian bamboo creations (who knew Belgium was a hotbed of bamboo?!), including robes, towels, bibs, and washcloths. Find them all here.

My kids aren't babies anymore, although they certainly act like it at times, but I'm definitely going to pick up a few bamboo baby products for some new cousins that have come into the family. It's a really unique gift.

Speaking of bamboo, one of my all-time favorite songs as a child was "Me Ol' Bam-Boo" from the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack. I still think Dick Van Dyke is a comic genius. Anyway, here's that classic song...

Listen: Dick Van Dyke - "Me Ol' Bam-Boo"

And does anyone remember the 80's band Big Bam Boo?

Listen: Big Bam Boo - "Fell Off A Mountain"

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Teach Your Children Well

My son and I cover so many topics of learning in any given week of homeschooling, it's hard to know just what sticks in his brain and what doesn't.

Today we were driving into Spokane when my son said, "The people who built this city must like the Vikings. There are two streets back there named Thor and Freya."

We had studied Norse myths several months ago in a brief literature unit. It does a teacher's heart good to know that his student is actually paying attention!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Jump Back

There seems to be a rule in my house that I had no say in, and it goes something like this: Whenever Daddy sits or lies down on the ground, all children must jump and climb on him repeatedly.

I never thought much about it until yesterday when a pain suddenly developed in my lower back. It didn't take long for a numb feeling to spread down my right leg. They call it sciatica.

I explained all of this to my kids, just before getting down on the ground to stretch my back and leg muscles. But they didn't care. The jumping/climbing rule supersedes all other considerations.

If I'm lucky, maybe they'll pop something back into place and save me a trip to a chiropractor.

Anyone have some advice for dealing with sciatica?

Monday, April 16, 2007


The Sticks

Exposing my children to real life instances of generosity and kindness is difficult, because in this world people rarely give without expecting to get.

So I loved taking my kids to meet The Stickman.

He's a man who lives near a popular hiking trail in my town and enjoys sharing his time and talent with anyone who happens to be passing by.

What does he do? He makes sticks. Actually, he makes the most beautiful walking sticks, sanded and polished to glassy smoothness, then encrusted with assorted gems.

And then he gives them away.

To anyone who asks.

Like most people, I'm not accustomed to such a generous spirit. When I first heard of him, I was a bit skeptical. But one day a few weeks ago we found ourselves near his home and decided to stop.

The Stickman took the time to show us many of his projects, from the walking sticks made of apple and hemlock to the carefully crafted bullroarer and didgeridoo that he demonstrated for us. He also let my kids look over his special collection of gem stones and rare shells while he patiently explained what they were and how he got them.

In the process, he taught us all an important lesson about selflessness and giving. Generosity can be practiced in many ways. Even a simple walking stick can be a powerful example of how one person can make the world a better place.

Thanks Stickman!

Friday, April 13, 2007


Dear Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

I have just enough time and energy to entertain, supervise, teach, and discipline my two children. I absolutely do not want to be responsible for yours as well.

If your kids are bored, figure out something to occupy their minds. Don't just send them out into the neighborhood to roam from house to house looking for somebody to play with.

It also unnerves me greatly that you haven't taught them to respect other people's property. When I see your kids in my garage rummaging through my stuff and acting like what's mine is theirs, well, I just have to think you forgot to teach them a really important life lesson.

You see, I don't want to watch your kids. I don't want to lecture them, scold them, tell jokes to them, take them to the park, or anything else beyond simply being a friendly neighbor.

Sorry, but I refuse to play babysitter to every kid on the block. Unless you want to pay me by the hour... Maybe then we can work something out.


Vote For Me

The Homeschool Blog Awards are in their last day, and I'm battling "The Mango Times" in the Best Homeschool Dad Blog category.

If you haven't voted yet, click here to get to the list of nominees.

I'd appreciate a vote... I've never won anything before! Don't make me put on my sad kitten face!

UPDATE! Woo-hoo, looks like I won. Thanks everyone who voted!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Veggie Tales

Mmmmmm... Glazed carrots at Easter dinner

I shake my head in puzzlement toward my kids at least once a day.

It's been so long since I was that age that I've forgotten how silly children can be. What makes no sense to a grown-up might be perfectly logical to a child.

My kids love carrots when they're raw. Hate 'em when they're cooked.

They love steamed broccoli. Serve it raw and they gag.

They can eat a dozen sticks of raw celery stuffed with peanut butter. But if I chop it up and put it in a salad, they pick the pieces out and refuse to eat them.

The weirdest quirk of all is with corn. On the cob, they love it. Off the cob, it's the grossest thing in the world and they don't even want it on their plates. I've gone round and round with them on this one... "It's still cooked, it still has the same texture, it still tastes the same. It's just been taken off the cob!!" Nope, they'll have none of that silly grown-up logic.

I just keep shaking my head. It's good exercise.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Homeschooling Dad

I've been nominated for Best Homeschool Dad Blog over at the Homeschool Blog Awards.

If you want to throw a vote my way, click on the logo to visit the voting site, then click on my blog name:

It's nice to be nominated, but it's even nicer to discover a whole bunch of other homeschooling dad blogs!

Speaking of homeschooling, my son just announced that there are seven weeks until the end of school. We'll see about that. He's behind on his math, and it's up to him to prove to me that he understands all the basics of multiplication, division, and fractions before we wrap up the year.

Actually, I'm not sure who's looking forward to summer more, him or me. He's ready for a carefree vacation filled with fun and play. I'm ready to tackle my backyard deck project.


Sunday, April 08, 2007


The Madness of the Crowd

It's 2:45 in the morning and I just finished stumbling around the dark backyard in my flip-flops placing about a hundred Easter eggs under bushes and in trees. All so the kids could have a fun and carefree egg hunt in the morning.

I wasn't going to make a big deal of it, but yesterday we went to this huge egg hunt at a local car dealership. In years past I'd heard of this event and how wonderful it was, with prizes galore and tens of thousands of eggs. So we went down there and waded into the crowd.

It wasn't so much an egg hunt as it was an egg riot. And the worst offenders were the parents. I couldn't believe what I was seeing... Parents scooping up eggs for their kids. One mother even grabbed an egg right out from under a child's hand. It was madness, fueled by the fact that some of the eggs held prize tags that you could trade in for extremely cool baskets, toys, and even cash.

The kids were mostly interested in the candy. But the parents were out for bling.

Before the hunt began, the organizers repeatedly asked the adults to step back from the egg hunt entrances, to let all the children get to the front, but only a few parents complied. There were many sobbing kids who weren't able to get past the wall of grown-ups. By the time it was all finished, the sea of eggs had been reduced to a minefield of broken plastic and flattened candy. I saw more than one parent throwing an egg and its contents to the ground when it didn't contain a prize number.

We've been to other egg hunts that were wonderfully handled. This one, however, was an embarrassing mess. It made me feel rotten that my kids had to witness such greed and selfishness, especially during a supposed children's event.

I'm a recovering cynic, and I try really hard to focus on the positive and good things in this world. How ironic that on Easter Sunday I am instead reflecting on all that is wrong with humanity.

In about six hours I will watch my kids run happily around the backyard, joy on their faces from merely finding the hidden eggs, and maybe I will forget the madness of yesterday's awful crowd.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


"He's very clean, isn't he?"*

I'm not much of a groomer.

Don't get me wrong, I like to be clean and neat. I shower each morning, use deodorant, trim dangling nose hairs, and the like. But I don't do much beyond basic grooming.

So I've been curious the last couple of weeks about this ad over on the left side of my blog. The one for Herrick & Greyson products. How many men worry about their skin elasticity? Do you have a nightly routine with products like these?

I simply brush, floss, and rinse before bedtime. I do not linger at the mirror, nor dwell on my imperfections. But that's just me.

Recently the good people at Dove sent me an interesting little product to review. It's called a Skinvitalizer and is basically a little handheld massaging face scrubber. It has detachable "pillows" that contain cleansing soaps and lotions.

So what did someone who doesn't use this kind of thing think of it? Honestly, I thought it was kind of cool. One problem, though...

This is a product designed to use at night, before bedtime, to scrub the dirt and oils of the day off your skin. Unfortunately, by evening most men have grown prickly little whiskers that catch on the cleansing pillows, making it almost impossible to easily move it over your cheeks, chin, and neck.

However, I turned it over to my wife and she was impressed. She said it left her skin feeling clean and tight. She's normally somewhat cynical about products like this, but she liked it enough to buy additional cleansing pillows at the store. I don't know what they cost, but I do know that the Skinvitalizer itself can be found for under $10.

So, my wife is recommending this product to all the mom bloggers out there. Dads, you can buy it too if you're looking for an inexpensive Mother's Day gift (it's only five weeks away!).

*Bonus karma points if you recognize the quote in the title of this post.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Noise Alert

My ears are ringing and my voice is hoarse after meeting up with a local mom blogger at a nearby McDonald's for some kids' playtime and grown-up conversation.

Our kids had no problem communicating with each other while they ran through the playland structure. But us poor adults, sitting three feet from each other and trying to hear ourselves above the noise. At one point there must've been thirty kids stomping and yelling in that confined space, and we seemed to be the only parents reminding our children not to be so loud.

Next time we'll find a nice airport runway or steel factory to meet at. Should be much quieter!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Dan Zanes Joins The Wiggles

Did you hear that Murray Cook is retiring from the Wiggles, and that Dan Zanes has accepted an offer to take his place as the new "red" Wiggle?!?!

No, you didn't hear that, because I didn't have time to write it up as my April Fool's joke on Sunday. Oh well.

My enthusiasm for the "holiday" waned a bit after last year's post about taking my family to Iraq caused such a fuss with some readers who have no sense of humor.

So I toned it down this year and came up with the idea of Dan Zanes joining the Wiggles. It's funny because, according to some parent bloggers, those two artists are polar opposites (not in my house -- we enjoy both types of music).

But then I just didn't have the time to write it.

In reality, I'd kind of like to see some sort of collaboration between Zanes and The Wiggles, either in concert or in the studio. Do you think that could ever happen in real life? Or should I save it for next year's April Fool's joke?

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Monday, April 02, 2007


Spring Break Again?

We took spring break a few weeks ago when we went to Disneyland. With homeschooling you can pretty much schedule your days off whenever you want. We were able to beat the crowds to Disneyland before the majority of public schools across the country let out for their spring breaks. My daughter, who is not homeschooling yet, missed four days of kindergarten to experience a wonderful family vacation.

My son understood this. We had a deal. Early spring break, then a regular schedule until the end of school in May.

The problem came when he realized that his sister would be home all this week on her break. He did the math and announced, "It's not fair that she gets two weeks off and I only get one!"

His logic was sound, but all I could come back with was, "Sometimes life is not fair."

But, of course, I now had one very grumpy homeschooler on my hands. Rather than turn it into a fight, we compromised and embraced the flexibility of homeschooling by having short days and more outside activities. He'll have an extra couple of days tacked onto his calendar in May so we can finish his lessons properly.

To be honest, I could use another break too. We were all so exhausted by the end of our week at Disneyland that I was thinking how nice it would be to have another vacation, but one at home with nothing to do and nowhere to go. When we did get back home I immediately jumped into our closet organizer project. Then, after finishing that, the weather turned nice for awhile and I was outside in our backyard digging dirt for a stone walkway.

So we're on spring break, again, this week. Actually, it's a Modified Flexible Half-Time Homeschooling Hiatus. Whatever works.